DES MOINES | Lawyers for the Iowa Attorney General's Office have asked a state judge to quash a subpoena from Penn National Gaming Co. involving its lawsuit against Missouri River Historical Development.
The subpoena requests documents from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation related to the recent application process for a land casino in Woodbury County.
In April, the commission awarded the license to the developer of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City and MRHD, its nonprofit partner. The Hard Rock is scheduled to replace Penn's Argosy Sioux City floating casino next summer.
Penn, which proposed a Hollywood-themed casino in downtown Sioux City or a rural site, was one of two other operators to apply for the license. The other was a group led by Ho-Chunk Inc.
In September, Penn filed a breach of contract lawsuit against MRHD, claiming the contract language gave Penn exclusive negotiating rights.
In a motion filed Monday in Polk County District Court, lawyers for the attorney general's office argued that all the IRGC documents requested by Penn postdate the expiration last July of its operating agreement with MRHD, making the materials "irrelevant to any issue in this matter" and "exceeding the allowable scope of discovery."
"In fact, it appears the subpoena is nothing more than an improper attempt at cross-discovery in matters not relating to this claim," the state said in its motion.
Penn also has gone to court to try to overturn the IRGC's decision awarding the land license to the Hard Rock group. At its meeting earlier this month, the five-member commission declined to act on Penn's formal request to reconsider its vote.
In the MRHD suit, Penn also subpoenaed documents related to the state Division of Criminal Investigation background checks of the Woodbury County casino applicants.
In a motion filed Monday, lawyers for the attorney general's office argue that state law shields such criminal investigations from disclosure and that "the documents being sought involve materials that are unrelated to any issue in this litigation."
In its civil suit, Penn last month also served subpoenas on MRHD board member Dave Bernstein, MRHD attorney Curt Beason and the city of Sioux City.
Attorneys for MRHD filed motions last week to quash or modify subpoenas for certain documents on the grounds that they are "overly broad and unduly burdensome," there are no limits on time or scope, and the materials are "privileged and/or protected by the work product doctrine."
More than 100 pages of Bernstein-related documents have already been turned over to the plaintiffs.
The city has turned over documents requested by Penn, including thousands of pages of emails in which Mayor Bob Scott, City Council members and other city officials discussed the casino issue, City Attorney Nicole Jensen-Harris said Tuesday. But she filed a motion last week to quash the subpoena of documents related to her consultations with other city officials, arguing they are privileged communications.