Book Club Settles Napa Wine Train Race Claims


     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A group of book club members who say they were thrown off the Napa Valley Wine Train for “laughing while black” agreed to settle their federal discrimination action.
     Attorney Waukeen Quandrico McCoy represents the women and said that weeks ago both parties agreed to submit their claims to private alternate dispute resolution with Judge Al Chiantelli. They reached an agreement this past Thursday.
     The final resolution is confidential, but McCoy said it was “an amicable settlement” and that the women are “excited to go back to reading books and moving on with their lives.”
     The Wine Train board has to approve the settlement, McCoy said.
     Lead plaintiff Lisa Johnson and the Sistahs on the Reading Edge book club booked reservations on the Napa Valley Wine Train for their club’s annual outing on Aug. 22, 2015.
     The women said they were thrown off the train, threatened with arrest, embarrassed in front of other passengers and driven back in a van despite not being any louder than other passengers. They also said the train staff put the group in the back of the last train car instead of honoring their seating reservations.
     They said their book club was singled out because 10 of its 11 members are black, accused the Napa Valley Wine Train and its employees of race, gender and disability discrimination, conspiracy, libel, slander, emotional distress bad faith and breach of contract in a federal lawsuit this past October.
     A federal judge in February refused to dismiss the suit, after the Wine Train argued the women’s allegations were too vague and did not specify who did what, and sought a more definitive statement of pleading.
     U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said the book club provided eight pages of detailed and organized allegations, denied the dismissal and allowed the book club to amend its complaint.
     Soon after Henderson’s ruling, both parties agreed to alternative dispute resolution, resulting in the tentative settlement.
     The Napa Valley Wine Train did not return a phone call requesting comment on Tuesday morning.

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