Click to Chat

False Imprisonment and Wrongful Detention In Las Vegas

Posted by: on Sat, Jun 15, 2013

Share this post

Las Vegas False Imprisonment and Wrongful Detention Lawyer

False imprisonment or wrongful detention is defined by Nevada law as “an unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another, and consists in confinement or detention without sufficient legal authority.”

Hence, illegal deprivation of another’s freedom without probable cause creates a private right of action in tort. It is both a crime and a tort and applies to detention by a private party or government. It can happen indoors, such as in a Las Vegas casino or hotel, outdoors, or in a vehicle. It does not usually apply to situations in which a person is observed committing a crime because that would be probable cause. However, any person detained for any reason is entitled to due process, or the detention is illegal.

You don’t sacrifice your civil rights when you are a customer in a casino. You have the right to due process and appropriate treatment when you are on someone else’s premises that are open to the public. Security personnel are often poorly trained and use intimidation tactics, acting as if they have more legal authority than they do by law. All too often, security guards seize and detain customers in situations where they should either allow them to leave or call police.

If you were detained for hours by casino security personnel; falsely accused of cheating, shoplifting, or assault; denied your right to make a phone call; or handcuffed, you may be able to recover compensation.

Wrongful Detention by Casino or Hotel Security Personnel

If casino security personnel have good reason to believe a person, gambler, hotel guest, etc. has committed a crime, such as stealing, cheating, or assaulting another patron or employee, they generally have the right to detain that person, but only for a reasonable amount of time and without excessive force, and only until they are able to investigate the situation and call police. They must complete their investigation in a reasonable amount of time and release the suspect or call the police. If there is no probable cause for arrest, police cannot detain the person either.

In other words, even though casino personnel generally have the right to detain a person they reasonably suspect of shoplifting, stealing, or cheating, they are required to complete their investigation in a reasonable amount of time without using undue force. They don’t have the right to look in your bag without permission unless they actually saw you steal an item or if it is in plain view. Otherwise, they either have to call the police and allow them to investigate, or let you go.

Wrongful Detention by Disgruntled Las Vegas Taxi Drivers

Taxi drivers make their living by a combination of fares and tips. Paying the fare is mandatory; the gratuity is optional. In Las Vegas, with its millions of tourists (40 million per year) many people take cabs, and some passengers, for whatever reason, fail to tip the driver. Occasionally a disgruntled driver will not allow the passenger out of the cab without a tip, which constitutes false imprisonment and is entirely illegal.

Importance of Video Footage in Proving a False Imprisonment Case

If you’ve been wrongfully detained in Las Vegas, you may be able to recover compensation in a civil action or private civil litigation. To have a viable case, you must prove that you were arrested without a reasonable belief that you committed a felony, were treated with excessive force, were held for an excessive amount of time, or that your civil rights were violated.

Whether you were improperly detained by casino security personnel, by police, or by another party, you’ll need to hire a lawyer thoroughly experienced in Nevada law as it applies to illegal detention. The law requires that casinos provide their surveillance videos as proof of probable cause and proper handling of suspects. Your attorney will need to obtain the surveillance video footage, which will often contain the proof that you were wrongly detained or mistreated. If the casino doesn’t produce the video, the courts will usually interpret this in your favor and the jury will be so advised. However, you should be aware that many hotel casinos have a standard procedure that they will generally not produce the tape until and unless litigation is filed.

Nevada limits the amount of time to file a claim for false imprisonment; if you don’t act promptly, you risk losing your legal right to compensation. Call us today for a free consultation. We accept these cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay unless we win!

Pertinent Nevada Regulations and Statutory Provisions

Regulations of the Nevada Gaming Commission and State Gaming Control Board, Regulation 5:

…A person is considered to be detained when the person has been detained by casino security personnel and confined in the casino security office in such a manner as to deprive him of the ability to leave voluntarily….

…The licensee of the gaming salon shall be exempt from the provisions of subsection 2.010(5) of the Surveillance Standards for Nonrestricted Licensees, to the extent necessary to comply with the requirements of this subsection….

Nevada Revised Statutes 465.101 – Detention and questioning of person suspected of violating chapter; limitations on liability; posting of notice

…Any gaming licensee, or any of the officers, employees or agents of the gaming licensee who has probable cause for believing that any person has violated any provision of chapter 465 of NRS prohibiting cheating in gaming may detain that person in the establishment….

