ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Donald Trump has a message for the two Atlantic City casinos that still bear his name, five years after he gave up anything to do with running them: You’re fired.
The real estate mogul and reality TV star, who presided over a casino empire in the glory days of Atlantic City, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday demanding that his name be stripped from the remaining two.
He told The Associated Press he sued Trump Entertainment Resorts, a descendant of a corporate entity he once controlled, because it has allowed its two Atlantic City casinos, the Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal, to fall into disrepair, tarnishing his personal brand and confusing customers.
“I want it off both of them,” Trump said in an interview Tuesday evening. “I’ve been away from Atlantic City for many years. People think we operate (the company), and we don’t. It’s not us. It’s not me.”
It was the latest manifestation of Atlantic City’s struggles: One casino closed in January, two others are slated to do so by next month and another is up for a bankruptcy auction on Thursday and will shut down if a buyer doesn’t materialize.
Trump’s lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in Atlantic County, seeks a court order directing Trump Entertainment Resorts to immediately cure what it terms a breach of Trump’s licensing agreement with the company or remove his name from the casinos and the company itself.
“Since Mr. Trump left Atlantic City many years ago, the license entities have allowed the casino properties to fall into an utter state of disrepair and have otherwise failed to operate and manage the casino properties in accordance with the high standards of quality and luxury required under the license agreement,” Trump wrote in his lawsuit, filed in the name of Trump AC Casino Marks LLC. “The Trump name … has become synonymous with the highest levels of quality, luxury, prestige and success.”
Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Robert Griffin declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Trump appears particularly vexed at the impending closing of Trump Plaza on Sept. 16.
In the lawsuit, he asserts Trump Plaza failed two quality review tests carried out by a third-party consulting firm, one in 2012 and the other three weeks ago. Days later, Trump asserts, the company sent letters to its employees and announced it would close Trump Plaza in September without notifying him.
“Not only does the issuance of these WARN notices further harm the Trump name and brand, but it also underscores the (company’s) inability to remedy the appalling conditions that gave rise to the defaults under the licensing agreement in the first place,” the lawsuit says.
Trump said the casinos fail to meet industry standards regarding hotel services, food and beverage operations and overall cleanliness, which he said guests had been complaining about for years.
Trump does not run or control Trump Entertainment Resorts, which was formed after the Trump casino empire emerged from the second of its three bankruptcies. But he retains a 10 percent stake, which enables the company to use his name for licensing purposes.
Trump told the AP he has not considered whether to divest his remaining ownership stake in the company.
The Trump Organization released the following statement to Eyewitness News Tuesday night:
On August 5, 2014, Trump AC Casino Marks, LLC (“Trump”), an entity owned and controlled by Donald J. Trump, filed an action in the Superior Court of New Jersey to terminate its license agreement with Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. (“TER”) and remove the “Trump” name and brand from the Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal casino hotels in Atlantic City. Mr. Trump has not been involved in the operation and management of these properties for many years but allowed the casinos to continue to use his name under a license arrangement. There is tremendous confusion of Trump owned and managed properties versus the properties in Atlantic City which are not owned or managed by Mr. Trump. In fact, Mr. Trump has not been to Atlantic City in many years. In both 2012 and 2014 Trump Plaza failed several quality control tests and performance reviews conducted by the independent third party firm that was predetermined in the license agreement.
“I’d love nothing more for the current managers and owners of these hotel casinos to operate them to the highest standards of luxury and success, but unfortunately that is not happening. Therefore, because of the constant default of the standards stipulated in the license agreement, we have no choice but to terminate — I am not involved and have nothing to do with the Atlantic City casinos,” stated Donald J. Trump.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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