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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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