…Suspected criminal violations, committing felony in gaming establishment, detention of suspects by gaming licensees, see NRS 171.1235….

Nevada Revised Statutes 171.1235 – Gaming licensee may detain person suspected of having committed felony in gaming establishment

1. As used in this section:

(a) “Establishment” means any premises whereon any gaming is done or any premises owned or controlled by a licensee for the purpose of parking motor vehicles owned or operated by patrons of such licensee.

(b) “Licensee” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 463.0171.

2. Any licensee or the licensee’s officers, employees or agents may take into custody and detain any person when such licensee or the licensee’s officers, employees or agents have reasonable cause to believe the person detained has committed a felony, whether or not in the presence of such licensee or the licensee’s officers, employees or agents.

3. Detention pursuant to this section shall be in the establishment, in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable length of time and solely for the purpose of notifying a peace officer. Such taking into custody and detention shall not render the licensee or the licensee’s officers, employees or agents criminally or civilly liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, slander or unlawful detention unless such taking into custody and detention are unreasonable under all the circumstances.

4. No licensee or the licensee’s officers, employees or agents are entitled to the immunity from liability provided for in this section unless there is displayed in a conspicuous place in the establishment a notice in boldface type clearly legible and in substantially this form:

Any gaming licensee or the licensee’s officers, employees or agents who have reasonable cause to believe that any person has committed a felony may detain such person in the establishment for the purpose of notifying a peace officer.

(Added to NRS by 1973, 1700; A 2003, 20th Special Session, 15)

Links to Media Coverage of Casino Abuse of Patrons

Australian casino pays $95k to manhandled patron

Casino Canberra has agreed to a $95,000 payment to a young patron who was manhandled by security staff in 2006.

Lawsuits pile up as alleged casino assaults continue

In a downtown Las Vegas office, CD cases are stacked haphazardly, like an exhaustive, meticulously labeled music collection. These aren’t albums but rather, casino surveillance footage showing altercations between customers and casino security. This is a town where people are wary of making enemies of casinos, yet Bob Nersesian has made a career out of suing casinos and their security for assault and battery on behalf of customers.

Gambler wins $250,000 lawsuit against Imperial Palace

A Clark County District Court jury returned a verdict of $250,000 in favor of plaintiff/victim Chad Johnson against Harrahs Imperial Palace Inc. and its former Security Chief John Bezrutczyk, in a case involving false imprisonment and fabricated claims that Johnson, a former employee, had attacked Bezrutczyk. Bezrutczyk was involved in a previous six-figure jury award when he was Security Chief at the now-defunct Frontier and participated in another false imprisonment, that time of a skilled blackjack player. Punitive damages were subsequently settled by confidential agreement.

Patron wins $200,000 jury verdict against Venetian for false imprisonment and wrongful eviction from his hotel room

An incident that began over a petty traffic incident in the valet area escalated when guards falsely arrested a patron and the front desk manager wanted the patron evicted from his paid-in-advance room.

Patron hassled by nightclub wins award

A patron who purchased “bottle service” at Tao night club at the Venetian was hassled during a confrontation with a bouncer.

Casinos, police, state officials often intimidate legal patrons, lawyers say

“By what legal authority do guards detain, handcuff or arrest anybody who has done nothing illegal and is in the process of leaving the premises? It doesn’t exist,” said Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel of the Nevada chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Official requests ‘guidance’ — Casinos’ use of force at issue

A Nevada Gaming Control Board member is asking the attorney general for “guidance” about the limitations on the use of force by casino security personnel and the legal rights of advantage gamblers.

Court: Board, agent immune from suit

But the gambler then filed suit against the resort, the Control Board and Hearn charging false imprisonment, assault and battery, and conversion and conspiracy.

Griffin book producer files for Chapter 11, citing suit

Griffin Investigations Inc., which distributes lists of suspected cheaters and card counters to casinos, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a defamation lawsuit filed against the company by gamblers who said they were improperly detained at the Caesars Palace and Imperial Palace casinos, called cheaters and arrested.

