The “Virgin Three” and Zion Sunset Resort have reached a settlement in the lawsuit filed by Zion Sunset Resort. The two parties were due to meet in court on Thursday, Sept. 10, as the first order of business of the Fifth District Court in St. George. The Cedar City-based Zion Sunset Resort had filed a lawsuit against the Virgin Three for defamation liability, charging that the three residents of Virgin, Utah, unfairly caused Zion Sunset Resort to lose a referendum vote in the town and, as a result, the ability to develop a large parcel of land. The hearing on Thursday was to decide whether to dismiss Zion Sunset Resort’s lawsuit as an outright violation of the Utah Code which makes “strategic lawsuits against public participation”—known as “SLAPP” suits—in government illegal.
Previous to the settlement, friends and supporters of the Virgin Three had been asked to show up in court to support the effort.
“We are asking our friends and supporters to help fill the courtroom,” wrote Lisa Rutherford, one of the supporters, in an bulk email. “These 3 brave folks need your emotional support in this critical moment.”
As a result of the settlement, there won’t be any need for friends to gather at the courthouse now.
Mark Savee, the first named defendant in the case, wouldn’t discuss the settlement because it doesn’t allow any disclosure of terms. However, Savee did say that he had been looking forward to having his day in court because he hoped that a clear result under Utah’s SLAPP suit law would prevent other civic-minded people from having to endure the months of struggle and the possibility of financial ruin that he and the other two defendants have experienced. Savee said that having a settlement was a “bittersweet” result; he was glad it was over, but he regretted that no legal precedent would be set as a result.