SALT LAKE CITY -- State lawmakers approved a $2.99 million payment Wednesday to resolve a lawsuit involving property in Tooele County dating back to 1997.
The House and Senate voted in special session to approve a settlement agreement between Deep Creek Ranch and the state armory board, opting to settle the dispute for $2,995,000, after the Supreme Court had ruled the state had breached a contract involving 780 acres in the Deep Creek Mountain Range.
The plaintiff had sought as much as $56 million in the settlement. Funds for the payout will come from the state's rainy-day fund, said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, a member of the state's executive appropriations committee.
"Three million is a good settlement to get this behind us and move on," Hillyard said of the agreement.
The payoff resolves a land dispute that started when the armory board initiated a contract to purchase 780 acres in the range for $850,000. The cost was to be paid via a transfer of state and federal surplus property -- such as vehicles and heavy equipment -- from the state to the sellers. The federal government denied the transfer, and the deal fell through. A breach of contract lawsuit by the seller resulted in a judgment against the state that was appealed all the way to the Utah Supreme Court.
The plaintiff also keeps the property as part of the settlement agreement.
Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, said things could have been worse for the state if lawmakers hadn't agreed to the settlement.