Casino suit halted by judge

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A federal judge has halted a lawsuit that pitted warring factions of former and would-be principals of the defunct Grand Station Casino and Hotel against one another.

Documents filed in federal court in Jackson last week show U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee issued a stay in an action filed in January by AGT Capital LLC against M Street Investments Inc., which had once tried to buy the vessel that ended up being auctioned for scrap nearly a year ago.

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 on Mulberry Street as part of bankruptcy proceedings. All three entities are based in Texas. Among the 10 defendants in the case is Great Southern Investment Group Inc., which had owned the 117-room hotel adjacent to the casino.

Lee agreed with co-defendants Niki Weiss, mentioned in AGT’s suit as a co-founder of NIT Management, another defendant in the case, and Sandra Bailey, mentioned with Weiss and others as being instrumental in M Street’s attempt to purchase the casino to save it from bankruptcy in 2011, that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over them because neither were as involved in the venture’s business dealings as the plaintiffs alleged them to be.

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. Defendants M Street, Great Southern, NIT, Weiss, Bailey and fellow defendants Donald A. Bailey, Brett Maverick Venture Fund LP and Ronald K. Lewis argued the claims were without merit, saying Alexandra didn’t hold stock in M Street, Great Southern or NIT.

A deal struck last August 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. This month, the firm took out lines of credit to finance the purchase; it wasn’t clear whether Judge Lee’s order to stay the case would prompt the payments spelled out in the bankruptcy agreement to begin.

In a related case, the prospective new owners of the hotel have 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.