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Mob Experience owner can’t hold lien on own property, judge rules

A Clark County District Court judge cited a 411-year-old case from British legal history in rejecting the former head of the Las Vegas Mob Experience’s attempt to claim ownership of the exhibit’s artifacts recently. The judge ruled that the business owner was attempting to be both owner and creditor of the items, which was disallowed by the 1601 judicial decision.

As we discussed in our Oct. 8 blog post, the Las Vegas Mob Experience’s parent company declared bankruptcy within a year of opening at the Tropicana resort-casino in 2011. After the Mob Experience’s bankruptcy, the exhibit’s space and display items were taken over by a new group and reopened as the Mob Attraction.

The artifacts include guns, photographs, letters and other memorabilia purportedly connected to organized crime. The Mob Experience’s developer says he collected them from the original owners’ families and other collectors through one of his companies and leased them to another of his companies. That second company, Murder Inc., controlled the Mob Experience but later declared bankruptcy.

To raise money for the exhibit, the company borrowed $5.3 million from creditors and used the artifacts as collateral. After Murder Inc. defaulted on the loans, the creditors foreclosed on the items and currently display them at the Mob Attraction.

The owner of Murder Inc. went to court over ownership of the artifacts. He claimed that he had the first right to foreclose due to $8 million in debt backed by the items that he acquired from other Mob Experience investors. But the judge rejected the claim. Citing U.S. cases that led back to the 1601 decision, he said that the man could not hold a lien on property he already owns. Therefore, the Mob Attraction owners have the sole foreclosure claim on the items.

Readers may wonder why the judge used case law that dates to before the founding of the U.S. in his ruling. American law is based on British common law, a system of judicial law that developed in that country over time. Cases like the 1601 ruling form much of the basis of our civil and criminal laws.

Source: VEGAS INC, “Mob Experience developer’s artifact claims rejected,” Steve Green, Oct. 26, 2012

· Our law firm handles a range of legal matters for businesses in Nevada. For more information, please visit our Nevada business litigation page.

John P. Aldrich
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