Roulette Ball Suit Survives Dismissal Effort

     (CN) – A Maryland company must face claims over injuries allegedly caused by a roulette wheel because its website says it owns the casino in question and it may have run TV ads in neighboring Washington, D.C., a federal judge ruled.
     Leander Stocks sued Cordish Companies Inc. last year, claiming he was injured by a runaway roulette wheel ball at Maryland Live! Casino.
     “While playing roulette, a casino ’employee operating the [roulette wheel] negligently caused the wheel’s hard ball to become airborne and strike the plaintiff just above the left eye at high velocity.’ Another employee escorted plaintiff to a private room to assess his injuries, and once there administered, without plaintiff’s consent, ‘unidentified liquid drops directly into the plaintiff’s left eye,'” according to court documents. “After receiving the eye drops, plaintiff became disoriented, fell forward, hit his head against a door, and lost consciousness.”
     Stocks alleges he has suffered from blurred vision, an occasional loss of coordination and post-traumatic stress headaches since the Dec. 15, 2013 incident. He says Cordish owns the casino but the company apparently claims it does not.
     U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta denied Cordish summary judgment on Friday, ruling that there is a dispute of fact regarding the company’s ownership of the casino.
     “Because there are material discrepancies between defendant’s assertion here that it does not own Maryland Live! Casino and statements to the contrary on its website, including one that expressly states it ‘owns and operates’ the casino, the court concludes that it would be premature to grant summary judgment before discovery,” Mehta wrote.
     The judge also denied Cordish’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because Stocks has alleged that Cordish runs TV ads in D.C. and that his negligence and battery claims arose from that advertising.
     “Given the early stage of this case, plaintiff has not had the opportunity to conduct discovery to substantiate its jurisdictional allegation,” Mehta wrote. “Importantly, even though defendant has submitted its own affidavits, it has not denied, or offered contrary proof, that it runs television advertisements on District of Columbia television stations to attract district residents to Maryland Live!”
     Mehta clarified, though, that the D.C. district court’s ruling does not mean that Stocks has definitely established jurisdiction. He must present evidence about Cordish’s advertising during the summary judgment stage of proceedings, the judge ruled.

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