Mullen, et al., v. Treasure Chest Casino, L.L.C. and Boyd Gaming Corp.

The District Court (Lemmon, J.) granted the Plaintiff’s motion to certify a class.  The Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and persons similarly situated, contend that they suffer from illnesses caused by and/or exacerbated by their exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke while employed by the defendants.  They claim “that the gamblers who use defendants’ casinos are incessant smokers and that the ventilation system of the defendant’s vessel is inadequate.”  The Court held that “a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the proposed class members’ claims and that this approach will promote judicial economy and avoid the wasteful, duplicative litigation which would inevitably result if these cases were tried individually.”  See Voelker, B., “Casino Class-Action Suit Says Smoke Hurt Workers,” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), September 5, 1997, B1.  The casino filed an interlocutory appeal.

On August 19, 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed, at 186 F.3d 620, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 19949, the District Court’s class certification.  See Gyan, J., “Class-action Lawsuit Against Casino OK’d,” The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), August 24, 1999, 5-B.  On February 22, 2000, certiorari was denied, at 528 U.S. 1159, 120 S.Ct. 1169, 145 L.Ed. 2d 1078, 2000 U.S. LEXIS 1090, 68 U.S.L.W. 3532.

In a June 11, 2002 order, the District Court approved a $2.25 million settlement of the case, with the two lead plaintiffs receiving $130,000 each while class counsel would receive $752,016.17, or 29.49 percent of the settlement.

Civil Action No. 96-0052, Sec. S, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13389 (U.S.D.C. E.D. La. 1997).