Casino, Sheriff's Deputy Fail to Follow Expert Advice -- Result: $729,000 Jury Verdict for Patron Abuse

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A federal jury returned a verdict totaling over $729,000 in a case involving the abuse of a patron by security personnel at Hollywood Casino and a deputy of the Tunica County, MS Sheriff's office. The situation which gave rise to the verdict could have been avoided if the casino employees and the law enforcement officer had heeded simple warnings in Beat the Players, a book by Las Vegas attorney Bob Nersesian.

Pi Yee Press of Las Vegas, which maintains an archive of links to media coverage casino abuse of patrons, has learned that a federal jury recently returned a verdict totaling over $729,000 in a case involving the abuse of a patron by security personnel at Hollywood Casino in Tunica, MS and a deputy of the Tunica County Sheriff's office. A direct link to the archive of similar patron abuse cases: http://www.bj21.com/advantageplay/lawandtaxes/patronabuselinks.shtml

Las Vegas attorney Bob Nersesian has written a book on this compelling subject, entitled Beat the Players, published by Pi Yee Press. Nersesian is an attorney who represents victims of casino wrongdoing against patrons. In an enjoyable writing style, he takes a look at the often too-cozy relationship between casinos, police, and regulators. He discusses specific cases and dispenses sound, practical advice that patrons, casinos and public officials would be wise to heed. Cases discussed are from Nevada and other jurisdictions.

Beat the Players was the subject of a feature in USA Today. Link:

http://asp.usatoday.com/travel/GCITravel/InsidePage.aspx?sUrl=/travel/destinations/2006-09-07-casino-security_x.xml&cId=floridatoday

Pertinent advice to casinos and police offered in Beat the Players:

"Police agencies should look closely at the motivation of the casino when they come upon a detention. I have read more than one police report that says that the casino was detaining a card counter or hole carder. Casinos have no legal authority to detain a card counter (or hole carder in absence of collusion with a dealer). This has been confirmed by numerous verdicts. ... What the police agencies should recognize is that they have just written a report that indicates they have come upon a scene where the casino has committed a felony (false imprisonment). ..."

According to information in court documents, the victim in Tunica was believed by casino employees to be playing blackjack skillfully and counting cards, both lawful activities. Reports filed in the case indicate the victim was not suspected of any illegal activity. Nevertheless, he was detained by casino employees, who subsequently instructed a cashier to refuse to cash the victim's chips unless the victim provided them with his identification. There is no legal requirement in federal law or Mississippi Gaming Commission regulations that a patron provide identification to casino employees in order to cash chips, provided that the cash to be received is not over $10,000 (see US Code Title 31). In this case, the victim reportedly had won less than four hundred dollars before his play was stopped by the casino.

Pleadings in the court case stated that the victim declined to provide identification, and asked to be paid so that he could leave the casino. Instead, casino employees called the Sheriff's department. Deputy Dornae Mosby responded and demanded identification from the victim, who complied with the deputy's request but instructed the deputy not to show the identification to casino personnel. According to court records, the deputy ignored this instruction, and allowed casino personnel to take possession of the victim's identification and photocopy it. Attorney Bob Nersesian of Las Vegas, an recognized expert on casino patron law and author of the patron-protection manual Beat the Players, has commented that there is no legal basis for a law enforcement officer to hand over a patron's identification to casino personnel over the objection of the patron.

The victim was arrested by Mosby for disorderly conduct. According to public records, the charge was subsequently dismissed. The victim then sued Hollywood casino, Tunica County, and Deputy Mosby. The verdict filed in the case shows that the jury awarded the victim $25,000 from Deputy Mosby individually for the violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. The jury found the casino liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, conversion, and trespass to chattels. The final two items involve the wrongful taking of plaintiff's identification by casino personnel. The jury awarded $103,703 in damages to the victim from the casino, plus punitive damages of $600,550.

The victim was represented by attorneys Robert B. McDuff of Jackson, MS and A. Randall Harris of Madison, MS.

Case: US District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Delta Division -- Civil Action No. 2:06CV204P-A Grosch v. Tunica County et al.

Casino abuse of skilled patrons is an ongoing problem. Casinos often conspire with corrupt law enforcement officers to deprive patrons of their legal rights. A link to a news report of such incidents can be found at http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2003/Jul-06-Sun-2003/news/21616613.html

Pi Yee Press has produced a DVD featuring actual surveillance video of casino abuse of patrons, obtained through discovery in the litigation process. Link: http://bj21.com/ads/casino_abuse_video/ad.html

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