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Thunder Valley Lawsuit "Quashed"

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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A lawsuit against Station Casinos, Inc. was quashed during a hearing Tuesday at the Bill Santucci Justice center. Tuesday’s hearing was to decide whether or not to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Lucy Taylor. The lawsuit was filed by Taylor on June 1, “complaining of false imprisonment, discrimination, and civil-rights violations related to a June 2007 incident in which Taylor was banned from the (Thunder Valley) casino.” According to documents filed with the Placer County Superior Court, Taylor was banned from the casino for offending a Thunder Valley cook with a “gag postcard” from Hawaii featuring “overweight Hawaiians,” according to previous Lincoln News Messenger reports. Taylor, still banned from the casino at press time, said Monday that “I just wanted to get back in the casino and see people.” “We (Taylor and her husband) do not socialize, except this was our pleasure to go and have breakfast,” Taylor said. “The casino was the place to meet the people that we know.” Tuesday’s hearing was the first time the lawsuit “has been in front of a commissioner or judge to date on this particular lawsuit,” according to Bob Zaro, the defendant’s attorney. Superior Court Commissioner Margaret Wells ruled in favor of the defendant (Station Casinos Inc.) to quash the lawsuit. “What it means is that they (Station Casino, Inc.) didn’t refute what they did, but are hiding behind sovereign immunity,” said Taylor’s attorney, Strowbridge Richardson, after the hearing. “The only way it’s going to be resolved is through legislative action.” Zaro’s argument during the hearing to quash the lawsuit was that “this isn’t a county and state issue but a sovereign-immunity issue.” He said Tuesday afternoon that sovereign immunity means that American Indian tribes with recognized and granted sovereign-nation status “have the ability and legal right to rule and run their own government on their land.” “It’s not surprising, given the thinness of the complaint,” said Doug Elmets, public information officer for Thunder Valley Casino, on Tuesday about the lawsuit being quashed. When talking to The News Messenger on Monday, Elmets said that “our (Thunder Valley) interest is protecting employees and patrons, and that Taylor “did things and said things that in our view were abusive and off color.” Superior Court Commissioner Margaret Wells suggested during Tuesday’s hearing that “the clients should ask legislators” to change any laws relating to sovereign immunity. “The only way it’s (the case) is going to be resolved is through legislative action,” Richardson said after the hearing. Taylor said after the hearing that she was “disgusted” and “in shock” after the ruling. “I am thinking about it right now,” Taylor said about whether to ask for help from the legislature on changing the sovereign-immunity laws. She said on Monday that she is not after money, but “just wanted to get back in the casino” to see friends that she had met there. Taylor said she was “trying to be a friend” when she gave Von Martin, the cook, the post card on June 2007, and, if she “knew it would have offended him, I wouldn’t have given it to him.” “I am naturally disappointed in losing but can live knowing I gave it a good try fighting,” Taylor added.