Owner of Atlantic City's Taj Mahal casino resisting Donald Trump's bid to remove his name

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ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — A casino company that agreed to Donald Trump's demand to remove his name from its now-closed Trump Plaza is refusing to strip the name from its lone remaining casino, the struggling Trump Taj Mahal.

The real estate mogul and his daughter Ivanka Trump are suing Trump Entertainment Resorts, which he once ran, in state Superior Court, demanding that the Trump name come off the Taj Mahal as well. They say the Atlantic City company, with which they no longer are involved, allowed the casinos to fall into disrepair, which damages their brand.

Ivanka Trump said on Monday that she and her father "vehemently disagree" with Trump Entertainment's stance regarding use of the Trump name and the claims the company makes in its response to their lawsuit.

"The company has been in default of the standards for both the Plaza and at the Taj as well," she said. "They had a similar benchmark, and they did not live up to the standards we agreed to. Both the standards were not met."

Trump Entertainment complied with their demand to take the name off the Trump Plaza, which closed on Sept. 16. But in a legal filing to federal bankruptcy court in Delaware on Thursday, the company draws the line at the de-Trumpification of the Trump Taj Mahal, calling it "baseless and value-destructive" litigation.

"The debtors face many challenges, and the last thing these chapter 11 cases can afford is the significant expense, distraction and uncertainty of state court litigation over whether the debtors can preserve the very name under which they do business," the company wrote.

The company on Friday got a bankruptcy judge to scrap its union contract, and it is seeking $175 million in state and local government assistance to help it stay afloat. That aid must be in place before billionaire Carl Icahn would proceed with a plan to acquire the Taj Mahal and invest $100 million into it. Otherwise, it may close the casino on Nov. 13.

Trump Entertainment hired a contractor to begin removing the Trump name and logos from the exterior of Trump Plaza on Oct. 6, and the last glitzy red T should be gone by Oct. 31, it said in its filing.

The Trumps, in their lawsuit, say they hired a quality control expert to evaluate the Plaza and the Taj Mahal, giving them failing grades, which would invalidate a licensing agreement the company had to use the Trump name on its properties.

But Trump Entertainment Resorts said that the quality control expert never gave the Taj Mahal a failing grade and that Donald Trump and his daughter do "not present a shred of evidence that (they have) suffered any monetary or other actual harm as a result of TER's alleged conduct."

The company said the Trumps initially tried to terminate the licensing agreement in October 2013 based "on nothing more than bits of cherry-picked reviews anonymously posted on the TripAdvisor web site" and "incomplete and vague excerpts" from a 2012 report. It said most of the problems cited in the 2012 report were fixed by March 2014.

It also said it met with representatives of the Trumps last November to lay out a Taj Mahal improvement plan it began implementing with their knowledge and encouragement.


Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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