Casino projects in Lansing and Romulus are the point of disagreement between the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and their former development partners, JLLJ Development and Lansing Future Development II. 

The tribe’s gaming board, Kewadin Casinos Gaming Authority, is required to pay $25 million by April 12th to the companies. 

The conflict with development companies and law firm:

Additionally, the authority is required to pay up to $10 million to their former law firm, Patterson, Earnhart, Real Bird & Wilson LLP, because of malpractice claims against them. If the suit against them proves unsuccessful, Kewadin will be obligated to pay an additional $5 million to the law company.

Joyce Draganchuk, the Ingham County Circuit Judge, has issued an $88.8 million settlement to the development companies, and it is related to the casinos that have never been built in Lansing and Huron Township, close to the Detroit Metro Airport.

The tribe got a temporary restraining order from the companies. They claim the tribe protected itself from financial liabilities that could be issued by the court. However, the tribe’s lawyers deny the claims, saying that there’s nothing illegal done to hide the tribe’s assets.

Aaron Schlehuber, General Counsel at the Kewadin Casinos, said that there is also the appeal process that could take a long time to process.

He added: “This agreement allows Kewadin to move forward and now focus 100% of its efforts on providing the best entertainment services possible to the areas we serve. Casino revenues contribute significantly toward the services the Sault Tribe provides to its members, including health care and cultural programs, so this settlement ensures that the casino will continue to have the resources to maximize our operations and continue serving the community.”   

The law company worked with a tribe from June 2020, and as Kewadin states, they failed to defend the tribe properly, which resulted in such a verdict.

Schlehuber said: “The default judgment caused by the Patterson firm has severely impacted the reputation of both Kewadin Casinos and Sault Tribe, and it’s important that they are held into account for the $88 million in damages against us.”

Huge plans without realization:

The Sault Tribe had to pay the development companies, despite the fact that the casinos had never been actually built. The plans for casinos were projected for 125,000 square foot property, in which was supposed to be invested the amount of about $245 million

However, the federal government hasn’t allowed the tribe to take the land into trust, and without that, the off-reservation ventures were impossible. The judge also supported that decision.

In total, the amount of money collected in the name of building the casinos was huge: there was $9 million in loans collected from developers, as well as interest and loss of potential future profits. The total amount for the casino near the airport was about $60 million, and for the Lansing casino, the amount was $28.8 million.