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    Sunday, October 02, 2022

    Mohegan Sun withdraws lawsuit against NHL team owner

    Mohegan Sun has withdrawn a lawsuit against an National Hockey League team owner it claimed failed to pay a $900,000 gambling debt.

    The withdrawal, filed Friday in New London Superior Court, provides no information about the terms of any settlement the casino may have reached with Eugene Melnyk, the Canadian billionaire who owns the Ottawa Senators.

    Asked if Mohegan Sun recovered the debt it claimed Melnyk incurred in 2017, Houston Lowry, an attorney for the casino, said his client had instructed him not to comment on the suit.

    Attorneys for Melnyk did not respond to messages seeking comment.

    Mohegan Sun filed the suit in July 2019. A filing six months later indicated the parties had tentatively resolved the issue.

    In the suit, Mohegan Sun claimed Melnyk issued five bank drafts in exchange for credit while gambling at the casino and that the Toronto bank on which the drafts were drawn subsequently refused to honor them. Four of the drafts were for $200,000 apiece and the other was for $100,000.

    The first draft was issued on March 17, 2017. The others were issued on March 19, 2017, the last three of them in the hour before midnight, according to the suit.

    Mohegan Sun also claimed that at as Sept. 16, 2019, Melnyk’s unpaid debt also included nearly $180,000 in bank fees and interest and that the interest would accrue thereafter at the rate of nearly $200 a day.

    In a response to the suit, Melnyk’s attorney, Jonathan Katz, indicated his client could present several “bona fide” defenses, including a claim that the casino waited for more than five months to present the drafts for payment, causing the drafts to become “stale” and that the “questionable appearance” of some signatures on the drafts contributed to the bank’s refusal to honor them.

    Katz also suggested Melnyk could argue that Mohegan Sun generated one or more of the drafts through “bad faith conduct,” refusing to allow Melnyk to cash out his chips while he was winning significant amounts of money and inducing him to continue gambling, causing him to incur substantial losses.

    Mohegan Sun attorneys turned to handwriting expert James Streeter of Groton to authenticate Melnyk’s signatures on the drafts by comparing them to Melnyk’s signatures on other drafts and in photocopies of Canadian passports, a casino credit application and another document.

    Streeter concluded it was highly likely Melnyk signed the drafts issued to Mohegan Sun.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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