Christy sports loses appeal of Utah lawsuit
The tony Deer Valley ski complex in Utah did not violate federal antitrust laws when it restricted Lakewood-based Christy Sports from offering ski rentals there and competing with a resort-run rental shop, a federal appeals judge ruled Wednesday.
The decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a lower federal-court ruling that Deer Valley Resort Co. had the right to bar competing businesses from land it no longer owned but for which it still controlled the right of approval of tenants.
Christy Sports ” which has outlets in the Vail Valley ” filed suit against Deer Valley in 2006 after the Park City resort barred the ski-rental company from the Deer Valley village after it had been there for 15 years.
Attorneys for Christy did not return messages Wednesday, and lawyers for Deer Valley said they were pleased by the court’s affirmation.
The resort offered ski rentals at the mountain’s base, but the ritzier mid-mountain village had only Christy and another sports shop until 2005, when Deer Valley opened its own.
The suit alleged Deer Valley broke antitrust laws by preventing fair competition within the village. Though Deer Valley had sold the midmountain-village properties, the sales carried a provision that required Deer Valley’s approval for ski-rental or real-estate businesses that might want to locate there.
Christy objected when Deer Valley exercised its option to exclude it in 2005. According to court documents, the Lakewood company said the move would leave skiers with few choices other than to “carry unwieldy ski equipment onto the plane” in Salt Lake City, to ride a shuttle into Park City for inexpensive ski rentals or, more likely, rent from the only shop on the mountain.
Christy alleged the lack of competition would force consumers to pay higher rental prices from Deer Valley.
The appellate decision “sends a clear message that the federal antitrust claims brought against Deer Valley Resort lacked merit,” said Kevin Simon, attorney for the ski resort.
Agreeing with the Utah district court, the appellate judges said the owner of resort properties isn’t required to allow competing businesses into its compound, even if it benefited consumers.
“Deer Valley is not required to invite competitors onto its property to rent skis to patrons, even if a failure to do so would mean it is the sole supplier of rental skis at the ski area,” the appellate court wrote.
Restricting ski-rental businesses doesn’t hurt consumers, the court said, since overall resort pricing ” not rental costs specifically ” is what they compare.
David Migoya: 303-954-1506 or email@example.com