PARK CITY -- In the latest round in an increasingly vicious landlord-tenant dispute, the Park City Mountain Resort has been served with an eviction notice, ordering the ski resort to vacate by Monday.
"We have allowed you to remain on the property under the assumption that each of us was pursuing this litigation in good faith," a letter sent with the eviction notice, obtained by FOX 13, said. "We can no longer operate under that assumption."
The eviction notice stems from a lawsuit Park City Mountain Resort filed in 2012 against Canada-based Talisker Holdings, which owns the mountain (and also leases to Vail Resort, which operates The Canyons nearby). Talisker has claimed that Park City Mountain Resort missed a key deadline to renew its $155,000 a year lease. In court documents, attorneys for Talisker have accused Park City Mountain Resort's operators of attempting to backdate a letter to make it appear they had met the deadline.
"You now claim that the backdating of this document was a mistake for which you apologize," Talisker manager Fiona Arnold wrote in the letter. "We do not view the intentional backdating of a formal notice you thought was critical to be merely a mistake and an apology delivered after over two years have gone by rings hollow. Backdating a document is a tactic solely used to deceive a business partner."
In a statement to FOX 13, Park City Mountain Resort President and General Manager Jenni Smith cast much of the blame on Vail Resort. The statement reads:
"Vail's eviction notice is nothing more than a bald faced attempt to circumvent the litigation already in process and interfere with our business. We will not give in to Vail's bullying and look forward to conducting business as usual for the 2013-14 season."
In its own statement issued late Thursday, Vail Resorts vice-president for corporate communications Kelly Ladyga expressed "concern with the behavior Park City Mountain Resort has demonstrated in this situation." The entire statement reads:
"As we have previously stated, under the terms of our agreement with Talisker in connection with our lease of the Canyons, we have assumed oversight of the litigation between Talisker Land Holdings LLC and Park City Mountain Resort. We have an obligation to protect and preserve Talisker’s and our interest in this matter. We are concerned with the behavior that Park City Mountain Resort has demonstrated in this situation. Talisker issued Park City Mountain Resort the Notice to Quit as a necessary legal step to bring this issue to the Court and we anticipate that there will be a number of actions required to bring this dispute to closure. With that said, there is no intent by Talisker to take any action that would prevent PCMR's ability to operate their resort during the upcoming 2013-2014 ski season. We are very cognizant of the importance of this situation to the entire Park City community and we look forward to bringing this situation and its uncertainty to a conclusion."
John Lund, an attorney for Talisker, told FOX 13 in an email that the eviction notice "was simply the first, necessary step in a process that has to work its way through the courts."
"No action will be taken precipitously and without judicial review," he wrote.
Tanya Peters, a civil litigation attorney with the firm Richard Brandt Miller Nelson (not connected to the lawsuit) said it was unlikely that Park City Mountain Resort would be evicted immediately. The resort's attorneys would likely ask a judge for a restraining order to prevent it from happening -- adding to the litigation.
"It's definitely a take no prisoners action," she said of the eviction notice. "What they're trying to do, I think, is get leverage in the existing lawsuit."
The lawsuit has dragged on for years and is likely to stretch into 2014. Depositions in the case were slated for September.
"It's going to get real ugly before this is over," Peters said of the lawsuit.
Park City residents and ski industry observers were hopeful the legal battle would not disrupt the pending ski season.
"I'm hopeful a resolution can be reached," Park City Mayor Dana Williams told FOX 13 on Thursday.
In a blog post on its website, Park City Mountain Resort said, "We're not going anywhere."
"In the unlikely event we have to shut down for all or part of the winter, you get the appropriate refund. No questions asked. And no restrictions," the resort said.