Jury: New Frontier must pay $110,000 to card counter

The jury found the New Frontier, its security chief and a security guard liable for false imprisonment, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Regulators side with gamblers in cases of confiscated chips

Over the past few months, Nevada regulators have ordered the MGM Grand casino to pay two gamblers whose chips were confiscated by the city’s biggest gambling hall after employees said they couldn’t verify whether the players had won them.

Gaming Control Board agents fabricated crimes to aid casino

The effect of this ruling is that police officers are given carte blanche to make up reasons to arrest people in Nevada with impunity. Simply, police officers now have the discretion to knowingly lie in police reports, knowingly lie in bringing charges against citizens and force imprisonment without legal cause. Then, when the victim seeks justice, the police officers in Nevada can claim and receive immunity from the lawsuit.

Gambler wins $400,000 verdict in suit against Imperial Palace

Clark County District Judge Lee Gates has unsealed a $400,000 verdict a jury made in favor of advantage gambler James Grosjean against the Imperial Palace in a wrongful imprisonment suit.

EDITORIAL: Playing by the rules

Imagine what would happen to this town’s biggest industry if word got out that visiting players who break no rules or laws can be handcuffed, threatened and locked up for hours against their will — with impunity — for nothing more than playing card games well enough to win.

Attorney sues casinos for using card counting system

A Las Vegas attorney who has represented dozens of card counting clients filed another lawsuit Monday, this time to stop Nevada casinos from using a computerized card counting system that boosts the house’s odds of winning at blackjack.

Copy of the Mindplay complaint:

EDITORIAL: Are gamblers being fleeced?

The gaming industry’s viability — and the state’s economy — hinge on the premise that gamblers get a fair shake. Even the slightest hint that fancy shufflers and other glittering casino technologies can be used to swing the outcome of games is a black eye for Nevada.

Venetian to pay $1 million; Casino admits ‘serious violations’ in rigging giveaway for high rollers

The Venetian agreed to pay $1 million in fines and investigation costs to settle a first-of-its-kind complaint that the resort had fixed promotional contests to favor specific Asian high rollers.

Station found former Venetian executive suitable

An executive fired by The Venetian in connection with a 2002 contest-rigging scandal is working in a top job at a small Las Vegas casino.

Figures in Venetian contest-rigging land at Indian casino

Two of the casino executives fired by the Las Vegas Strip’s Venetian resort for their involvement in the rigging of three 2002 promotional contests are still working in the casino business.

Golden Nugget’s Poster deals, property accepts $30,000 fine

Executives of downtown’s Golden Nugget casino have settled a three-count complaint filed last month by the state Gaming Control Board and would pay a $30,000 fine under a proposed settlement agreement.

Nevada firms win key ruling on liability

A sharply divided Nevada Supreme Court has given Nevada corporations further protections from civil lawsuits brought because of the wrongdoing of their employees.

The court ruled Friday that the Gold Coast casino in Las Vegas was not liable for $372,000 in punitive damages awarded in the case of a black man who was severely beaten by security officers and victimized by racial comments while the sergeant-in-charge looked on. The ruling was the result of a 4-3 decision, and three justices who dissented had strong objections to the ruling.

Man returns lost wallet only to be handcuffed by casino guard

Payne said he believes his charitable act was turned into something sinister by a power-wielding security guard.

Tourist’s case serves as cautionary tale for security guards on Strip

The verdict was swift Dec. 13, less than three hours to decide that the guard and the Luxor should pay $203,230 and Mandalay Bay, which evicted her from her room after the incident at the Luxor, should pay $100,000. Then jurors went back to discuss punitive damages.

Romanski vs. Motor City Casino et al.

The lasting impression this case leaves is one of egregious misconduct — gratuitous abuse of power, sanctioned by a casino, that left a 72-year-old woman the victim
of needless indignities and humiliation. In moral terms, the casino’s conduct was significantly reprehensible; it surely was reprehensible enough to warrant a substantial punitive damages award.

Ex-Mirage official pleads guilty in privacy case

Former Mirage Resorts Inc. corporate security manager Eugene Harding has pleaded guilty to a federal charge that he conspired with a government official to illegally access an individual’s personal tax records while Harding was employed at the Mirage.

