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Justices issue ruling in casino revenue case

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The Indiana Supreme Court ruled today on an ongoing appeal about how casino revenue is funneled to a for-profit organization in East Chicago, an issue that has also been raised in an ongoing federal racketeering suit in northern Indiana.

In its decision today in City of East Chicago v. East Chicago Second Century, et al., No. 49S02-0808-CV-00436, the justices went into great detail about which of the city's claims should survive dismissal, but more significantly they determined that any existing arrangements involving casino money can be altered only through administrative channels such as the Indiana Gaming Commission, which may incorporate advice from city officials and others on what it might "deem best for the future of East Chicago's residents."

The case is one of many appeals stemming from the casino operating agreements and license put in place during the 1990s, under former Mayor Robert Pastrick. At the time, the casino entered into a local development agreement with East Chicago where some of the casino revenue would flow to the city for development projects. That arrangement continued through 2005, when Pastrick was ousted and a new mayor began scrutinizing the casino revenue arrangements.

In 2005, Second Century sought a declaratory judgment that Resorts East Chicago would be required to continue the payments as required by a license from the Indiana Gaming Commission. Part of that stipulates the casino contributes 3.75 percent of its adjusted gross receipts - 1 percent to the city of East Chicago, 1 percent to the non-profit Twin City Education Foundation, 1 percent to the non-profit East Chicago Community Foundation, and 0.75 percent to the for-profit East Chicago Second Century Inc. Through June 2006, the Second Century group received about $16 million from the casino operation, according to the Indiana Supreme Court ruling.

A separate federal civil racketeering suit also raises these casino revenue issues, as they are connected to the former Pastrick administration that has been dubbed a "corrupt enterprise." Second Century and the foundations have recently asked to intervene in that five-year-old suit in federal court, but this state appellate ruling is not connected to that case.

Ruling on multiple issues, the Indiana justices found that then-Marion Superior Cale Bradford didn't err in dismissing several counts relating to breach of fiduciary duty; however, he did err in dismissing other claims. Specifically, justices ruled that the judge had erred in dismissing these claims outright: inducement of breach of fiduciary duty/participating in breach; breach of fiduciary duty; accounting; and two claims involving a declaratory judgment/return of public funds.

In deciding those issues and each claim, justices determined also that the city's argument that any fraudulent concealment of money should toll the statute of limitations.

"As respects those counts or parts of counts which we have held above should not survive Second Century's motion to dismiss, it is very difficult to see why equity ought to estop Second Century and the Foundations from asserting the statutes of limitation," Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote. "The counts centered on attacking the formation and confirmation of the original agreements seek to challenge action taken ten or fifteen years ago in full glare of the public arena. It simply asks too much to embrace the idea that these were 'fraudulently concealed' from the City or anyone else."

On other counts, the Supreme Court found that the city doesn't have the authority to unilaterally terminate or alter the terms of the license issued by the Indiana Gaming Commission. That falls to the state commission and lawmakers, though the city is able to make periodic changes through the commission's administrative process.

Justice Brent Dickson concurred with several of the counts, but dissented with respect to aspects of Part III involving constructive fraud/unjust enrichment claim and how it addresses the other issues of the overall suit.

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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