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Casino Queen Execs Can’t Sink Workers’ ESOP Suit


March 7, 2023

An Illinois federal judge refused to free two Casino Queen founders and a former president from a lawsuit by workers alleging the executives siphoned millions from the workers’ retirement savings to buy stock in the company’s holding firm, saying he needs more information before making any decisions.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge David W. Dugan denied founders Charles Bidwell III and Timothy J. Rand’s motion to dismiss the proposed class action by employee stock ownership plan participants Tom Hensiek, Jason Gill and Lillian Wrobel. The judge also rejected former president James G. Koman’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit.

The Casino Queen workers said they didn’t learn of the executives’ 2012 transaction, in which the workers say the ESOP overpaid for the newly formed casino holding company’s stock in a $170 million purchase, until 2019 because they were provided false information regarding the deal and the holding company’s stock prices.

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”We are very pleased that the court has denied — yet again — dispositive motions filed by defendants,” Michelle C. Yau, who represents the ESOP participants, told Law360 in a statement. “My clients look forward to trial where they get a chance to prove their claims after years of delay by defendants.”

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The casino employees are represented by Colleen R. Smith, John Stokes, Peter K. Stris, Rachana Pathak, Shaun Martin and Victor O’Connell of Stris & Maher LLP and Ryan Wheeler and Michelle C. Yau of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

Read on Law360.