Millions in Liens Filed Against Louisiana Casino

March 5, 2013

Roughly three dozen companies have filed millions of dollars in liens against a Baton Rouge casino that opened in September.

The liens on record in the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office involve disputes between Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. and its contractors, The Advocate reported.

Pinnacle is the parent company of the L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge.

Companies that have filed liens include general contractor Manhattan Construction Co.

Four companies have sued Pinnacle, Manhattan or both in 19th Judicial District Court over the past three months.

Wilhite Electric Co. Inc., of Bossier City, has sued both for a total of $8.5 million. The lawsuit alleges that it has been paid $19.1 million but did $27.6 million worth of work.

Pinnacle’s 2012 annual report showed the company has spent $352.6 million on the Baton Rouge entertainment complex.

Timothy Wilhite, Wilhite Electric’s general counsel and chief financial officer, said the family-owned company and its subcontractors finished their work months ago, but no one from Manhattan or Pinnacle will return phone calls.

“I am not happy,” Wilhite said.

While the total of the liens filed in the disputes between Pinnacle and contractors appears to be about $70 million, Wilhite noted that the actual amount involved may be much lower if contractors and their subcontractors’ filings overlapped.

In an email, Manhattan spokeswoman Natalie Pagano said although the casino and hotel were completed last year, unresolved issues remain over the costs of extra work and payments.

Manhattan has paid subcontractors all the money that Pinnacle provided for their work, Pagano said. Manhattan is working with all parties, in court and out, to resolve the disputes, she said.

Julie Collins, a spokeswoman for Pinnacle, said the company has a corporate policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

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