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Settlement resolves casino money cases

September 28, 2011

The six-year casino revenue litigation that sparked multiple lawsuits statewide, went to Indiana’s appellate courts multiple times, and led to legislative initiatives is coming to a close.

Under an executed settlement agreement, most of the litigation involving how East Chicago and various entities used the casino money will be resolved. East Chicago will receive $11.7 million originally designated for the for-profit East Chicago Second Century Inc. – which is now being dissolved. Payments to Second Century were halted by the Indiana Gaming Commission in 2006 after an investigation found the corporation was spending its small percentage of casino revenue on non-economic development, which went against the local development agreement enacted in the 1990s and was at the heart of this litigation.

Now, the 31 city properties that Second City owns will be transferred to the nonprofit Foundations of East Chicago, according to the settlement. The Foundations will receive $20 million, which is its share of the 2 percent of casino revenues under the 1994 Local Development Agreement. Those payments had been put on hold in 2007 after Foundations filed a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of that deal.

A new local development agreement enacted in June following a settlement in that suit gives both the city and Foundations a percentage of the casino revenues to be spent on economic development, infrastructure, or public safety.

Second Century attorney J. Lee McNeely will receive $1.2 million for his years of work representing the entity, the agreement states.

According to the settlement, a total of five pending lawsuits will be resolved – Foundations v. East Chicago, No. 9D13-0705-PL-019348; Second Century v. Resorts, No. 49D01-0504-PL-014394; Second Century v. Indiana Gaming Commission, et al, No. 49D01-0606-CC-025440; Second Century v. Resorts, No. 49D01-0706-PL-022673; and City of East Chicago v. Indiana Gaming Commission, No. 49D05-1106-PL-022283.

In the past two years, the lines of litigation have gone up to the Court of Appeals several times – including two pending appeals – and the Indiana Supreme Court has issued three decisions delving into these local development agreement and casino-revenue related issues - Zoeller v. Second Century in April 13, 2009, City of East Chicago v. Second Century in June 2009, and Foundations of East Chicago v. East Chicago and State in May 2010.

With this settlement, the only outstanding claim will be one brought by the Indiana attorney general. The AG praised the agreement and said all the blame for the years of court battles fall onto former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick and his administration for allowing economic development money to be paid to the for-profit Second Century. This litigation is not directly connected to the federal civil racketeering suit against Pastrick that last year resulted in a $108 million judgment against the former mayor and his top allies, but how the casino revenue agreements and how that money was spent became a part of those court arguments and led the AG to push for legislation seeking more transparency in how local development agreements are reached.

Rehearing "Second Century suit can proceed" IL Nov. 10-23, 2010

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