Grand Canyon Skywalk Lawsuit Ends in Settlement

A contract dispute over the Grand Canyon Skywalk, has finally come to an end after three long years.

grand canyon skywalk

Photo Credit: Abseilon USA

The transparent horseshoe-shaped bridge is a tourist attraction in the northwestern Arizona reservation, near the Colorado River. The Hualapai tribe, which owns the Grand Canyon Skywalk, and Developer Grand Canyon Skywalk Development have finally reached a financial settlement. Details of the settlement were not disclosed and remain confidential. But they do resolve all legal battles in bankruptcy, tribal, and federal court.

Attorney John G. Bickerman of Bickerman Dispute Resolution PLLC and retired U.S. District Court Judge Jerry whitehead both mediated the deal. The Hualapai tribe will maintain its management of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which has been a popular tourist attraction since it opened in 2007. “The Skywalk is an important element in the economic growth and expansion that the Hualapai have enjoyed over the past decade. We are thankful for the contribution David Jin and his company GCSD made to develop this wonderful attraction,” the tribe’s chairwoman, Sherry Counts, said in a statement.

The tribe used an eminent domain ordinance to write Jin out of his management role and after Jin’s death last year, his family went after what Jin thought were violations of his constitutional rights. Jin’s lawyers argued that the Hualapai tribe owed him as much as $277 million. But according to the tribe, Jin breached his contract after failing to complete a visitor’s center for tourists to walk through before stepping out onto the glass bridge.

In anticipation of the eminent domain, the 3 year long litigation first started when Jin first sued the tribe in 2011. He accused members of the tribe of fraud and embezzlement, claiming they invoked sovereign immunity in order to hide financial records. In 2012, the tribe was ordered to make their financial records available for Jin’s company to pay business expenses, audit, and pay management fees, which constituted a breach of contract. The tribe appealed the judgment but they were forced to file for bankruptcy. Jin also filed a federal defamation lawsuit in Nevada against the tribe’s PR firm and other members of the tribe. The PR firm still remains a defendant in that case.

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But after the days-long mediation session, both parties have reached a settlement and both seem to be pleased. “David cared for the Hualapai people and the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon,” said his wife, Yvonne Tang. “He would be so proud that people from all over Asia and the world will continue to appreciate the architectural marvel he created.”

The glass bridge extends out 70 feet from the west rim of the Grand Canyon with views of the Colorado River 4,000 feet below. Millions have visited the Grand Canyon Skywalk since it first opened in 2007.