Palms faces $6.6 million judgment over patron’s sports book injuries

A customer injured when a sports book patron dived for a water bottle thrown into the crowd by a cheerleader has won $6.6 million in his lawsuit against the Palms hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

After a nonjury trial, Clark County District Court Judge Jessie Walsh signed the judgment in favor of Enrique Rodriguez on April 11.

Rodriguez lives in Riverside, Calif., and alleged premises liability and negligent supervision in his lawsuit against the Palms.

Walsh awarded him about $377,000 for past medical expenses, $1.8 million for future medical expenses, $1.2 million for past pain and suffering, $1.8 million for future pain and suffering, $289,000 for past lost income, $422,000 for future lost income, $427,000 in pre-judgment interest and $149,000 in legal fees and costs.

The Palms, which denied liability for the actions of the independent contractor cheerleader or the female patron who crashed into Rodriguez, is asking for a new trial.

In court papers, the Palms said the promotional water bottle was thrown during halftime without its knowledge and against its policy.

Palms attorneys questioned Rodriguez’s claims, saying that he claimed immediate pain and injury but instead of going to the hospital right away he insisted on completing an accident/injury report at the casino.

They noted his claimed injuries resulting from the incident ranged from conditions like knee pain, back pain, neck pain, sleep apnea, depression and obesity to ingrown toenails.

Medical experts for Rodriguez, however, provided evidence substantiating his claims of multiple injuries.

In their 2006 lawsuit, attorneys for Rodriguez said that on Nov. 22, 2004, he was watching Monday Night Football at the sports book when one of the contracted "Palms Girls," Brandy L. Beavers, participated in a promotion by throwing souvenirs to sports book patrons.

"A customer within the sports book/sports bar dove for a thrown souvenir and hit plaintiff’s extended and stationary left knee. Plaintiff then struck the person next to him, hitting the left side of his head, then falling down, thereby sustaining the injuries and damages alleged," the lawsuit said.

The suit claimed Palms officials had failed to properly instruct and supervise Beavers in her duties "distributing souvenirs to a crowd" and didn’t have reasonable methods of crowd control during the event.

After the trial, Walsh signed an order finding that prior to the November 2004 incident, the Palms was aware that promotional items were being thrown into crowds at events there and that "defendant knew this behavior was inappropriate because it was a safety issue."

In fact, Sheri Long, director of marketing, testified she had conducted a staff meeting instructing staff not to allow items to be thrown into crowds and that the injuries sustained by Rodriguez were exactly the type she was concerned would occur.

Vikki Kooinga, risk manager at the Palms, acknowledged in her testimony that this type of activity was inappropriate, wrong and beneath the standard of care for the hotel in protecting the safety of patrons.

Kooinga also testified she would have expected hotel security to stop anyone from throwing items into a crowd.

"Despite this awareness, after said staff meeting, and with knowledge of said foreseeable risk of harm, defendant constructed a goal post in the sports book for purposes of promotional items to be thrown," said the order signed by Walsh.

Records show Beavers, who had moved to Arizona, was a defaulting defendant who didn’t answer the lawsuit. Walsh found her 40 percent liable for Rodriguez’s injuries and the Palms 60 percent. But given their joint liability, the Palms and its insurers may be responsible for the total amount.

In the latest development in the case, National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., sued the Palms and Rodriguez on Tuesday, saying it shouldn’t be held responsible for covering the Palms’ damages.

The insurer charged in the lawsuit that even though the Palms was sued in 2006, it didn’t inform National Union about the case until September 2010.

National Union has denied coverage for the incident – in part because off Palms’ alleged failure to notify it of the suit -- and is asking the federal court in Las Vegas to sustain that decision.

The Palms has not yet responded to Tuesday’s lawsuit and it does not comment on litigation.

Affiliates of the Greenspun family, owner of the Las Vegas Sun, are minority investors in the Palms.

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  1. sounds like Enrique got over on the Palms. I can understand being compensated for that, but $6.6 million sounds excessive.

  2. Harrah's Entertainment Inc. now better known as Caesars Entertainment knowingly exposed, at a minimum, tens of thousands of their construction workers, hotel employees & hotel Guests to ASBESTOS during the course of many of their illegal & even some of their "legal" remodels. ASBESTOS is a known carcinogenic, removal of asbestos is governed by both state & federal laws. Harrah's management team knew that the asbestos was there and that it was going to be disturbed, but being the caring company that they are not they decided that it was more cost effective for them to illegally remove the ASBESTOS because who would dare to call them on it, didn't you know that they are too important to our local economy...too big to fail! Where was the Clark County Fire Department? Asbestos removal is supposed to go through the Fire Department. Why didn't the brass at the Fire Department not open up an investigation into the Asbestos aspect of Harrah's illegal remodels? Why did the Clark County DA's Office not investigate what was brought to them by the Clark County Fire Department & Clark County Building Department? Did the DA's office contact anyone regarding Harrah's Illegal remodels?...I forgot, my bad, David Rogers takes his orders from the Casinos, which was evidenced by his false statements in front of Judge Eric Goodman when the Harrah's case was closed. What happened to the taped interview of Chuck Gillenwater? did the DA's office contact anyone after speaking with Mr. Gillenwater? Good to know that the Clark County Commissioners, Building & Fire Departments, Nevada OSHA, EPA, CC DA's Office, Federal OSHA, Senator Reid, Senator Ensign, then Governor Gibbons...all had our safety as such a high priority. Las Vegas is a cesspool of corruption, and one would be hard pressed to find an official or agency willing to actually do their job...of course, in my very humble opinion... Special thanks go to Joan Whitely, the now ex-RJ Reporter, who exposed the TRUTH about Harrah's.

  3. Ok i gotta get this outta the way....Brandy Beavers? hehhehehhehe.

    Ok, really? 6.6 million for somebody trying to catch something? Is this really what this world is coming to? Because this guy has the coordination of rock, he hurt himself and sued them? Perhaps you shouldn't be chasing after free...bottles of WATER!!!?!?!?! Water? Are you serious?

    I guess after this those t-shirt cannon guys at basketball and football games are done with then huh? Perhaps we should just hand out this stuff to people randomly? Dude was embarrassed that he looked like a fool and decided to get some compensation. Well good for him, hope he lives a happy rich life......

  4. sounddude should try reading the article before posting comments. Someone diving after a water bottle dove into his knee throwing him back onto someone else causing his injuries.