“An admitted gambling addict claims the British Columbia Lottery and two casino companies let her gamble away hundreds of thousands of dollars after she signed a voluntary self-exclusion program for problem gamblers.” [Courthouse News via Legal Blog Watch; similar] Meanwhile, another man is claiming the government-owned lottery did finally enforce its exclusion order — and, per its rules, refused to pay him — when he won a $42,000 jackpot. [Globe and Mail]
“The American Psychiatric Association wants binge eating and excess gambling to be considered psychiatric disorders. … Lawyers have plenty to say about the proposed disorders, which, some argue, could open up the door for yet more disability suits in the workplace.” [Tresa Baldas, NLJ]
A boost from Canada for compulsive-gambling litigation: “Quebec’s lottery commission confirmed Thursday that it has reached a tentative multimillion-dollar agreement to compensate thousands of addicted gamblers, in a case with national implications. … Similar lawsuits are underway in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland-Labrador.” [Canadian Press, CBC, CTV, earlier here and here]
And now the heir to a Nebraska party-favor fortune has a lawyer. [WSJ] More: Above the Law.
Arelia Margarita Taveras, a lawyer who gambled away client funds at New Jersey tables and then proceeded to sue the casinos, was thrown out of court by a federal judge. We covered the case Mar. 9. (AP/PhillyBurbs, Sept. 22).
Gary Charbonneau had a gambling history, including substantial wins, which devolved into compulsive gambling in 2002. He blames this on his Parkinson’s disease medication, Mirapex, which he started taking in 1997. Mirapex changed its warning label to include reports of a correlation while Charbonneau was taking the drug; Charbonneau’s doctor kept prescribing the drug. Nevertheless, Charbonneau was able to persuade a jury that the failure to warn was what was responsible for his $200,000 gambling losses (much of which came from gambling illegally) and resulting marital troubles. The jury verdict even awarded $8 million in punitive damages, giving a whole new meaning to jackpot justice (though one would expect the trial court to reduce this substantially). The only press coverage of this lawsuit, aside from a handful of blogs (Pharmalot; TortsProf; InjuryBoard), is in an op-ed I wrote for today’s Examiner about the case and about how a Supreme Court case and Congressional legislation could affect it. (Theodore H. Frank, “Jackpot justice gets new meaning,” DC Examiner, Aug. 19).
“The provincial agency that regulates casinos in Ontario, Canada, is being sued by registered problem gamblers who claim they aren’t being refused entry. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said the $3.5 billion suit was filed Tuesday in Toronto against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., on behalf of ‘thousands of addicted gamblers.’” Canadian litigation rules were historically highly restrictive of class actions, but have been liberalized lately. (UPI; Reuters; OGPaper). Similarly earlier here, here, here, etc.
Behrouz Foroughi, 43, says he volunteered for the exclusion list at the Star City casino and was told he would be denied entry, but was admitted anyway and lost large sums due to his gambling compulsion. (Gemma Jones, Daily Telegraph, Jun. 19). Similar claims have been tried a number of times in the U.S. but without much success: see Apr. 28, 2004, Apr. 19, 2005, Nov. 22, 2005 (France), etc.
Paul Theodore Del Vacchio is the worst kind of gambling addict—the kind that isn’t very good at gambling. He stole $500 thousand from his casino employer, and sought mercy from the court on the grounds that his addiction made him do it to cover gambling losses. (Well, he also bought a $20,000 pool for his 2700-square-foot home.) No dice:
“There are a lot of people addicted to gambling who don’t steal anything. They get themselves in debt, sure. They may lose everything. They may lose their family. They may lose their house. They may lose their cars, but they don’t steal….
“We can’t let everybody who comes in here and wants to use an addiction, whether it be compulsive gambling, whether it be compulsive drinking, whether it be drug addiction, we can’t as a society let them utilize that as a method of getting out of their wrong acts. You know, it’s like my saying I’m addicted to beautiful women and fast cars, so I get to steal from the court’s trust account….
“He’s here because he’s a thief. He’s a thief. That’s the bottom line. He’s a thief. And he needs to acknowledge that, not use the gambling as a crutch. He let down his family. He let down his friends. He let down his employer. He let himself down. But the bottom line is he’s a thief, and he needs to be punished for being a thief.”
Del Vacchio got the maximum sentence of four years. (Ashley Powers, “A gambler with a disorder, or just a plain old thief?”, LA Times, Nov. 1).
Retired Texas doctor Max Wells is suing seven casinos and drugmaker Glaxo SmithKline, saying an anti-Parkinson’s drug predisposed him to compulsive gambling. “His lawsuit, filed Friday, says the drug company didn’t warn patients that Requip could cause compulsive behavior. And it cites a 2005 Mayo Clinic study that documented 11 Parkinson’s patients who developed compulsive gambling habits while taking Requip or a similar drug called Mirapex.” (Claire Osborn, Austin American-Statesman, Feb. 22; KevinMD, Feb. 22). More: Derek Lowe comments (Feb. 26).
Now they’ve reached France:
A ruined French gambler yesterday sued a casino for failing to prevent him losing his money. Jean-Philippe Bryk, 44, claimed the Grand Cafe casino in the spa town of Vichy owed him a duty of “information, advice and loyalty”….
A spokesman for the casino said the “idea of gambling is that one runs the risk of losing”.
(Jon Henley, “Gambler sues casino that let him lose £500,000″, The Guardian (U.K.), Nov. 15; Lucy Mangan, “Bad gamblers rejoice – the casino’s to blame”, The Guardian, Nov. 16). See Apr. 19, etc.
Donald Carroll says the Borgata casino in Atlantic City was too helpful in getting his credit reinstated. (Judy DeHaven, “Gambler says Borgata took him on limo ride back to debt”, Newark Star-Ledger, Apr. 3). See Apr. 28, 2004 and links from there (& letter to the editor, May 10).
“Two problem gamblers have filed a potential class-action lawsuit alleging that Detroit’s three casinos have failed to enforce a state program designed to permanently bar gambling addicts from their properties. … Virginia Ormanian of Wyandotte and Norma Astourian of Taylor asked to be barred from the casinos in the summer of 2002. But they couldn’t stay away.” They are now suing the establishments for not doing enough to enforce the program, under which “gamblers who sign up for the program and return to the casino are subject to up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.” (Becky Yerak and Kim Kozlowski, “Gamblers sue Detroit casinos for not barring them”, Detroit News, Nov. 5). For earlier you-didn’t-exclude-us cases, see Sept. 7, Aug. 1 (Canada).