Arundel Mills casino foes seek to intervene in Cordish lawsuit

March 17, 2010|By Nicole Fuller |

Opponents of a casino at Arundel Mills mall who are on track to force a referendum filed court papers Tuesday to intervene in a lawsuit by the Cordish Cos., which contends that the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections ignored alleged fraud in the referendum effort.

Attorneys representing Stop Slots at the Mall, the coalition that led the referendum effort, filed the motion to intervene in the suit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, with the intent to seek a dismissal, said Alan Rifkin, the lead attorney for the coalition.

The coalition also filed a motion contending that PPE Casino Resorts Maryland LLC, the parent company of Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., violated a state statute that "prohibits meritless suits brought by large private interests, often real estate developers, to deter ordinary citizens from exercising their political or legal rights," according to Rifkin. In addition, FieldWorks, the company hired and paid by the Maryland Jockey Club to collect signatures, has filed a separate motion to intervene.

Because Cordish didn't sue the coalition or FieldWorks, they must intervene to be parties to the suit.

"If permitted to intervene, we will disclose PPE's claims as meritless," Rifkin said. "PPE's attempt to prevent the very people that it asserts violated the election laws from intervening and proving the meritless nature of PPE's entire lawsuit is reflective of their desire to prevent the will of the citizens of Anne Arundel County from being heard."

Joseph Weinberg, a vice president at Cordish, said the "allegations are completely meritless."

"PPE filed suit against the Board of Elections," said Weinberg. "The suit speaks for itself. No citizens group is named in PPE's lawsuit, therefore it is absurd for them to claim they have been sued."

Cordish filed suit last month against the Board of Elections, contending that it overlooked fraud in the referendum effort. The election board has validated more than 22,000 signatures, in excess of the 18,790 signatures required for a ballot referendum in November. The board has until March 25 to certify the signatures.

Steve Rabinowitz, a spokesman for FieldWorks, said gathering signatures for the petition drive "was conducted not only in full compliance with all legal requirements, but in accordance with the highest standards of quality and integrity, the high standards for which FieldWorks is known."

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