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August 2011

Gordon & Rees Team Secures Defense Verdict in Racial Discrimination Case

A Gordon & Rees team led by Tom Stoddard and Ken Perri, and including Stacey Cooper, Jan Buddingh, Pat Lee-Gulley, and Doug Van Blarcom obtained a trial victory in a very sensitive race discrimination case against firm client Equinox Fitness Newport Beach. 

Plaintiff Ricky Collier sued Equinox Fitness Newport Beach for negligence and for allegedly violating California's Unruh Act, after his membership at Equinox was cancelled.  Mr. Collier, an African American, claimed that his membership was cancelled because of his race.  Mr. Collier asserted that an Equinox General Manager made a racial slur to him, and that shortly therafter his membership was cancelled.

Equinox claimed that Mr. Collier's membership was cancelled because of multiple instances of inappropriate and harassing behavior towards several Equinox employees, including female trainers and front desk staff.  The Equinox General Manager denied making any inappropriate comments to Mr. Collier.

The issues at trial were contentious and sensitive.  During trial, Gordon & Rees successfully obtained a nonsuit on the negligence claim.  Following a four day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Equinox on the remaining count. The jury expressly found that Mr. Collier's race was not a motivating factor in the club's decision to terminate his membership.