A judge has booted Smith's Food and Drug Center Inc. out of the Olympus Hills Shopping Center and ordered it to pay the center nearly $200,000 - but the war between Smith's and Olympus Hills may drag on for years.
Smith's lawyer announced Wednesday that the grocery chain will ask the Utah Supreme Court to reverse a jury verdict which found that Smith's breached its contract with Olympus Hills last spring when it closed the Smith's store located in the shopping center and later replaced it with a discount store."If Smith's appeals the judgment to the Supreme Court, the center will have difficulty in surviving regardless of whether Smith's moves out or not," said Robert S.Campbell, attorney for Olympus Hills.
Third District Court Judge Michael Murphy ordered Smith's Wednesday to immediately vacate its space in Olympus Hills, pay Olympus Hills $146,000 for breach of contract and rent, plus an additional $801 in rent for every day Smith's has stayed in Olympus Hills since Sept. 28.
Olympus Hills owner Richard Skankey is already shopping for a new anchor tenant to move into Olympus Hills, 3981 S. Wasatch.
"We have two, maybe three different grocery operators that would be interested in taking the space," he said. Olympus Hills lawyers claim traffic in the center dropped 70 percent after Smith's closed its food and drug center.
Conflict between owners of Olympus Hills and Smith's arose in March when Smith's announced it was moving its Olympus Hills outlet to a former Skaggs Alpha Beta location a few blocks away.
The suit culminated in a two-week trial and a jury verdict against Smith's in September. The jury said Smith's violated its contract with Olympus Hills by closing its food and drug center, keeping the store closed for an unreasonable length of time and finally replacing it with a discount box store.
Based on that verdict, 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy signed an order Wednesday instructing Smith's to move its discount grocery store out of the center immediately.
Smith's hasn't decided whether to move its discount store, said James S. Jardine, Smith's attorney.