Argosy class action suits settle

Steve Korris Jul. 14, 2006, 1:17am

Former Argosy Casino owners who sued in Madison County Circuit Court over the value of their stock have settled their claims.

Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron signed a settlement order in April, though the order did not reach Circuit Clerk Matt Melucci until June 30.

The order awarded $675,000 in attorney fees and expenses.

John Carey of Clayton filed two suits against Argosy Gaming Company in 2004, one for Judi Ann Ringhofer and one for Lemon Bay Partners.

Carey claimed Argosy merged with Penn National Gaming at $47 a share without seeking a better offer.

Carey moved to certify Ringhofer and Lemon Bay Partners as representatives of plaintiff classes.

His complaint relied not on Illinois law but on California civil code.

The parties announced this January that they had reached an agreement.

On April 7 Byron signed a settlement order in which plaintiffs waived and relinquished all claims under California civil code.

Both sides pledged to prevent the entry of an order in any other court in favor of any class member.

Defense attorney Sandra Smith of Radnor, Pa., thought the order closed the books, but she received notice of a status conference set for June 28.

Smith sent a letter to Melucci, explaining that both cases should be dismissed and the status conference should be taken off the court calendar.

Ringhofer's class action suit filed Nov. 24, 2004, named the following defendants: Argosy chairman William F. Cellini, Richard J. Glasier, George L. Bristol, Jimmy F. Gallagher, James B. Perry, F. Lance Callis, John B. Pratt, Sr., Edward F. Brennan and Michael W. Scott.

In 2004, a financial report showed that Argosy's earnings had risen substantially over the previous year. Earnings per share were 71 cents, up from 56 cents in 2003. Argosy's net income also rose from $38.1 million during the third quarter of 2003 to $43.7 million in the same reporting period in 2004.

A report in the St. Louis Business Journal in 2004 stated that Callis, one of the defendants and a Granite City lawyer, stood to collect nearly $41 million by selling his 3 percent ownership of the company. He also is the father of Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis.

The report noted that Lance Callis held 870,553 shares of Argosy stock, according to the company's proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2004.

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