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Gamblers at Caesars Palace Casino in Las Vegas will live to smoke another day. Casino employees will do the same, whether they want to or not. Yesterday, lawyers for plaintiffs suing Caesars Palace and its parent company Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. dropped their suit for exposing workers to unsafe levels of second hand smoke. According to the plaintiffs' counsel, this had less to do with the merits of the suit and more to do with the undefined circumstances which now prevent the firm from representing the lead plaintiff, Tomo Stephens.
Stephens, a black-jack dealer for 20 years, was advised by her doctor to to quit her job with the casino. Stephens claims in the suit that "pre-cancerous cells were found in her stomach" and that the constant exposure to second hand smoke over the years caused symptoms such as irritation to her eyes, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath, dizziness, wheezing or tightness in the chest, headache, nausea and ingestion of cancer-causing chemicals and toxins. The lawsuit sought to represent as a class all former, current and future Caesars employees exposed to unsafe levels of second hand smoke.
Why was the suit dropped? Plaintiffs' attorney, Jay Edelson, an lawyer with the Chicago law firm Kamber Edelson, would say only that his firm could not continue to represent the lead plaintiff after "outside forces" interfered with the litigation. He did not elaborate on what those outside forces were.
Edelson's firm plans to file another second hand smoke suit against Caesars Palace on behalf of a more suitable plaintiff, who at this time remains unidentified. "We'll get our day in court," Edelson said, forgetting perhaps that it is the plaintiff, not the attorney, who needs to be heard by the court.
A similar casino workplace smoking case was filed by the same firm against Wynn Las Vegas on October 20th. That case continues.
Workplace smoking bothers many, but with casinos serving as some of the last bastions of hazed-filled public places (not to mention being founded on decadence), casino workers may have a tough road ahead.