Judge upholds Poetry lawsuit

A standoff between Caesars Palace and a celebrity-owned restaurant in the Forum Shops over allegations of racial discrimination will continue, so says a federal judge in Las Vegas.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Mahan thwarted attempts by lawyers for Caesars Palace and Simon Property Group — owners of the Forum Shops — to dismiss a lawsuit by owners of Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois restaurant and Poetry nightclub.

The lawsuit accuses the hotel-casino and the mall of blocking access to Poetry, which operates in the same space as Chinois, because it attracts a mostly black clientele.

Poetry’s managing partner Mike Goodwin says Caesars and Simon are responsible for closing a gate that provides access to the mall from the casino during the club’s prime operating hours, forcing patrons to take a circuitous route into the mall past trash bins, via an unmarked door and through a dingy hallway.

“The four days we are open, they close that (gate),” Goodwin said. “That is the only dignified way to get into the Forum Shops.”

Forum Shops attorney Charles McRea says there’s no legitimate racial basis for the case. According to McRea, the mall simply sent letters to tenant Chinois stating the nightclub operation was in violation of a lease agreement.

“This is not supported by a shred of evidence,” McRea told the judge. “We have not barred anybody from doing business with them.”

Caesars attorney Steve Morris says his client shouldn’t be included in the allegations because the hotel-casino doesn’t have a direct, contractual relationship with the nightclub.

Morris went on to say Caesars blocked access to the mall from the casino late at night for security reasons and that casino operators would lift the gate if the nightclub would pay to monitor the area.

“The increased security was available and it could have been provided,” Morris said. “But (Poetry management) would be required to pay for it.”

Mahan sided with the nightclub operators in allowing the case to go forward, despite the motion to dismiss from the casino and mall owners’ lawyers.

He said Chinois and Poetry lawyers needed to only present, “plausible entitlement to relief,” in order for the case to proceed.

“I think you have done that,” he told the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The dispute pitting Chinois and Poetry against Caesars and Simon began in the court system in October 2007, when Caesars and Simon sued Chinois in a Delaware court, accusing the restaurant of violating its lease by allowing the nightclub to operate.

Chinois and Poetry countered with a lawsuit in Nevada, which was kicked to the federal court system because it contained racial allegations related to federal equal rights laws.

The motion to dismiss was first scheduled for debate in October, and was postponed several times before finally being heard Thursday.

After the motion hearing, Goodwin said it was disingenuous for Caesars and Simon lawyers to suggest Poetry should foot the bill for more security.

Goodwin says he employs one security guard for every 35 to 40 patrons inside the 8,400-square-foot club and hires four Metropolitan Police Department officers to maintain order just outside the premises.

He also says the club, which cultivates an upscale customer base, is being blamed for rowdy behavior that occurs anywhere on Caesars’ property in cases in which the perpetrators are black.

In court documents Poetry cites an instance on Dec. 24, 2004, in which several black men were involved in an altercation at Caesars. Afterward, Caesars security sent video of the event to Poetry management, implying there was a connection between the club and the violence.

However, on the night of the fight Poetry was hosting an event for Jewish singles and there were no black patrons in the club.

A similar instance occurred in August 2007. After a fight in the casino involving two black men and a woman resulted in a shooting, Caesars security began blocking the main entrance to the Forum Shops late at night, forcing Poetry customers to make their way to the upscale club by going outside, past a trash bin area and through a barren hallway with rat traps.

Goodwin and Poetry’s lawyers argue the blockade was aimed at Poetry’s customers even though video of the shooting indicated the people involved wouldn’t have met the club’s dress code requirements, meaning they were not likely to be Poetry customers.

“They want to blame every problem they have on Poetry,” Poetry lawyer Harold Gewerter said.

Caesars and Simon lawyers, however, downplayed the racial allegations during the motion hearing.

They said they sent notices warning of potential eviction not because of Poetry’s clientele, but because they believed the relationship between the nightclub and Chinois was a violation of lease terms that prohibit subleases.

