Mount Snow to receive $2.1M plus damages in breach of contract suit


BRATTLEBORO -- A jury in the U.S. District Court awarded damages of more than $2.1 million to Mount Snow after it sued NBC and Alli, the promoter of the Winter Dew Tour, for not delivering on an agreement.

"My client is very pleased with our verdict," said lead counselor Marc Heath, of Downs Rachlin Martin.

On May 8, jurors decided that NBC and Alli had breached a contract guaranteeing a Winter Dew Tour stop at Mount Snow for two years with an option for a third year. The event includes several snowboarding and freestyle skiing competitions.

In a statement from Mount Snow, the resort said Alli performed the first year of the contract by holding the Winter Dew Tour there in January 2010 but did not hold the second event there in 2011. Instead, it was hosted by Killington.

Attorneys claimed some of the benefits lost when the event was moved to Killington included "references and mentions on television and Internet programming, signage, advertising, print, Internet and local news editorials and other promotional advertising."

According to Heath, the case primarily had to do with damages. Jurors were asked whether Mount Snow lost a considerable amount of promotional consideration when it was deprived of hosting a second Winter Dew Tour event.

"That’s what the jury struggled with," said Heath. "What’s the damage amount of not being able to host the event?"

During the trial, jurors were shown footage from the event when it was held at Mount Snow. This, said Heath, drove home the point that it really is valuable to have the resort on national television and it had given jurors the opportunity to see what lawyers meant by promotional consideration.

"A picture shows a thousand words," he said. "I think they got the picture pretty clearly."

In addition to the $2.1 million, the jury decided that $150,000 be awarded to Mount Snow for Alli breaching the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Heath said he initially requested $5,000 for that breach. He believed the decision to increase that amount could have to do with the size of NBC and the jury may have wanted "to send a message that those hard business tactics weren’t appropriate."

According to court documents, the jury found that Alli had not notified Mount Snow of its terminating the contract within 60 days after the completion of the 2010 event and Alli had not proven that Mount Snow waived its right to enforce the 60-day termination provision. Between the two parties, there were disagreements related to the size of the halfpipe. Mount Snow had decided to maintain its 18-foot halfpipe although the 22-foot halfpipe was becoming the preference of pro athletes at the time. Dew Tour organizers believed that without the larger halfpipe, they would have a difficult time soliciting big-name snowboarders to compete.

Heath said there are provisions where courts can request a revision to the jury’s judgment.

"But I don’t think that’s going to be an issue," he added.

As of Wednesday, Heath had not heard from NBC and Alli’s lawyers as to whether they would be appealing the decision but said he presumed that they would be considering their options.

"There are several outstanding issues before the court that still have to be addressed but Mount Snow is very pleased that the jury found in our favor," Mount Snow said in a statement.

Attorney Robert Hemley, who was represented NBC and Alli, was not available for comment.


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