- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A hearing is set for Thursday in Delaware in a dispute between Donald and Ivanka Trump and the casino company he once ran, over whether Atlantic City’s struggling Taj Mahal casino can continue to use the Trump name.

The Trumps are suing Trump Entertainment Resorts in state court in New Jersey, seeking to have the Trump name stripped from the Taj Mahal. But a federal bankruptcy case has put a temporary halt to that litigation, and the Trumps want to let the lawsuit proceed.

The real estate mogul and his daughter claim that Trump Entertainment, with which they are no longer involved, let the now-closed Trump Plaza and the Taj Mahal deteriorate to the point where it damages their personal brand.

The company is refusing to drop the Trump name.

In a bankruptcy court filing made late Monday, the Trumps say that allowing their state lawsuit to go forward won’t interfere with Trump Entertainment’s precarious efforts to keep the Taj Mahal from closing. The company got Delaware Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross to cancel its union contract, freeing it from costly health insurance and pension provisions. Gross will consider the Trumps’ arguments Thursday morning.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn would swap his debt in the company for ownership of it and inject $100 million into the Taj Mahal, but only if local and state governments approve $175 million in aid.

The company previously told the judge that having to defend a lawsuit over the name it does business under would distract it from the crucial work of saving the Taj Mahal and its 3,000 jobs. Trump Entertainment is threatening to close it on Nov. 13 unless the entire rescue plan falls into place, including the public aid.

The Trumps urged the judge not to be swayed by “hysterical and unsubstantiated statements” by the company about the risks it faces.

The Trumps also say that removing their name from Trump Plaza, which closed Sept. 16, does not “magically” enable the company to continue using it at the Taj Mahal. A licensing agreement that governs the use of the trump name applies jointly to both casinos and cannot be separated by property, they say.

In arguing that they are suffering harm under the present circumstances, the Trumps assert in court papers that “the Taj’s operations suffer from severe labor strife, with a threatened strike.” The union plans to picket the casino on Friday.

Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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