“There is nothing in those notices that alludes to race,” McRea said.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

Goodwill of Southern Nevada
Under CEO John Helderman, Goodwill of Southern Nevada has expanded its services including the new home of Goodwill’s Veteran Integration Program. Free job services are paid for by revenues generated by Goodwill's retail stores. In 2017, the sale of donated goods allowed Goodwill of Southern Nevada to train more than 17,000 job seekers. More than 2,500 of those found local jobs. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Little bat company on verge of MLB deal
Larry Thein, part owner and one of only three employees of the Tat2 Bat Company of Davenport, Iowa, made the company's first bat in a hog barn. He spoke of the humble origins during a trade show at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nev., on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Texas Roadhouse opens in North Las Vegas
Texas Roadhouse has opened at on Craig Road at Bruce Street in North Las Vegas as part of an emerging "restaurant row." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday Parade Lights Up Downtown Summerlin
Holiday parade lights up Downtown Summerlin every Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 22.
Nevada's solar industry on the rebound
In 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a new tariff structure that reduced net energy metering buyback rates and increased fix fees for residential solar customers.
Apartment complexes selling fast in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ apartment vacancy rate is among the smallest in the country, and rents are climbing faster than the national average. (LVRJ)
Aristocrat Opens $45M Campus In Summerlin
Aristocrat Technologies Chairman Ian Blackburne discusses the company's growth. (LVRJ)
Sunrise Hospital celebrates 60 years
Sunrise Hospital opened its doors to patients on Dec. 15, 1958. Employees of more than 35 years celebrated at a luncheon Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Jessie Bekker/ Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Maya Cinemas to open soon in North Las Vegas
Moctesuma Esparza, CEO of Maya Cinemas, talks about the newest location in North Las Vegas, set to open Jan. 10. The aim of the theatre chain is to serve latino-centric, underserved communities.
Holiday shopping and returns make this the busiest time of year for UPS
The UPS Las Vegas South facility is the company's busiest pre-load operation in the country, and it's even busier this time of year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times
The mall, attached to Primm Valley Resort, opened in 1998. Back then, it was a “textbook, perfect outlet-center location." But now, Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times. Las Vegas Boulevard has endless shopping spots. And there are other outlet malls that don’t require a hefty drive to the state line. Its mortgage-holder foreclosed on the mall in late September.
Miltary auction at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
Humvees, ammo cans, construction equipment, field gear and more is on the auction block Friday and Saturday at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. About 10,000 items in all are for sale in what GovPlanet bills as the largest auction of its kind.
Las Vegas residents discuss avoiding holiday scams
Las Vegas residents discuss their donation habits and how they avoid giving money to scam charities during the holiday season. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory ahead of economic impact expectations
The Tesla Gigafactory’s economic impact on Nevada has exceeded projections, bringing in more than 7,000 jobs. In 2014, Nevada agreed to give the automotive and energy company $1.3 billion in tax abatements. In return, Tesla promised to meet certain requirements in areas like employment and capital investment. As of June, Tesla has brought in a total of $6.05 billion in capital investment, surpassing the $4.95 billion projection. The original contract gave the company until 2024 to make $3.5 billion in capital investments in Nevada. Derek Armstrong, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Land sales near the Las Vegas Raiders stadium
Land around the Las Vegas stadium site has been selling for high prices. A few months before the stadium’s groundbreaking, Global Trust Group acquired a 2.5-acre parcel just north of the stadium site. The property sold for $7.25 million, or $2.9 million an acre. Osprey Real Estate Capital and Huntington Hotel Group acquired a 2-acre industrial site just west of the stadium site in late November. The property sold for $6.5 million, or $3.15 million per acre. That's roughly 12 times the average price of land in the valley this year as tracked by Colliers International.
T-Mobile Tech Experience Truck parks in Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena
The Tech Experience Truck is a state-of-the-art showroom on wheels, with demonstrations that put connected drones, smart cities, augmented/virtual reality and smart tracking. The exhibit shows new wireless technology – including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents to keep them from teetering off into homelessness. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vrgas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Crowds camp out for Chick-fil-A opening
Dozens of customers camped out 24 hours ahead of the 6 a.m. Thursday opening of the new Chick-fil-A on Rainbow Blvd.
Cheapest listings for sale in Las Vegas
Listed for $39,990, 585 S. Royal Crest Circle, Unit #9 is one of the cheapest homes currently listed for sale in Las Vegas. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Terry Miller discusses Convention Center
Project Manager Terry Miller explains the phases of Convention Center construction.
Zappos treats their team members on Cyber Monday
Zappos rolls out a variety of food, drinks and special activities for all team members at their downtown Las Vegas headquarters for Cyber Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Team Hybrid at the 2019-Model Motor Trend International Auto Show
Among the companies showing off the 2019 model cars, Team Hybrid shows off its modified cars. Las Vegas resident David David talks about the team, which is in its ninth year exhibiting at the show, and his show car.
Black Friday Shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal
Black Friday shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfYe
Black Friday shopping in Las Vegas
Black Friday sale shopers express their shopping experience. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday at Fry's
Shoppers line up for deals early on Black Friday at Fry's Electronics on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am on Nov. 23. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Black Friday - 1am Closing Time
Quiet night.
Black Friday - 12:30am - Best Buy Arroyo Crossing
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like