Suit targets seat slasher

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SANDPOINT — Who has been slashing dozens of chair lift seats at Schweitzer Mountain Resort the last two winter seasons?

David Markwardt, according to a lawsuit filed in 1st District Court by Schweitzer Mountain Ski Operations LLC on April 8.

The suit alleges Markwardt used a sharp object or tool to intentionally damage 62 seat cushions on five of the resort’s seven chair lifts during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. Markwardt is blamed for damaging seat cushions on the Basin Express, Lakeview Triple, Great Escape Quad, Snow Ghost and Stella chair lifts.

The serial seat slashing vexed the resort enough that a $1,000 reward was offered last year for information leading to the culprit. At the time, the damages reportedly cost the resort nearly $70,000.

Schweitzer security officials and Bonner County sheriff’s deputies investigated the vandalism.

On Jan. 15 alone, Markwardt slashed 15 seats on four lifts, the suit alleges. Two days later, he was prohibited from being anywhere on resort-owned property except the two rooms he owns in the Selkirk Lodge and a parking garage.

But resort officials doubt he will abide by the trespass order.

“Schweitzer believes that Markwardt will not comply with the trespass warning and therefore seeks an injunction barring Markwardt from Schweitzer owned properties, in addition to damages,” Peter Erbland, the resort’s legal counsel in the matter, said in the suit.

In addition to a permanent injunction and compensatory damages, the suit seeks punitive damages for outrageous conduct and attorney fees.

Markwardt has 20 days in which to file an answer to the civil complaint or risks a default judgment against him.

Calls placed to both of Markwardt’s rooms at the Selkirk Lodge rang unanswered on Tuesday. A cell phone message and an email sent to him through the social networking site Facebook yielded no immediate responses.

Markwardt describes himself on Facebook as a retired physician with five university degrees who splits his time between Sandpoint, Redmond Ore., and Yellowstone National Park.

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