Protest planned at casino in pay flap

A Slidell construction company plans to picket near L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge on Saturday morning to spotlight its claims in a lawsuit that it hasn’t been paid for work done on the resort.

Workers will be near the railroad tracks at Nicholson Drive and Gardere Lane, according to Steve Dunn, a construction manager for Kostmayer Construction of Slidell.

“We don’t want this to die on the vine,” Dunn said. “We want to let the public know what is going on with this big, beautiful facility they are painting.”

“We are working diligently to close out this project with our general contractor, Manhattan Construction, including related contractual issues,” said Kerry Anderson, a spokeswoman for Pinnacle, in a statement, “Until that process is complete, we have no further comment.”

Officials with Manhattan, of Tulsa, Okla., did not return phone calls Thursday.

Kostmayer filed a lawsuit in 19th Judicial District Court earlier this month against Pinnacle Entertainment, which owns the casino, and the project’s general contractor, Manhattan Construction Co.

Kostmayer said it is owed $2.3 million for installing pipe piles and mooring for the gambling barge at the casino resort.

Kostmayer is one of several firms that have filed liens or lawsuits against the casino property, saying they haven’t been paid for work they performed. Postel Industries has the largest lien, for $2.6 million.

Dunn said all of Kostmayer’s work has been accepted by Pinnacle and Manhattan, but Kostmayer still hasn’t been paid for everything it did.

“They’re saying on some of the invoicing, we need to give them backup,” he said. “But we need this money for operating capital.”

According to the terms of the contract, when Manhattan gets paid by Pinnacle, it is supposed to pay subcontractors, Dunn said.

L’Auberge’s $368 million entertainment complex opened Sept. 1.

The property includes a 74,000-square-foot casino, a 12-story hotel with 205 guest rooms and parking for 2,400 vehicles.

Dunn said Kostmayer has protested against companies that owed it money and it has led to quick payments. But the idea of having to sue a client is something new.

“We’ve never had to do this before, but they need to pay us,” he said.