Legal conflict between MU, Tan Time flares up again

The Spa is taking MU to the Missouri Court of Appeals over its lease.
Tan Time's contract with the Student Recreation Complex is set to end Dec. 31. Tan Time and the university are at odds regarding Tan Time's option to renew its lease after the fall semester.

The Spa, the tanning salon in the Student Recreation Complex, plans to take MU to the Missouri Court of Appeals in a lawsuit regarding whether the company has the option to renew its lease for the spring semester.

Operated by Tan Time LLC, The Spa has been in legal battles with MU since 2008, when MU informed the company that its services would no longer be needed by the recreation complex due to health risks posed by tanning beds.

The contract between MU and Tan Time ends Dec. 31, and MU does not plan to renew the lease contract beyond that date.

“The university will not be renewing the lease contract beyond Dec. 31, 2010, and has informed The Spa partners of this decision,” Recreation Services and Facilities Director Diane Dahlmann said.

But Tan Time's lawyer said the company has the right to remain in the recreation center regardless of MU's actions.

“Basically we are saying that, first of all, it doesn’t automatically terminate on Dec. 31, 2010,” Tan Time's lawyer Thomas Schneider said. “We think it automatically renews. The Court of Appeals is going to have to answer that question.”

Legal battles between the two parties have been going on for more than two years.

“It was in August 2008 that we got the injunction against the university,” Schneider said. “They locked the doors and tried to loot us out. The trial court ruled that out.”

In fall 2009, the court ruled the contract could not be terminated until the end of 2010. But Tan Time wants to continue operations in its recreation complex location, MU lawyer Kelly Mescher said.

“We have the ability to terminate the contract, and it expires by the term,” Mescher said.

The lawsuit will be reviewed again by the Court of Appeals, where an opinion will be written. No date has been set for when the lawsuit will reach the court, but Schneider said he believes it will be in December or January.

Schneider attributes Tan Time’s desire to stay in business to the investment the company has put into it.

“They spent a whole lot of money finishing it, like $180,000,” he said about Tan Time.

Schneider said Tan Time doesn’t want to lose the space they invested money in.

Should the case not conclude until after the current contract expires, lawyers are uncertain about whether The Spa will remain in business at the recreation complex beyond the date of the contract’s expiration.

Mescher said MU hasn’t looked into that possibility yet.

“The logical thing is to just continue with the business’ operation,” Schneider said.

In the meantime, MU has no official plans for the future of the space.

“According to some of our Student Voices survey data, MU students today favor more emphasis on services typically found in day spa settings,” Dahlmann said.

She listed amenities such as de-stressing pods, various massages, manicure and pedicure services, exercise consultation and expanded personal training opportunities.

“As a result, Mizzou Rec is looking at the service options that will best fit the space available and the needs of our students today,” Dahlmann said.

She said she attributes the decision to not renew the contract to changing values among students.

“A great deal has changed since the university entered into the lease contract in 2006,” Dahlmann said. “The greatest change has been in the numbers of new students, the first-year student enrollment and the interests of new generations of students.”

Although Dahlmann said the recreation center is still exploring ideas of what will occupy the space, she expects future use of the space will be self-managed.

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