Casino, Contractors Agree to Arbitration in Three-Year Lawsuit

Tue May 27, 2003 - National Edition

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) Hollywood Casino and its main contractor have agreed to binding arbitration in a three-year fight over whether slow work or a tornado kept the Shreveport casino from opening on time.

Arbitration should begin in late summer, said Jim Renard of Dallas, attorney for Hollywood Casino Corp. He said Broadmoor/Roy Anderson Corp. agreed to arbitration both with Hollywood and Ohio-based Cleveland Construction Co., a major subcontractor.

The agreement of Hollywood, its general contractor and one major subcontractor to handle their numerous disputes in a private process could end the protracted battle within the year and pay local subcontractors who claim they were shorted millions.

“That’ll be a happy day,” said Bob Fitzgerald, chief financial officer and general counsel for Fitzgerald-Gallo, a joint construction venture involving Shreveport’s Fitzgerald Contractors Inc. Fitzgerald-Gallo has been waiting three years for nearly $500,000 for work completed on the casino hotel.

The grand opening was Dec. 20, 2000.

Hollywood has not dismissed a related $17 million claim in federal court against construction insurers

Lexington Insurance Co. and New Hampshire Insurance Co., said Jim Renard of Dallas, attorney for

Hollywood Casino Corp. The trial was set to begin May 27.

Hollywood also is a party in other lawsuits filed in Caddo Parish District Court that are slated to go to trial this fall.

Small local contractors who say they still haven’t been paid continue to struggle. Fire Tech Systems of Shreveport claims it is owed more than $68,000 for the sprinkler systems it installed. The company was forced to lay off 10 people in 2002 to make up for the shortfall.

The disputes began in spring of 2000 when, during a critical construction phase of Hollywood Casino, a tornado struck the site, delaying a project that was already falling behind schedule.

According to documents filed in federal court, Hollywood filed suit against general contractor Broadmoor/Roy Anderson Corp., for its failure to complete the work on time for its projected opening in October 2000.

Broadmoor/Roy Anderson filed suit against subcontractor Cleveland Construction for alleged unsatisfactory work and work not completed on deadline.

Cleveland countersued both parties and filed a $6-million lien on the property, saying that the reason it couldn’t complete the work on time was because of the tornado damage it bore the expense of repairing.