Mount Snow v. NBC: Judge denies summary judgment


DOVER -- A judge has denied motions made by both Mount Snow and organizers of the Winter Dew Tour to issue a ruling in a lawsuit related to a falling out between the two entities. The lawsuit was filed by Mount Snow when Alli, the organizer of the Dew Tour, moved the 2010 tour stop to Killington.

And although there may not be a formal contract signed by both parties, which was the basis for Alli's request for dismissal of the lawsuit, the judge still thinks there was some kind of agreement that may need to be honored.

According to court documents from August, Mount Snow was denied a summary judgment because its claim of $3 million worth of damages, measured by the media value, will need to be decided by a jury. Mount Snow was not paid for its hosting of the Winter Dew Tour stop in 2009, but there had been estimates that hosting the event for three years would be worth $2 million in media value.

In January 2012, Mount Snow filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in Brattleboro. Mount Snow had claimed that defendants Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports, NBC Universal LLC and NBC Sports Ventures Llc had breached a binding contract and sought a ruling, in which Mount Snow would be entitled to recover damages.

The Winter Dew Tour organizers opposed the motion because they said the contract "was never fully executed and is not enforceable." They claimed that the breach of contract should be dismissed because Mount Snow could not establish damages.

There also had been disagreements on the size of the halfpipe. The tour organizers requested that Mount Snow build a 22-foot halfpipe, which was becoming the size of preference among pro athletes at the time. Mount Snow was firm in its decision to maintain its 18-foot halfpipe, but the organizers of the tour believed that without a bigger half-pipe, they wouldn't be able to solicit big-name snowboarders to compete.

In 2009, Mount Snow had hosted the inaugural Winter Dew Tour East Coast event without payment. Then in November, the parties started negotiations for a two-year agreement, where Mount Snow would host a stop for the event in 2010 and 2011, with an option for 2012.

Mount Snow had increased snowmaking to prepare for the 2010 event, in November 2009. Attorneys claimed "other preparations such as reserving hotel rooms, scheduling and arranging for the construction of the course and an area for spectators and display monitors, were ongoing throughout the winter," according to court documents.

The lawsuit stated that in the agreement between the parties, the contract could be terminated by giving the other party notice "no later than 60 days after the completion of the 2009-2010 event" and that the decision to not include Dover was made well after that. Mount Snow officials claimed they weren't made aware of the decision to drop Mount Snow for tour dates in 2011 until July 13, 2010, which was more than 90 days after that year's tour ended on April 7, 2010, according to court documents.

The defendants asked the court to dismiss Mount Snow's motion in a summary judgment, partially based on the fact there was no signed agreement between the parties. However, the evidence was not clear enough for the court to decide in Mount Snow's or the defendants' favor. The judge noted that while there was no completed contract in evidence, in Vermont an oral agreement often is legally binding.

Mount Snow opposed the motion for the defendants' own summary judgment, citing the promotion considerations the organizers promised. The mountain's attorneys claimed that benefits that it lost when the Winter Dew Tour moved to Killington included "references and mentions on television and Internet programming, signage, advertising, print, Internet and local news editorials and other promotional advertising."

The ruling that Mount Snow was seeking was said to be "appropriate only where the parties' submissions show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

The court ultimately decided that if both parties can agree, a second mediation session may be scheduled on or before Sept. 30. If it is not settled then or a mediation session is not scheduled, the case will be placed on the next available trial calendar after Dec. 1.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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