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Venetian loses imprisionment civil trial

13 April 2010

By Carrie Geer Thevenot

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A federal jury returned a $200,000 verdict last week after finding that Venetian security officers had falsely imprisoned a hotel guest from New York in 2004.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan presided over the trial, which stemmed from a lawsuit filed by New York resident David Lockhart.

Lockhart was a guest at The Venetian on Oct. 30, 2004, when he received a ride back to the resort. In the parking garage, security officers surrounded the vehicle and said it had been involved in a hit-and-run accident moments earlier.

Lockhart and the three other men in the vehicle, who were not guests of the hotel, denied any knowledge of an accident.

The security officers then ordered all four men to leave the property. Lockhart claimed he agreed to leave, but the officers instead escorted him to his suite to retrieve his belongings. He refused to empty his suite, and the officers arrested him on a trespassing charge.

Lockhart claimed he was handcuffed and taken to a security room, where he was shackled to the floor. He then was taken to the Clark County Detention Center, where he spent several hours. The criminal charge later was dismissed.

Jurors found that The Venetian committed assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and breach of an innkeeper's duty.

"The theme of the case was that they threw him out for sitting in a car, and that's not a reason for an innkeeper to evict a guest," said attorney Bob Nersesian, who represents Lockhart.

The jury declined to award punitive damages. Attorney Mark Schellerup, who represented The Venetian at trial, declined to comment Monday.

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