Home > News & Events > Trial judgment ends longtime business battle involving $100 million Lake Geneva luxury waterfront housing development

Trial judgment ends longtime business battle involving $100 million Lake Geneva luxury waterfront housing development

July 7, 2014

Todd Rowden
Todd Rowden
James Oakley
James Oakley

Former prominent North Shore home builder Orren Pickell was hit with a six-figure judgment last week when a court found that he breached a settlement agreement that removed his ownership stake in the exclusive $100 million South Shore Club resort development on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.

Judge Donald J. Suriano of the Circuit Court of Cook County on July 1, 2014 sided with developer Geneva Project, LLC, handing down a judgment following trial against builder Orren Pickell, president of Orren Pickell Building Group, LLC, and certain of his affiliated companies. The ruling ended a 10-year legal dispute involving the South Shore Club, a 40-home luxury waterfront development in the resort area of Lake Geneva in Southeastern Wisconsin.

The trial judgment upheld a settlement agreement that was entered into in 2005 after Pickell was removed from the developer’s partnership. The court found that builder Pickell and his companies had violated the settlement agreement in numerous ways, including breach of contract, and awarded damages to Geneva Project, LLC.

Lead trial counsel for Plaintiff Geneva Project, LLC was Todd Rowden and James Oakley of Thompson Coburn LLP, working in consultation with developer Geneva Project’s counsel, Joseph J. Casper III.

“We are pleased that the trial court granted judgment for our client,” Rowden said. “The trial testimony demonstrated that the defendants violated the terms of the settlement agreement and did not do what they agreed to do. Trials resolve disputes and this dispute is now resolved. We are happy that we were able to help Geneva Project put this long-running legal headache behind it.”

The South Shore Club on Lake Geneva is located on the site of the former Northwestern Naval & Military Academy and encompasses 41 acres. The club has a private marina and fleet of boats, as well as a resort pool and subterranean clubhouse. French and English country-styled custom homes range from 4,000 to 10,000 square feet and carry price tags from $1.5 million to $6 million.

Pickell, who has more than 40 years of experience as a high-end home builder, was found personally liable on a joint and several basis along with certain of his affiliated companies. This judgment follows an Assignment for Benefit of Creditors liquidation sale of Pickell’s namesake building company, which occurred two years ago.