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July 17, 2018

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Las Vegas developer of Grand Canyon Skywalk sues tribal council

Lawsuit alleges tribe plans to seize attraction through eminent domain


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Grand Canyon Skywalk

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Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Las Vegas company that developed the Grand Canyon Skywalk attraction is suing the Hualapai Indian tribe's governing council, charging it wrongly plans to seize the company's interest in the glass skywalk through eminent domain proceedings.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Development LLC filed suit Wednesday in Prescott, Ariz., and is seeking a preliminary injunction to block the alleged takeover plan.

A request for comment was placed with the tribe Friday.

Wednesday's lawsuit says Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, led by Las Vegas businessman David Jin, has spent more than $25 million to conceive, design, engineer, build and open the skywalk 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. It opened in 2007.

"Now that the project is opened and generating profits, Grand Canyon Skywalk Development has learned that the council defendants -- the nine members of the Tribal Council -- are planning to 'condemn' Grand Canyon Skywalk Development's interest in the Skywalk," the suit says.

The court filing charges the attraction is now worth $100 million or more and that the tribe couldn't afford to pay for Jin's interest in the attraction even if it wanted to.

While tribal officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment, the lawsuit revealed disputes have erupted over management of the attraction -- which at one point the tribe said would be given to it in exchange for a share of the revenue.

The Skywalk has generated some $5 million in cash flow during a recent nine-month period, yet Grand Canyon Skywalk Development hasn't been paid the management fee it's owed, the lawsuit says.

"Accounting irregularities, including embezzlement by an employee of a ticket-selling affiliate of SNW (a tribal business), and discrepancies between the number of tickets redeemed at the Skywalk and those reported sold by SNW and its affiliates, remain sources of conflict between the parties," a motion for an injunction against the "taking" says.

As the disputes have escalated, the tribe now intends to take away -- via eminent domain -- Grand Canyon Skywalk Development's exclusive Skywalk management rights, the motion says.

"The apparent motivation for this is to avoid the embarrassment of explaining how and why ticket revenue evaporated under SNW's watch, and, more importantly, to avoid paying past-due and future management fees to Grand Canyon Skywalk Development," the motion charges.

SNW is 'S' Nyu Wa, a tribal corporation involved in the Skywalk.

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