Defendants in Grand Station fight say Texas groups have no claims

Published 7:52 pm Friday, March 7, 2014

Nine defendants a lawsuit filed by warring factions of the defunct Grand Station Casino and Hotel’s ownership have asked the case be thrown out of court.
Documents filed in federal court in Jackson last week request the action filed in January by AGT Capital LLC against principals of the casino auctioned for scrap last April and the adjacent hotel vacant since 2012 be thrown out. The case is before U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee.
AGT filed the suit as an assignee and successor in interest to Alexandra Trust and Avondale Shipyards Inc., two minor investors in M Street Investments Inc., which had offered $400,000 for the 36,000 square-foot casino as part of bankruptcy proceedings. All three entities are based in Texas. The suit said Great Southern Investment Group Inc., which had owned the hotel, had no legal claim to the hotel due to issues over how votes were taken in June 2012 to replace M Street’s corporate board.
The defendants argue multiple points of law the claim is baseless. M Street’s motion in support of dismissing the case says Alexandra was not a “beneficial owner” of stock in M Street, Great Southern or another hotel-related firm mentioned in the suit, NIT Management.
“As such, Alexandra Trust has no claim as a “beneficial owner” and all derivative claims asserted by Alexandra must be dismissed,” read the motion in part.
A deal struck by parties in the bankruptcy had $189,217.89 being paid starting this month to the court’s trustee to drop all legal claims and speed up a sale of the hotel. Completed in principle last July, that deal would secure the 117-room hotel to Vicksburg Hotel LLC, headed by Biloxi businessman Charles Lambert.
The city, not named in Thursday’s action, was to receive $205,534.11 to cover water, sewer and natural gas bills owed by the former gaming venue and transfer two parking garages on the east side of Levee Street back to the city. That total represents just 19 percent of the $1.1 million the city had estimated it was owed in back payments on rent stemming from a 1993 agreement with Harrah’s, the casino boat’s original owner.
M Street’s offer for the vessel didn’t close due to concerns over maintenance and insurance issues, according to court papers.
Named with M Street, Great Southern and NIT as defendants in the lawsuit are Jeffrey W. Parlin, Donald A. Bailey, Brett Maverick Venture Fund LP, Sandra Bailey, Niki Weiss and Ronald K. Lewis. Alexandra Trust is headed by Texas businessman Richard Sterritt; Avondale is led by Ken Bickford, of Louisiana, who announced in the summer of 2012 his group was planning to redevelop the hotel. No such development has taken place.
In a related action, Vicksburg Hotel LLC has asked U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to order removal of a lis pendens Avondale filed on the hotel property in October. A trial date has been set in that matter for Feb. 17, 2015.