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October 22, 2009
Curtis Earns Major Victory on Behalf of Chapter 11 Debtor President Casinos
New York, October 22, 2009 – A Curtis litigation team led by partners Joseph D. Pizzurro and Nancy E. Delaney, together with associates Priya Swaminathan and John Balzano, and with the assistance of Restructuring and Insolvency partners Steven J. Reisman and Lynn P. Harrison 3rd, won a substantial victory on behalf of President Casinos, Inc. in prosecuting breach of contract and tort claims in the United States District Court in St. Louis, successfully appealing from the judgment previously entered against it in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The District Court's ruling in President Casinos v. Columbia Sussex Corp. reversed the previous ruling of the Bankruptcy Court and entered summary judgment in favor of President Casinos, awarding over $28 million in damages and approximately $13.5 million in pre-judgment interest. The District Court also remanded the matter to the Bankruptcy Court for a determination as to whether the interest portion of the judgment should be reduced.
President Casinos previously filed its action for damages for breach of contract and prima facie tort regarding the failed sale of its St. Louis river boat casino operation to Columbia Sussex in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. After submitting the highest bid to purchase the casino and undergoing the rigorous application process for a gaming license, Columbia Sussex withdrew its gaming license application before a decision was made by the gaming authority and terminated its sale contract with President Casinos giving, as the reason, that it did not believe it would receive the gaming license. President Casinos sued for breach of contract and also asserted tort claims against Columbia Sussex for raising parking rates 560% for the casino patrons in retaliation for President Casinos' institution of the lawsuit. The Bankruptcy Court entered summary judgment in favor of Columbia Sussex on the contract claim and in favor of President Casinos on the tort claim.
On September 25, 2009, the Honorable Henry E. Autrey, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri, reversed the Bankruptcy Court and entered summary judgment in favor of President Casinos on its breach of contract claim. Judge Autrey concluded that Columbia Sussex could not rely on its withdrawal of its license application to excuse its obligation to buy the casino and thus was in breach of contract. Judge Autrey awarded President Casinos over $42 million in contractual damages and interest for Columbia Sussex's breach. He also affirmed the Bankruptcy Court's ruling in favor of President Casinos on the prima face tort claim.
Curtis has, over the past several years, substantially expanded it bankruptcy litigation practice achieving successful results for its clients.
Curtis took over the case from prior counsel to address the appeal from the Bankruptcy Court.