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JUDGE SETS 2 DATES FOR TRIAL IN MALL’S SUIT AGAINST SMITH’S

SHARE JUDGE SETS 2 DATES FOR TRIAL IN MALL’S SUIT AGAINST SMITH’S

A 3rd District judge has set two dates to settle the dispute between representatives of Olympus Hills Shopping Center and Smith's Food King.

The trial dates were set amid allegations by Olympus Hills officials that the shopping center has experienced a 70 percent decrease in traffic since Smith's moved its drug and food center from the premises, causing the center financial harm.Judge Michael R. Murphy will decide during a non-jury portion of the trial on Aug. 28 whether to terminate or continue the original 30-year lease between the parties.

Olympus Hills Attorney Robert S. Campbell Jr. said the ruling will allow that portion of the case to be determined quickly in the center's battle against the supermarket chain.

Judge Murphy has accelerated the trial because "of the significant problems faced by the center," Campbell said.

On Sept. 11, a jury will hear arguments from both sides and decide how to settle the issues of breach of lease and damages, Campbell said.

The shopping center has received an offer from Dan's Food Stores to lease the space formerly occupied by Smith's supermarket. Olympus Hills officials, however, say they cannot accept the offer because Smith's opened a warehouse, box-discount store at the site, 3981 S. Wasatch Blvd., in June.

The judge set both trial dates during a hearing earlier this week.

The court actions will determine whether Smith's breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing when it moved from the center to the site of a former Skaggs Alpha Beta store, 3171 E. 3300 South.

"We didn't expect this case to end up like this. Olympus Hills has amended its complaint three times," said Smith's attorney Mark O. Morris. "The claims of the parties have grown as time has gone by."

The trial is the result of a lawsuit filed by the shopping center against the supermarket chain in March. The suit accused Smith's of breaching its lease agreement and devising a deceitful plan to relocate two miles from the center.