DURHAM, NC – In an unusual twist to the courtroom saga between former Duke University basketball star Christian Laettner and his investment partners in the redevelopment of West Village in Durham, five of his creditors have filed an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition against the former college basketball superstar.
At issue is $14 million that the investors say they are still owed by Laettner after winning earlier court judgments against him.
Laettner and his real estate businesses have been defendants in several civil lawsuits across the country in recent years. The cases were regarding loans received from friends and fellow professional athletes for real estate projects in Durham, Baltimore and elsewhere, some of which never panned out.
But Laettner has become more of a target in recent months after the February sale of the Phase II buildings at West Village in Durham, an apartment, office and retail development that sold for $187 million.
According to North Carolina court documents, at least one of the business entities in which Laettner is still a partner, Fuller Street Development LLC, received multiple cash surplus notes as an owner in the West Village Phase II mixed-use property, plus $28.3 million from the proceeds of its sale. The records did not disclose how much Laettner, now a resident of Florida, might have personally profited from the West Village deal.
Durham lawyer Dick Hutson, who is representing Laettner in the bankruptcy case filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Middle District of North Carolina, did not immediately return calls for comment.
Another attorney representing Laettner, Hassan Zavareei, said he hopes Laettner can negotiate a settlement and that the Chapter 7 filing may eventually be dismissed. “Mr. Laettner has done and continues to do everything possible to repay his fellow investors,” Zavareei said in statement issued by his law firm to the Wall Street Journal and Buffalo Business First, a sister publication.
The bankruptcy petition list said the monies owed are “primarily business debt.”
Plaintiffs and amount owed were listed as follows:
- NSA-SP#3, LLC (National Servicing & Administration), $7,321,230
- Ernest Sims III, $1,482,730
- Jonathan Stewart, $3,629,230
- Park Lane IBS, LLC, $236,193
- D&F DCU, LLC, $1,382,545
A copy of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition has also been filed as part of a North Carolina Business Court case that’s been pending since March 2016 related to the disbursement of proceeds from the West Village property sale.