Grand Canyon Skywalk Lawsuit Heads to Court

The convoluted legal wrangles between the Hualapai tribe and its partners in the Grand Canyon Skywalk venture will meet in court in April.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Lawsuit Heads to Court

Both sides claim millions in compensation

A defamation lawsuit against the Hualapai tribe by its former partners in the Grand Canyon Skywalk could drag on indefinitely, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Attorneys for late Skywalk developer David Jin and former general manager Theodore Quasula have sued seven members of the tribe and their PR consultants in a public war in which Jin was portrayed as an unethical partner who misled the tribe throughout their business relationship. The tribe later took over the operation, and an arbitrator awarded Jin a $28.6 million payoff.

In one undated memo by the tribe’s PR firm Scutari & Cieslak, Jin was called “Arizona’s version of Leona Helmsley and Bernie Madoff.”

“This was a completely made-up fabrication to ruin his name for one thing, so that the public would not feel bad when the tribe took Skywalk away,” Jin’s attorney Mark Tratos said.

Both sides have slammed the other with allegations of not finishing the Skywalk infrastructure and failing to pay necessary fees. The Jin team also has charged some tribal members with embezzlement.

But tribal attorney Thomas Ryan said the lawsuit is an attempt to “chill the basic right of freedom of speech … and affront the sovereignty of the Hualapai Tribe.”

Skywalk is a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway that extends 70 feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon. Jin partnered with the tribe to develop the tourist attraction, but the company has since gone bankrupt. Skywalk is now profitably operated by a different company.

Before his death from cancer in June 2013, Jin said he was owed $405.9 million to cover the arbitration award plus estimated income from a revenue-sharing and management agreement with the tribe that ran through 2028. The tribe claims it is owed $20.2 million in taxes and various fees.

In April, the court will decide whether the bankruptcy reorganization plan of ‘Sa’ Nyu Wa Inc., filed in Arizona, can move forward.