Hard Rock case heads back to settlement table
The owners and builder of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will make another effort at a settlement after a hearing Wednesday.
A settlement conference was scheduled for Nov. 16 with Senior Judge Brent Adams in an effort to find common ground between Neva One, owned by the Park brothers, and SMC Construction Co.
SMC Corp. filed a lien against Neva One May 4, claiming it was owed $9.6 million for work done on the casino.
Neva One owners Jon and David Park were in court on Wednesday morning as SMC’s Hard Rock Project Manager Joe Stewart testified.
“I recognize that this was attempted once before by a different judge,” District Judge Tod Young said Wednesday. “That didn’t go that far. I’m not putting this hearing off for months.”
Young set a Dec. 18 date to hear motions if the attempt at a settlement failed.
“I’m hopeful there will be a resolution to this case,” Young said.
Stewart was the only witness to take the stand on Wednesday, continuing testimony that began June 3.
At issue are the last two months of construction on the Hard Rock, in which SMC was pressed to complete the project by the Jan. 28 opening date.
Stewart testified that during a Dec. 31 conference call, he was told to work 24-7 to get the work done.
Three change orders from November, December and January increased the price of the work from $9.6 million to $14.8 million, according to Stewart.
Testimony on Wednesday picked up where the case left off in June, when both sides tried to come to a settlement out of court.
That attempt wasn’t successful, and the hearing began again on Wednesday.
According to Stewart, the change order signed by Jon Park raised the casino to $12.46 million at the end of December.
The rest of the increase occurred during January, when subcontractors working triple shifts were able to get the casino portion of the hotel completed.
The day after the casino opened on Jan. 29, an email from a Neva One representative indicated that SMC would not be paid in full for that change order, disputing the bill.
Under cross-examination, Stewart conceded that SMC had been paid more than the undisputed portion of the change order.
“So the statement that ‘SMC had not been paid all the money is false?’” Park attorney Brad Johnson asked.
“The word ‘all’ is false,” Stewart testified.
Johnson asked whether SMC deliberately misled the court about the payment.
Stewart said that it was a mistake.
While the payment was discussed during a hearing last spring, no revised information has been filed with the court.
Stewart said that one of the subcontractors listed in that change order had a wage dispute with Neva One.
SMC attorney Michael Springer asked Stewart whether that contractor had been paid in previous bills, and Stewart said they had.
The Parks’ Neva One is suing the company it had manage the construction and operation of the Hard Rock in Reno District Court.