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Embattled Mt. Hood Center failed to provide required workers’ compensation insurance to employees, State officials say

One of the businesses behind the Mt. Hood Center was dissolved by the Secretary of State for failing to file annual reports in 2023

Boring, Ore. – New revelations regarding the embattled Mt. Hood Center and its equestrian and wedding event property in Oregon are coming to light — specifically that the company had failed to maintain workers’ compensation coverage for about four years since 2018.

An Equestrian Media Group investigation has revealed that the multiple (and somewhat confusing myriad of) LLCs behind the Mt. Hood Event Center, including Kaluga, LLC and Magdala, LLC, owned by California businessman Dean Najdawi, avoided providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage for its employees as required by Oregon law.

Magdala is a Florida-incorporated business based in Tampa that lists both Najdawi and Kellie Puckett, as well as a shared address in San Mateo, California.

Last month, the Mt. Hood Center was forced to close by Clackamas County officials and served simultaneously with a civil lawsuit, which alleged years of ongoing and serious violations of fire safety and building codes.

The action came following a recent stabbing during an event in March that reportedly had many thousands of attendees that overwhelmed security– much more than the building’s 300-person capacity.

Aaron Shelly, the company’s director of operations, recently told KATU News that it was a private event.

“It’s a scary situation, and we absolutely agree that the event was mismanaged by the company that rented the property, and we would never allow them back on the property again,” Shelly said.

The company also received recent controversy related to the treatment of a bull during a recent Latin rodeo event.

According to Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), Kaluga, LLC has never provided workers’ compensation coverage in Oregon.

“We did not locate any coverage records for Kaluga, LLC,” said DCBS Public Information & Communications Director Mark Peterson.

DCBS confirmed that Magdala, LLC had coverage through SAIF Corporation, but not until the spring of 2021, but eventually allowed its policy to lapse nearly a year ago. The companies took over the property in 2018, years before it obtained any coverage.

“Magdala, LLC had coverage with SAIF Corporation from April 16, 2021 through July 20, 2023,” Peterson stated.

According to DCBS records, the policy was “cancelled” in July of 2023, two months after the policy had been renewed. It was unclear if SAIF canceled the policy due to a lack of payments or other reasons.

Workers’ compensation coverage records for either business or under the name Mt. Hood Center could not be found between June 2018 and April 2021.

Peterson previously explained the role DCBS and its Workers’ Compensation Division play with Oregon employers.

“The Workers’ Compensation Division (WCD) of DCBS administers and regulates laws and rules that affect the participants in the Oregon workers’ compensation system, including workers, employers, insurers, claims examiners, attorneys, medical providers, and others. A key component of what WCD does is enforce workers’ compensation insurance coverage laws so that employers maintain coverage for their subject workers.”

“As with most no-fault insurance, workers’ compensation is fair only if it applies to all workers and employers. Oregon requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees,” Peterson explained.

Records from the Oregon Secretary of State also showed that Kaluga, an Oregon domesticated LLC, was dissolved in August of last year. Magdala remains actively registered in Florida and Oregon.

The Mt. Hood Center could not be reached for comment but has previously ignored numerous inquiries from Equestrian Media Group. Their phone systems also appear to have been shut down shortly after the controversy went public.

Our previous coverage can be viewed here.

Many engaged couples across social media continue to express frustrations with lacking communication and/or being ignored by the company in their efforts to obtain refunds.

The company released a message via Facebook shortly after the controversy broke, but it promptly removed the post and allegedly banned many individuals who had posted negative comments about the company, including some customers seeking refunds.

An email allegedly sent by the Mt. Hood Center to Kayla Graf, a woman whose wedding was booked at the venue, explained the company was only offering refunds for events within “the next 30 days”, explaining the company was “not offering refunds past the 30-day period at this time”.

Graf explained in an online post last week that the 30-day window leaves them with few options.

“Are we supposed to wait until right before the wedding to find out if we need to book with a new venue? What about all the other vendors that we have already booked for our wedding date?” Graf responded.

Graf spoke with Equestrian Media Group shortly following the initial publication of this story and confirmed that they have not had their deposit refunded. Graf claimed that she’s been in contact with several others in a similar situation who have yet to get refunds or even a response from the Mt. Hood Center.

Information for consumers is available through the Oregon Department of Justice at https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection/


This is a developing story you can count on us to keep you updated on.

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