Chevron TCI suit against Wilbur Marvin Foundation heading to trial in May

    A trial date has been set for May 2021 in a case between the Baton Rouge-based Wilbur Marvin Foundation and a subsidiary of Chevron over nearly $11 million the oil giant claims it is owed in connection with its role as an investor in the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center downtown. 

    U.S. District Judge for the Middle District Brian Jackson set the May 17 court date at a status conference in mid-October. Earlier this year, the two sides failed to reach a settlement agreement, court documents show.

    The lawsuit has been in litigation since Chevron TCI, which helped finance the 2005 historic hotel renovation by serving as an investor in the project, filed its suit in mid-2018.

    The suit claims CTCI had an option with the hotel’s operating company and TWMF, giving it the right to buy back its interest in the property at a discounted price at a later date. When CTCI tried to exercise that right in 2015, however, an attorney for TWMF refused.

    TWMF has denied those allegations and filed more than a dozen affirmative defenses, blasting CTCI’s claims.

    The Wilbur Marvin Foundation is a support foundation of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and essentially owns BRAF’s real estate development company, Commercial Properties Realty Trust.

    Commercial Properties was the developer of the downtown Hilton, a $71 million catalytic project that helped revitalize the area. Commercial Properties sold the property in 2012 for $40 million.

    While the case has attracted little attention outside of legal circles, court documents indicate lawyers for the two sides have been busy going back and forth in the case all year, though many documents have been filed under seal because of sensitive financial information.

    One document that is available, however, describes failed settlement talks between the two sides. The documents, filed in late August, say that early this year, CTCI asked TWFM to make a settlement offer. TWFM made the offer verbally at a meeting in mid-February, according to the documents filed by TWMF’s attorney, Claude Reynaud.

    Though the documents do not state the amount of the offer, Reynaud’s sworn statement says the offer was rejected and that he didn’t expect the two sides to reach a deal, “ … given the disparate interpretation of the agreements at issue in the case.”

    Reynaud declines to comment, citing confidentiality agreements in the case. CTCI’s attorney, Kirk Patrick, has previously declined to comment.