Property battle on the Horizon: Casino, land owner swap lawsuits
November 30, 2005
Citing health and safety issues, the owner of land underneath the Horizon Casino Resort in Stateline filed a lawsuit in Douglas County District Court on Tuesday asking for an eviction.
The suit was in response to a pre-emptive lawsuit filed earlier this month by Horizon owner Wimar Tahoe Corp. That challenge, filed Nov. 8, alleges the property owner, Park Cattle Co., harassed the casino owners by demanding unnecessary repairs relative to their shared lease.
In papers filed Tuesday, Park countered with a legal challenge of its own, saying the casino owners breached their lease because of what it called faulty maintenance at the 539-room resort located next to Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
The latest cross complaint is 70 pages long, and details alleged deficiencies from water damage and mold growth to inadequate emergency lighting and a deteriorated roof.
Using 26 claims of relief, Park Cattle Co. attorney Steve Meyer said the Stateline-based property holder seeks at least $20 million to repair the premises. Park, which homesteaded land in the Carson Valley in 1871, also holds leases with Harveys Resort Casino and Caesars Tahoe, which is owned by Columbia Sussex. Wimar Tahoe Corp. is an affiliate of Columbia Sussex.
The Horizon-Park Cattle’s 90-year lease dates back to 1962, when Horizon operated as Sahara-Tahoe. Wimar’s lease began in 1990 with an agreement it would maintain the hotel.
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“We’re not saying the building is going down, but the problems (with the property) go to the bones of the building,” Meyer said, adding the Park company fears liability issues.
The company conducted an inspection last March in which “severe cracks” were found in the structure, Meyer said.
Joe Yung, a company executive and son of Columbia Sussex chairman William Yung, said the counter suit has “absolutely zero” basis of merit against his affiliate Wimar. But his company’s complaint was filed “to bring to a conclusion with Park Cattle Co. allegations that we’re not bringing the building up to standard.”
Yung declined to comment further except to point to the Park family’s own turbulent relationship with its former president, Bruce Park. In his Oct. 5 complaint, Park claims he was wrongfully ousted and wants to place the company into receivership and liquidate its assets.
The complaint filed by Wimar Nov. 8 seeks a restraining order to prevent Park from terminating a 1990 lease agreement. The Columbia Sussex company received a dozen letters between March and August claiming the physical condition of the building constituted default of the lease. One letter suggested that it would be better to demolish the casino and garage rather than allow them to continue.
Tahoe Douglas Fire Marshall Rick Nicholson said he conducted his own inspection of the property in March and concluded he found “run-of-the-mill stuff – but nothing that would make the building unsafe.”
Nicholson pointed to sloppy spray painting over sprinkler heads, outdated stove hoods in the kitchen and too much debris in storage areas.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board performs inspections of casino surveillance systems but not structural evaluations.
This challenge appears to not have any effect on the Columbia Sussex buyout of Caesars Tahoe in June, as regulatory agencies required Park Cattle Company’s approval before the transaction took place.
– Record-Courier editor Kurt Hildebrand contributed to this report.