Judge Rules Casinos Had No Duty to Stop Lawyer’s Compulsive Gambling
Posted Sep 23, 2008 6:03 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A federal judge in New Jersey has dismissed a lawsuit by a former lawyer who contended seven casinos failed to stop her compulsive gambling that led to $1 million in losses and the end of her law practice.
U.S. District Judge Renee Bumb said the casinos had no common-law duty to stop Arelia Margarita Taveras from gambling, the Associated Press reports.
“Plaintiff’s theory would, in effect, have no limit,” Bumb wrote in the opinion (PDF). “For example, if adopted by this court, her theory would impose a duty on shopping malls and credit-card companies to identify and exclude compulsive shoppers.”
Bumb also said Taveras had failed to establish that gambling is an “abnormally dangerous activity” making casinos strictly liable for damages.
"Playing blackjack, roulette or the slots bears no likeness to dumping toxic waste," Bumb wrote. "She spent money on the bona fide chance that she might win more money. In short, she gambled."
Taveras once earned $500,000 a year, but she lost her New York practice and her law license for skimming $99,000 from the escrow accounts of four clients to finance her gambling habit.
Taveras told AP she will appeal. "New Jersey does not recognize that casinos have a duty of care to gamblers, and people are dying because of it," she said.