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Legal troubles: Judson Uhre sues mother, brothers over Grand Gateway Hotel

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The family that owns the Grand Gateway Hotel is facing a lawsuit from one of their own.

Judson Uhre filed a lawsuit Monday in Pennington County against the Retsel Corporation — the company that operates the Grand Gateway Hotel — and his mother, Connie Uhre, and brothers, Nick Uhre and Chad Uhre. Judson is alleging a breach of fiduciary duty, shareholder oppression and tortuous interference in the operation of the hotel.

In the Retsel Corporation's most recent annual filing, Connie is listed as the president, Chad as vice president and Nick as a board member. Judson is suing the corporation and his family as a shareholder.

Connie made a name for herself in local and national media after she made social media comments saying she would no longer allow Native Americans on the premises of the hotel or the adjoining Cheers Lounge because she could not tell between “a bad native or a Good native.”

Connie Uhre post
Connie Uhre Facebook comment

Connie made her comments following a March 19 shooting at the hotel that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Myron Pourier. Quincy Bear Robe, 19, faces a second-degree murder charge in state court for Pourier's death.

Members of NDN Collective, an Indigenous-led activist organization, attempted to book rooms after Connie's statements and said they were turned away. 

NDN1B.jpg

Hundreds of tribal leaders, members and supporters arrive at the Grand Gateway Hotel after marching from Roosevelt Park. 

Amid protests, the hotel shut down for approximately a month. After reopening, Connie found herself in the custody of the Rapid City Police Department on May 27 after she sprayed a cleaning product at NDN Collective demonstrators outside the hotel. She is facing three counts of simple assault.

In his lawsuit against his family, Judson said the actions of his family have irreparably hurt the business.

“Connie Uhre had a duty of care to ensure that she conducts herself in a manner not prejudicial to the business of the corporation, however, she went ahead and made a racially charged rant which was posted on a website with wide coverage and this led to financial loss of clients for the hotel as well as the damage to the hotel’s reputation,” Judson wrote.

The board has not held a meeting since Connie became president of the Retsel Corporation, according to the complaint, and, after Connie’s social media comments, the corporation’s secretary tried to set up a special meeting to “discuss Connie’s shameful post.” A meeting never took place according to Judson. 

“The bylaws of the corporation require a special meeting to be held upon request by any shareholder,” Judson wrote.

Judson also accuses his brother Chad of having an affair with a hotel employee, which he claims jeopardized the operations of the hotel as the hotel’s reputation was harmed. 

According to the complaint, Chad also did not carry out his duty to provide refinancing paperwork to the hotel’s bank, which led to financial loss because the delay led to a higher interest rate for the loan.

The complaint continues by stating Nick spit, shouted and swore at a guest during a Black Lives Matter protest.

“During Nick Uhre’s tenure as the acting manager at the Grand Gateway Hotel, he has made various racially charged comments about Native Americans and this has resulted in the hotel being despised for its racial discrimination and loss of the hotel’s reputation,” the complaint stated.

Judson claims Nick was arrested at some point for preventing board members from calling the police when they felt they were in danger, but he did not provide a date for the incident. On Friday, the Rapid City Police Department told the Journal there is no record of Nick being arrested for an incident of this nature. 

Judson's filing states he seeks any and all damages due as a result of his family's actions — including but not limited to removal of board members from leadership positions, Nick Uhre providing a psychological evaluation, repayment of attorney's fees, appraisal of the hotel and immediate buy out of shares at 300% of valuation due in one payment or in shares that are equally distributed among board members.

No hearing has been scheduled on the lawsuit in Pennington County Circuit Court.

— Contact Shalom Baer Gee at sgee@rapidcityjournal.com — 

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