Lauth distress over French Lick casino not over

From The
January 1, 2007
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
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."

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues