oastal Marina LLC, a New York company owned by a former protege of Donald Trump, claims the company allowed the property to fall into disrepair and diverted customers to other Trump casinos.
The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden, alleges fraud, and claims the casino needs at least us$ 50 million in repairs. It claims things got so bad that, rather than fix leaky windows and skylights, the casino put plants underneath them to catch the drips. The suit seeks the return of us$ 17 million in deposits Coastal made toward the purchase, and unspecified additional damages.
Neither Donald Trump nor officials at Trump Entertainment Resorts immediately returned calls seeking comment Wednesday morning. It was not immediately clear whether the lawsuit would delay a decision on who will gain control of Trump Entertainment, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February.
The company is considering two plans: one by Trump, and another by bondholders. Monday is the deadline for the company to choose one.
In its lawsuit, Coastal claims Trump Entertainment deliberately hid its financial condition to try to salvage a deal that was struck in May 2008, when Coastal agreed to buy the casino for us$ 316 million. The price was reduced to us$ 270 million several months later. Coastal intended to partner with singer Jimmy Buffett to rebrand the struggling casino as "Margaritaville."
But the lawsuit alleges that, "unbeknownst to the Coastal parties, the defendants intended to strip the casino of its valuable customers and key personnel, destroy its image with its potential and current patrons, and let the casino fall into a complete state of disrepair such that no lender would ever finance its purchase."
The suit alleges Trump Entertainment agreed to perform repairs including replacing ventilation equipment throughout the casino to improve air flow, upgrading fire alarm systems, repairing the building's roof and parking garage, as well as repairing the bulkhead at the Senator Frank S. Farley State Marina, whose lease was included in the deal.
Coastal claims Trump Entertainment has done little, if any of the promised work. Instead, according to the lawsuit, it has neglected problems including windows leaking throughout the casino; inoperable air conditioning units that left some rooms hot and unrentable; wind and weather damage at the building's Crystal Tower, and kitchen equipment that has been removed and not replaced.
"Indeed, rather than repair the roof and skylights, Trump Marina resorted to using drip pans and placing plants underneath the leaks," the lawsuit read. Coastal is headed by Richard Fields, who once was a real-life apprentice of Donald Trump long before the reality TV show of the same name.
The two had a falling out when Trump accused Fields of secretly cutting him out of a deal to develop a casino with the Seminole Indian tribe in Florida. A settlement of that litigation was to have been part of the Trump Marina sale deal, but now it lives on.
Coastal developed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino properties in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida, and is the largest shareholder of the Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston.