SANDPOINT — A condominium owner accused of repeatedly slashing chair lift seats at Schweitzer Mountain Resort denies the allegations against him and claims he is the victim of a vendetta.
The resort filed suit against David Donald Markwardt in 1st District Court in April, alleging that he used a sharp object or tool to intentionally damage 62 cushions on five of the resort’s lift during the last two winter seasons.
The resort is seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Markwardt, in addition to a permanent injunction barring him from being anywhere on the resort except his two condos and a parking garage.
Markwardt filed an answer and a counterclaim last month in which he denies vandalizing chair lift seats and alleges that he is being targeted for filing complaints against the resort for violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
“This case against me is based on the fact that Chasse has had a vendetta against me ever since I engaged in my civic duty to help the disabled and by being a good citizen by reporting law breaking cowards,” Markwardt said in his May 30 answer to the resort’s suit.
Markwardt, who describes himself in court documents as a Vietnam veteran with service-related injuries, further alleges that the resort punitively removed his two condos from the rental pool. He also blames the resort for damage done to his units and missing personal items.
Although Schweitzer’s surveillance cameras and lift pass scanners can track a visitor’s whereabouts, Markwardt said he never rode on the vandalism-stricken lifts on the dates he’s accused of slashing seat covers.
Replacement of the seat covers cost Schweitzer nearly $9,000.
Schweitzer President and CEO Tom Chasse contends there is no vendetta and that his interactions with Markwardt have been cordial. Chasse added that Markwardt’s dispute with the resort predates his hiring.
Chasse said the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development investigated Markwardt’s ADA allegations and found that the resort was in compliance, although it did have to widen a handicap space to accommodate vans with wheelchair lifts.
“The ruling was favorable to Schweitzer,” Chasse said. “He just won’t let it go.”