Marlon Blackwell architecture firm sues over Saracen Casino design fee

DESIGN FEE AT ISSUE: Planned Saracen Resort. A court filing indicates a fee dispute over design of the Saracen Resort Casino in Pine Bluff.

Marlon Blackwell Architects of Fayetteville filed suit in federal court last Friday HBG Design, Saracen Development and John Berrey , chairman of the Quapaw tribe’s business committee alleging he’s being denied promised compensation for work on the casino-hotel under construction in Pine Bluff. A small annex is already open as construction on the larger project continues. It’s been said to represent an investment of $240 million.

Marlon Blackwell is chair of architecture at the University of Arkansas . He recently won the American Institute of Architects’ highest honor, a gold medal, for the body of his work.

The firm’s lawsuit says it did a substantial amount of design on the project and then HBG was brought in to assist. He said the Quapaws agreed to give Blackwell 35 percent of the architectural fee and 65 percent to HBG. But the lawsuit says the agreement wasn’t honored and Blackwell’s copyrighted designs were “stolen” for use on the project and Blackwell wasn’t paid The suit says further that HBG had “poisoned” the Blackwell firm’s relationship with the Quapaw tribe and Blackwell had been removed from the project.

The 55-page lawsuit, which details the history of Blackwell’s work on the project and some history on the passage of the casino amendment in 2018 that opened the door to a Jefferson County casino, seeks $4.4 million damages. Attorneys for Blackwell are […]

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