SILVER SUMMIT -- A judge has ruled that Park City Mountain Resort will have to post a $17.5 million bond if it wants to have a ski season this winter.
The multi-million dollar figure was handed down at the end of a hearing Friday here in 3rd District Court, where Judge Ryan Harris presented his own number to attorneys for PCMR and Talisker Holdings.
"This is clearly the largest eviction case I've ever seen," he told a packed courtroom.
The judge rejected numbers from both PCMR and Talisker, who were more than $100 million apart. He based the number off of $5 million rent, treble damages and attorney's fees. The bond will guarantee a 2014-15 season for PCMR, stave off eviction from the mountain, and also guard against damages should they ultimately lose their lawsuit.
PCMR has until Sept. 12 to post the bond.
Outside court, PCMR attorney Alan Sullivan said he would consult with his client before deciding whether they would pay. He said they remained "optimistic" about a ski season this winter.
"I need to talk to the client about that and we'll let you know," he told reporters. "This is a decision the client has to make."
Attorneys for Talisker Holdings left court refusing to comment. In a statement, Talisker attorney John Lund said they would not appeal the judge's decision.
Here is the statement from Talisker:
"Talisker believes the uncertainty about the coming season must come to an end and obviously PCMR can do that right now by posting the bond in the amount determined by the Court. We respect the Court’s decision and will not be appealing it, even though the amount is below what we asked for and well below what Talisker will continue to seek in damages as the case proceeds. Especially considering the amount the Court has determined, any suggestion that PCMR and the Cummings cannot not post the bond is foolishness because PCMR generated over tens of millions in profits over the past three years using Talisker’s land without a right to do so. And of course, the Cummings themselves have considerable resources and should have no trouble at all posting a bond in this amount if they truly wish to do right by the Park City community. As for Talisker and Vail, we will be continuing to work on a long-term resolution to this entire situation, but right now it’s time for both parties and everyone else to focus on the upcoming season and making it the best one possible for everyone in Park City."
If PCMR wants to operate beyond the 2014-15 season, they would have to post another bond which Judge Harris set at $19 million. It would go up every season after that, he said.
"For now, we're going to have to take things on a season-by-season basis," the judge said.
PCMR and Talisker have been locked in high-stakes litigation over the fate of the resort. Judge Harris ruled that PCMR missed a deadline to renew its lease on the mountain, which is controlled by Talisker.
Talisker has sought to evict PCMR and bring in Vail Resorts, which operates the nearby Canyons resort. The judge ordered both sides into mediation in hopes of resolving it.
"They are not to the point that they can get there," Judge Harris said.
While not bound by mediation deadlines, Sullivan told FOX 13 it was his hope that PCMR and Talisker/Vail would continue talks. If that doesn't work, the case will have to go to trial.
Judge Harris scheduled a Sept. 30 hearing where he will set a trial date.
The case is closely watched by the Park City community, with thousands of jobs and millions of dollars at stake. If PCMR were to not open, Park City leaders estimated the economic hit would take them back to 2008 recession levels.
The ski industry in Utah generates more than a billion dollars annually.
"The judge told them what they can have," said Mike Sweeney, who owns the Town Lift Plaza in Park City. "If they want a ski season, then they're going to have to post a bond. But they have all sorts of alternatives, so we're going to have to see what decision they make."