- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A bankruptcy court judge sided with Donald and Ivanka Trump on Friday, ruling that they can move forward with a lawsuit seeking to strip the Trump name from Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal casino.

Judge Kevin Gross lifted a stay that had prevented the Trumps from proceeding with their lawsuit in state court.

The Trumps say Trump Entertainment Resorts, with which Donald Trump is no longer affiliated, allowed its two Atlantic City casinos to fall into disrepair. That, the Trumps say, damages their personal brand.

The company has stripped the Trump name from most of Trump Plaza, which closed on Sept. 16, but is fighting to be able to use it at the Taj Mahal, its lone remaining casino.

“Unfortunately, Trump Entertainment Resorts has allowed the Taj to fall into an utter state of disrepair in violation of their licensing agreement,” Trump attorney Alan Garten said. “We think it’s a good ruling.”

Trump Entertainment declined to comment.

In filing their lawsuit last August, the Trumps wrote, “The Trump name … has become synonymous with the highest levels of quality, luxury, prestige and success.”

Donald Trump does not run or control Trump Entertainment Resorts, which was formed after the Trump casino empire emerged from the second of its three bankruptcies. But he retains a 10 percent stake in it.

The real estate mogul and reality TV star is particularly sensitive to any negative associations of his name with Atlantic City. He has repeatedly said he has had no involvement for at least six years with the casinos that bear his name.

In response to the lawsuit, Trump Entertainment began stripping large neon letters spelling out “TRUMP” on the exterior of Trump Plaza in October. But the result might not be what Donald Trump had in mind; the word “Trump” is still outlined in dirt or rust in many spots of the former casino facade.

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

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