Dispute over attraction continues

Tribe claims they did not get proceeds from Skywalk

KINGMAN - The dispute over the proceeds from one of Arizona's most unique tourists attractions will move from the courtroom to the boardroom soon.

The American Arbitration Association has granted Las Vegas businessman David Jin's request for arbitration in a long-standing dispute between his company Grand Canyon Skywalk Development and Sa Nyu Wa, the Hualapai Tribe's tourism organization.

According to Ryan Tarkowski, a spokesman for David Jin, an arbiter has been chosen to help settle the dispute and a date is expected to be set in the next few weeks.

Attorneys for Sa Nyu Wa have objected, saying Jin has not gotten a court order to compel the two sides into arbitration.

Dave Cieslak, a spokesman for the tribe, also said that tribe hopes to continue to try and resolve the situation through discussions with Jin. A tribal member has had several one-on-one meetings with Jin in Las Vegas that have been very productive, he said.

Jin's attorney stated in a letter to the tribe that according to the contract, either side may request arbitration and a court order is not necessary.

Each side claims that the other side has not up held their side of a contract governing the development of and proceeds from the Skywalk, a glass-bottomed bridge that juts out from the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Jin and the tribe signed an agreement to build the tourist attraction in 2003. Jin was supposed to build and operate the Skywalk and a visitor's center for 25 years. The tribe was supposed to get half of the proceeds from the sale of tickets and would own the attraction.

Jin claims he has not received his fair share of the proceeds since 2008. The tribe claims that Jin has purposely not finished the visitor center and is not giving them their fair share of the proceeds.

Jin filed two lawsuits, one in federal court to stop any takeover of the contract by eminent domain and one in tribal court to force the two sides into arbitration.

The federal suit was dismissed a few months ago, and the judge ordered Jin to exhaust all remedies in tribal court before re-filing the case in federal court.

The tribal court dismissed the case on Aug. 2, saying that Sa Nyu Wa had not waived its rights to sovereign immunity in tribal court, but did waive its rights in federal court according to the contract.