Dismissal of Iowa casino lawsuit ends long legal battle – Houston Chronicle

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Years of litigation has ended with the dismissal of an Iowa lawsuit involving the former owner of the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino and its nonprofit partner.

The Missouri River Historical Development and the Belle of Sioux City, along with its parent company, Penn National Gaming Inc., have filed a joint dismissal of a lawsuit and counter lawsuit in Des Moines, The Sioux City Journal reported. Each side will pay for their own legal expenses.

Belle, which operated the Argosy, sued MRHD for breach of contract in 2012. MRHD is a state-licensed nonprofit gaming group that held Woodbury County’s gambling license with Belle.

Belle alleged that MRHD sought to replace the Argosy with another operator before their 20-year contract expired.

MRHD denied the claims and countersued, alleging Penn interfered with MRHD’s prospective relationships with other potential operators by sending letters threatening legal action against them. Penn’s actions prevented or delayed it from negotiating a more lucrative land-based casino agreement, MRHD alleged.

The lawsuits had been scheduled to go to trial next month. But a ruling in May found two issues with Belle’s lawsuit and the MRHD’s counter lawsuit.

District Judge David May ruled that MRHD had the right to search for a new casino operator prior to the expiration of its agreement with Belle to have a new deal in place once the contract with Belle expired. He found that MRHD wasn’t in breach of contract, effectively dismissing Belle and Penn’s allegations that they had the exclusive rights to negotiate a new agreement with MRHD.

The judge also dismissed MRHD’s counterclaim after ruling that the letters sent to those potential operators by Penn weren’t improper and didn’t constitute interference.

Belle and Penn’s attorney, Mark Weinhardt, couldn’t be reached by the newspaper for comment.

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