The wait is over.
Tooele City owes the developer of Overlake $22.5 million.
Utah 3rd District Court Judge Randall Skanchy released a decision Tuesday that denied motions made by Tooele City challenging a June 2009 jury verdict in the Tooele Associates vs. Tooele City lawsuit.
The judge’s ruling leaves the four-year old $22.5 million jury award against Tooele City intact.
The jury made the award after finding Tooele City broke the terms of the development agreement for the Overlake project.
“This is the largest award in a developer-versus-city lawsuit in the state of Utah, and possibly in the nation,” said Bruce Baird, attorney for Tooele Associates.
If left unchallenged, the judge’s ruling means Tooele City owes Tooele Associates $22.5 million, less any amount awarded to Tooele City for its countersuit.
The jury awarded Tooele City $1.8 million, but Baird expects that the judge may substantially lower that amount when he enters his written judgment and award.
The Tooele City Council is waiting to see the final written judgment before members decide how to proceed, according to Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy.
“The city council will need to review the written decision and decide if they want to appeal anything,” he said.
If they decide not to appeal, the city has several options it may use to pay the judgment, according to Dunlavy.
“We’ve made contingency plans for this,” he said. “We have 10 years to pay the judgment and several assets that can be used, including property and water rights. Using property tax money will only be used as a last resort.”
Tooele Associates filed several lawsuits against the city in 2002 asking for a total of $220 million in damages and the city has spent over $5 million defending itself from those lawsuits, Dunlavy said.
“Since I became mayor, the city has tried on several occasions to meet with Drew Hall, Tooele Associates managing partner, and resolve these suits out of court,” said Dunlavy. “I hoped we could end this lawsuit like we did the one with Grantsville, but it was not possible.”
With yesterday’s decision the case is close to conclusion, barring further appeals.
“We are grateful to the court and the jury in their taking steps to right the wrongs that Tooele City did to our project,” said Hall. “We have always had the utmost faith in the American system of justice and it is wonderful to see that faith sustained.”
Tooele Associates is still waiting for a decision on pre-judgment interest that could add another $11 million to the award, along with a request for attorney fees, said Baird.