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March 2020

Allison Jones Obtains Defense Award in Discrimination Suit

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Senior Counsel Allison Jones obtained a defense award on behalf of a Native American tribe in a binding arbitration initiated by a casino patron claiming disability discrimination.

The plaintiff suffered a seizure while playing poker at the client’s California casino. Casino security and EMTs responded, as well as paramedics and fire department personnel. The plaintiff refused to be transported to the hospital and wished to continue to gamble. However, casino personnel determined that he was confused and argumentative and therefore asked him to leave for the day. He refused and was eventually ejected by law enforcement.

The plaintiff brought claims for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, as well as various state tort claims pursuant to the Indian tribe’s tort ordinance. He sought damages for emotional distress, as well as attorneys’ fees and statutory damages.

Jones argued that there is no private cause of action against an Indian tribe under Title III of the ADA and that the tribe was not bound by California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. Further, the Casino did not violate Title III of the ADA or the Unruh Act because it had a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason for ejecting the plaintiff from its premises.

After hearing testimony from casino personnel as well as law enforcement and the paramedics who responded, the arbitrator agreed and found in favor of the Tribe on all counts.