A local pair’s efforts to hold Northstar California Resort responsible for a paid parking plan announced after many 2019/20 season passes had been already purchased may not have a happy ending for the complainants.
Steven Kroll, the attorney who filed a Dec. 6, 2019 complaint for damages and equitable relief against Northstar parent company Vail Resorts, is also one of two plaintiffs in the matter. Now, Kroll has filed an emergency motion for early rule on Feb. 17 to combat what he sees as the resort “deliberately running out the clock.” Three days later, on Feb. 20, Kroll told Moonshine Ink he was notified that the court denied his emergency motion.
“This means that the part of the lawsuit that hoped to get free parking for season pass holders in Northstar’s Village View lot for what’s left of the season is dead,” he wrote in an email.
The initial early December complaint formally expresses Kroll’s and Ron Code’s frustration over Northstar’s parking management plan, implemented for the 2019/20 season after Kroll, Code, and presumably others had already purchased their season passes.
Until this season, Kroll and Code, who’ve held passes at Northstar for 20-plus years, enjoyed free parking at the Home Run parking area, adjacent to the Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe gondola. One aspect of the document the pair filed against the resort addresses breach of contract — whether or not their Senior Tahoe Value Passes for Northstar, expiring May 2020, include the same free parking as previous seasons.
“The ticket part we don’t have any case after the end of the ski season, so there is a very severe time limitation here and I hope I can jog the court into hearing this,” Kroll said.
The second part of Kroll’s and Code’s complaint centers around common law fraud.
“Defendant VAIL RESORTS, INC.,” reads the complaint, “has appropriated and subverted the World Wide Web for its own wrongful purposes, compelling every person making any purchase of any kind at or for its NORTHSTAR facility to do so over the Web, and by so doing unknowingly consent to allegedly binding ‘Terms and Conditions’ not written with ink upon numbered pages, but upon the weak and shifting sands of the Internet.”
According to Kroll, Vail motioned to dismiss his lawsuit on Jan. 17, which he quickly responded to with an opposition, filed Jan. 20. Vail’s dismissal points to lack of subject-matter jurisdiction (due to not satisfying the monetary threshold) and personal jurisdiction (the case is filed in Nevada, where Vail does not reside).
“Vail Resorts is saying that the only thing involved here is a $450 season ticket, and that’s the limit of my damage, and that I can’t go into federal court whose jurisdictional court is $75,000,” Kroll explained. “The thing is the complaint itself says our fraud claim is not limited to the cheating on the parking thing. It’s much more extensive because of the way they’ve used the internet to entwine us into this thing where they are manipulating us up and down and sideways.”
Regarding the filing in Nevada, Kroll refuted Vail’s claim with his own assertion that the contracts from Northstar were offered and signed in Nevada.
“Other parts of the judge’s denial suggest strongly that she’s going to throw the fraud portion of the lawsuit out as well, probably granting Vail’s Motion to Dismiss,” Kroll wrote in his Feb. 20 email. “We’ll have to wait for that, however.”
Northstar’s updated parking management plan allows free parking in the Castle Peak lot with complimentary shuttle service, and requires those who want to park closer to Northstar Village to pay $10 to $20 on weekdays and $20 to $40 on weekends, depending on the lot.
Kroll and Code make the case that to enjoy the same pass holder privileges they’ve held in previous years — parking at the Home Run lot — would mean adding over $2,000 in parking fees. The alternative is to park at the Castle Peak lot about 2 miles away.
Moonshine reached out to Northstar for comment regarding the lawsuit but was informed by staff that Vail does not comment on pending legislation.
Regarding the effects on traffic flow and parking since Northstar’s updated parking plan, however, Russ Carlton, senior manager over Vail’s Tahoe-area communications, said the resort has seen success.
“We have experienced less overall vehicle congestion on Northstar Drive, and Northstar’s shuttle service has been faster than ever this season,” he wrote via email. “Transportation is an extremely important topic for this region. Congestion, parking, traffic flow — these are not unique to Northstar and [are] a regional issue. Northstar’s leadership is actively engaged with community partners with a focus to drive positive change. As we do with all of our operations, we will continue to evaluate Northstar’s parking management plan throughout the season.”
Kroll said he isn’t necessarily concerned with the overall implementation of the parking plan; he simply wants information shared prospectively, not retroactively.
Main Image Caption: QUEUE CONDITIONS: An updated parking management plan for Northstar California Resort now offers free parking approximately 2 miles from the Northstar Village, with shuttle service provided. This photo was taken on Jan. 21, 2020, at 9:13 a.m. at the free Castle Peak lot. Courtesy photo