Lauth distress over French Lick casino not over

From The
January 1, 2007
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Lauth Property Group may have ended its contentious battle with Bloomington billionaire Bill Cook this week to develop the $382 million French Lick casino and hotel project, but its real battle involving the Orange County resort may have just begun.

The Indianapolis-based developer still faces a breach-of-contract claim seeking $100 million by Chicago-based Merit Management, a hotel and casino developer. Merit and Lauth initially teamed up to develop the French Lick project but failed to obtain a gaming license. Lauth later paired with Cook.

Last month, Hamilton County Superior Judge Stephen Nation ruled that a contract existed between Lauth and Merit, clearing the way for a trial in Merit's pursuit of $100 million in damages against Lauth.

On Wednesday, Cook's team bought out Lauth's share in Orange County Holdings LLC, ending their contentious relationship that included accusations from Lauth that Cook's project managers were incompetent and drove up costs of the casino and hotel project. Last year, Lauth offered to buy out Cook's share in the project for nearly $200 million. Cook countered with a mere $5 million.

Whatever the amount, Merit may well have its eyes on claiming it under its litigation, said Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Gaming Insight and Indiana Legislative Insight. "Lauth has added problems in that it's not resolved the Merit [litigation]," he said.

Some observers say Lauth likely walked away with a share of Orange County Holdings closer to the figure for which Cook offered to buy out Lauth. If so, that could be useful in limiting damages that could be collected by Merit if it were to prevail-so long as Lauth cut a deal with Cook that could provide the developer with future revenues, said one source who asked to not be identified.

Lauth officials aren't talking, other than to say the developer's goal "to develop and construct the Midwest's premier resort destination" was achieved, said spokesman Marc Lotter.

Edwin Broecker, a Sommer & Barnard attorney who represents Cook's Orange County group, said the Lauth settlement is a plus for the project.

"This was a great opportunity to have a single focus and vision for the project and how to build on the early momentum that's been there," Broecker said.

Remaining to be completed, Broecker said, is the resort's Pete Dye-designed golf course, which should be ready for play as early as next spring.

The Lauth-Cook partnership appeared problematic from the start, said Feigenbaum, noting the good will Cook has in Southern Indiana.

"It seems like Lauth essentially wanted out since Day One, when they realized they really weren't being treated as a 50-percent partner."

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  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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