Court orders Fond du Lac band to pay Duluth $10.4M in unpaid rent

By KBJR News 1

Court orders Fond du Lac band to pay Duluth $10.4M in unpaid rent

October 8, 2013 Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 9:14 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Duluth city leaders declared a major victory Tuesday after the US District Court ordered the Fond du Lac Band to pay the city $10.4 million in unpaid rent.

The order stems from a lawsuit surrounding the Fond du Luth Casino in downtown Duluth.

The chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band, Karen Diver, responded Tuesday saying the city overestimated the amount during a news conference.

City leaders stated the amount was $12 million.

According to court documents, the dollar amount is a little less than $10.4 million

The $10.4 million is from unpaid back rent for the casino over a two-year period, from 2009 to 2011.

The court recognized that the Band had paid about $75 million to the city under previous agreements in the 1990s. Since the band stopped payments in 2009, the city says it has profited more than $20 million from the Fond du Luth Casino while receiving city services for free.

Mayor Don Ness said Tuesday legal victory is a very clear indication that the city has been on the right path and that protecting the city's rights under this contract was the right thing to do.

"I remain confident that a compromise is possible that is in the best interest of the member of our communities and the longstanding relationship between the city of Duluth and the Fond du Lac band,” Ness said.

Diver said the ruling was not unexpected.

"The Band will be reviewing the ruling with its legal counsel to determine our next course of action," Diver added.

Meanwhile, there's another step in this case to be decided by the courts, related to what's called contra-revenue for casino marketing costs.

A trial needs to be set to determine whether the band will need to pay additionally for the contra-revenue. It could be up to $585,000.

Jennifer Walch
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