Judge tosses gambler’s conviction

A judge threw out a conviction against an advantage gambler and professional personal trainer who was convicted earlier this year of disorderly conduct for allegedly resisting arrest while being detailed, handcuffed and roughed up at the El Cortez.

Jury backs police in lawsuit; Advantage gambler sought damages after arrest on disorderly conduct charges

A federal jury ruled in favor of three Las Vegas police officers Tuesday in a civil case filed by a professional gambler they arrested in 2002 at the El Cortez.

Advantage gambler cleared of charges

Tobiasson interrupted testimony by Chris Tovia, a security officer at Mandalay Bay, to view a tape of the alleged incidents provided by the resort. She then said there was “absolutely” no credible evidence to support the state’s case that Dougherty had committed battery against security guards and was trespassing.

Carey vs. Ramada Express et al

Carey sued Agent Spendlove, the State of Nevada (the “State”) and the Nevada Gaming Control Board (the “Board”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that Spendlove violated his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by searching Carey’s shoes without probable cause and by arresting Carey for refusing to identify himself. Carey also brought claims under state law for false imprisonment and battery.

Palms patron files suit over security incident

“The next thing I knew my sleeve was torn off as someone was pulling me to the ground,” he said. “All I felt was someone grabbing the back of my head and someone else grabbing my feet. They were trying to pound my head into the pavement. I could feel someone big on my back with his knee. It came out of left field.”

A Clark County District Court jury subsequently returned a verdict of approx $131,900 for Mr. Noble.

District Court case number 03-A-473605-C

Winners Not Wanted at Greektown

If you are a skilled video poker player you are not wanted at the Greektown Casino in Detroit Michigan. Apparently the Greektown’ advertising slogan, “Let the Party Begin at Greektown” should be changed to “The Party is Over if You Win at Greektown.”

Fall of the Roman Empire

In an overreaction of thermonuclear proportions to my recent good luck, Harrah’s has barred me from playing in the World Series of Poker, and in fact from even setting foot in any of their hotels.

MGM, Other Casinos Abuse Patrons’ Rights

Abuse of casino patrons’ rights in Southern Nevada is actually more widespread than is commonly acknowledged.

Great Grandmother Strip-Searched At N.Y. Casino

A great-grandmother from Mount Vernon is filing suit for allegedly being strip searched at the Yonkers Raceway casino.

Federal jury awards $729,000 to victim of patron abuse by Hollywood Casino in Tunica

A federal jury returned a verdict totaling over $729,000 in a case involving the abuse of a patron by security personnel at Tunica’s Hollywood Casino and a deputy of the Tunica County Sheriff’s office.

The victim, who was suspected of counting cards, a lawful activity, but not suspected of any illegal activity, was wrongfully detained by Hollywood Casino employees, who instructed cashiers to refuse to cash the victim’s chips unless the victim provided them with his identification.

The victim refused to do so and asked to be paid so that he could leave the casino. Instead, casino employees called the Sheriff’s department. Deputy Dornae Mosby responded and demanded identification from the victim, who complied with the deputy’s request but instructed the deputy not to show the identification to casino personnel. The deputy ignored this instruction, and allowed casino personnel to take possession of the victim’s identification and photocopy it, despite there being no legal basis for so doing. The victim was arrested by Mosby for disorderly conduct. The charge was subsequently dismissed.

The victim sued Hollywood casino, Tunica County, and Deputy Mosby. The jury awarded him $25,000 from Deputy Mosby individually for the violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. The jury found the casino liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, conversion, and trespass to chattels. The final two items involve the wrongful taking of plaintiff’s identification by casino personnel. The jury awarded $103,703 in damages to the victim from the casino, plus punitive damages of $600,550.

Case: US District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Delta Division — Civil Action No. 2:06CV204P-A Grosch v. Tunica County et al.

About the Authors: The law firm of Albright, Stoddard, Warnick & Albright is an A-V Rated Nevada-based full-service law firm having attorneys licensed in Nevada, California and Utah. Our firm’s practice includes a strong emphasis on personal injury accidents. Call us at 702-384-7111.

Note: This article, and any other information you obtain at this website, is not offered as legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such, nor is it a solicitation for legal services. Only a licensed attorney can advise you with respect to your specific legal needs. We welcome your contacting our firm to discuss such representation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.