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Gaming Guru

Alana Roberts
 

Couple Allege Intrusion at Treasure Island

4 April 2005

A newly married California couple has alleged in a lawsuit that their honeymoon night at the Treasure Island was ruined when four hotel security guards barged into their penthouse suite while they were having sex.

Officials of the gaming property have denied the couple's version of the incident.

The alleged incident happened on April 19, 2003, following the couple's wedding reception in the suite, said a lawsuit the couple filed in December against Treasure Island and MGM Mirage in Clark County District Court.

They alleged the incident caused them emotional distress and they're seeking in excess of $40,000 including punitive damages. Because of that the couple argues the case should be exempt from arbitration. However the company opposes the exemption request and is seeking to move the case into arbitration, alleging the couple doesn't have enough evidence to get a "probable jury" to award more than $40,000.

In the lawsuit the couple accuses the hotel of negligence, intrusion upon seclusion, negligent infliction of mental distress and intentional infliction of mental distress.

In the lawsuit the couple said the four security guards walked through the suite, entered the bedroom without knocking and watched the couple before the couple noticed them. When the couple asked them why the guards were in the room, they allegedly became belligerent before leaving, the lawsuit said. The company has denied that in its own court filings saying that the couple yelled at them before they left the room.

"What my clients told me is they were of course engaging (in) the consummation of their marriage when Mr. Fischer heard a cough of one of the four security guards," Melanie Porter, an attorney for the couple, said.

The couple allege the incident caused them, "extreme humiliation, distress, embarrassment and anguish and their wedding night was completely ruined," the lawsuit said. Their lawsuit also said the couple has since experienced trouble staying at hotels and that Diane Fischer has been prescribed medication to treat the stress and trauma she felt as a result of the incident.

MGM Mirage spokeswoman Yvette Monet responded to the lawsuit by saying, "we eagerly look forward to presenting the merits of this case in court."

The company has denied all of the couple's allegations either as unverifiable or as inaccurate in an answer filed in February. It also said that the couple did not exercise ordinary caution to avoid the incident and alleges they failed to resolve the dispute by other means.

Another court filing by the company said the guards were checking the welfare of the occupants of the suite next door because they hadn't checked out when they were supposed to. The filing said the guards loudly checked the suite next door and loudly entered the Fischers' suite through an open security door by yelling security no less than three times. The company's filing said the guards noticed a tuxedo jacket and a corsage in the adjoining suite during their check.

Allen Lichtenstein, an attorney for the Nevada American Civil Liberties Union, which has been critical of hotel security in the past, declined to comment specifically on this lawsuit. However, he said it's important for casinos to properly train their security staff about the law.

The ACLU has been critical of hotel security officials when they eject people from privately owned sidewalks because they have been deemed by courts as public forums where public speech can be made, Lichtenstein said. The group has also criticized hotel security officials when they go into rooms and arrest people and about how they treat certain visitors such as advantage gamblers.

"I can't make any general statement about hotel security," Lichtenstein said. "Oftentimes if there's a problem it's because of a lack of training or lack of information from above. There are a variety of circumstances where we've criticized security people at hotels for not doing their jobs properly and violating people's rights."

Tim Donovan, president of the Las Vegas Security Chiefs Association, declined to comment on the case.