Buckley, Vail Resorts readying for courtroom battle
December 18, 2003
Eagle County District Court Judge Tom Moorhead ruled in favor of Avon Town Councilman Pete Buckley, rejecting Vail Resorts’ motion to dismiss Buckley’s $2 million lawsuit.”We are pleased with Judge Moorhead’s rulings,” said Buckley. “His rulings help clear the way to getting our case in front of an Eagle County jury.”Martha Rehm, senior vice president and general counsel of Vail Resortssaid she can’t wait to cross swords in court.”Peter Buckley’s outrageous statements, absurd allegations andunfair attack achieve the almost impossible – they make Vail Resortsinto a victim,” said Rehm.Pete Buckley and his wife operate InternetVail.com, a home computer and Internet business. They were accused of illegally flooding Vail.net’s e-mail server with almost 20,000 “spam” messages, or bogus e-mails. Those charges were dropped by District Attorney Mark Hurlbert because of insufficient evidence. Hurlbert said Vail.net’s services had been disrupted, but he couldn’t prove Buckley was the one responsible.Vail.net is partially owned by Vail Resorts, and competes with Buckley’s company for high-speed Internet clients.Buckley said his case against the ski company started with a $7,000 action in small claims court about a year and a half ago. It has since escalated into a $2 million lawsuit in which Buckley is alleging defamation, abuse of process and malicious prosecution.”I fully intend to hold these individuals responsible for actions that resulted in me being falsely charged with three felony counts,” said Buckley. “Their actions have damaged my business and have hurt my and my wife Debbie’s reputations.”Baloney, says Rehm.”In this matter, we are absolutely, utterly, definitely, totally, completely, unequivocally, positively, 100-percent certain that right is on our side,” said Rehm.Buckley’s lawsuit names John Uhley, vice president of internet services for Vail.net; Vail Resorts and Vail.net.”Let’s call a spade a spade,” said Rehm. “Peter Buckley, whose company InternetVail.com is a direct competitor of Vail.net, which is partially owned by Vail Resorts, has declared war on Vail Resorts.”Buckley alleges everything started when he and his wife, Debbie, helped force competition for high speed Internet access in Avon with Vail.net. Buckley said the Avon Town Council, of which his wife is also a member, started legal action against AT&T Broadband two years ago, forcing AT&T to build out Avon’s broadband system. That provided the entire town with access to high-speed cable modems from a company other than Vail.net.That effectively eliminated Vail.net’s high-speed data monopoly in Avon, Buckley said, giving Avon residents a choice between Vail.net or AT&T for high-speed Internet.Buckley said it was after he and the town council prodded AT&T to create competition for high-speed access that his problems with Vail Resorts began.”It was after their Vail.net monopoly was eliminated that Debbie and I were first served with a search warrant,” said Buckley.That search warrant, he said, resulted from a Vail.net employee’s report.Buckley said his computer expert, Buddy Shipley, gave a convincing technical presentation to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s computer experts in Denver, which Hurlbert attended. After that presentation, Hurlbert dropped the felony charges.Buckley said he has won in every court appearance since then: beating the three felony counts, beating Vail Resorts motion to get the lawsuit dismissed, and beating Vail Resorts request to get him to pay their court costs.”We look forward to the day of our civil trial,” said Buckley. “We have an excellent case.”The wheels of justice turn slowly, and when the case is decided, Rehm said, those wheels will turn in Vail Resorts’ direction.”It has often been said that he who laughs last, laughs best,” said Rehm. “We cannot wait to be vindicated in the court of law and in the court of public opinion.”The case- September 2001 – Vail.net, a local e-mail and Internet provider owned by Vail Resorts, reports its server was overwhelmed with nearly 20,000 messages, effectively shutting down service to Vail.net customers.- October 2001 – Charges of felony computer crime and transmitting a computer virus are filed by the District Attorney’s Office; the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation seize a dozen computers from Buckley’s home- February 2002 – Buckley gets his computers back.- June 2002 – Buckley files a defamation lawsuit against Vail Resorts, Vail.net and John Uhley of Vail.net.- January 2003 – A judge dismisses charges against Buckley stemming from an error made when the charges were originally filed.- February 2003 – Hurlbert refiles charges against Buckley.- April 2003 – Bruce Black, attorney for Vail Resorts, John Uhley and Vail.net introduces a motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit.- July – Hurlbert attends a presentation about computer systems at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. After that presentation, he drops the charges against Buckley.- December – District Court Judge Tom Moorhead rejects Vail Resorts request to dismiss Buckley’s $2 million lawsuit. Buckley’s lawsuit accuses Vail Resorts of defamation, abuse of process and malicious prosecution. The case appears headed for trial.