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Taveras v. Resorts International Hotel

September 19, 2008

ARELIA MARGARITA TAVERAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RESORTS INTERNATIONAL HOTEL, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bumb, United States District Judge

[Docket Nos. 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45]

OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court upon the defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiff's Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, for insufficient service of process, and for failure to plead a short and plain statement of the claims showing entitlement to relief. The Defendants are Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City Showboat, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., Colony Capital, LLC, Sun International Hotels Limited, Trump Plaza Associates, LLC, Trump Taj Mahal Associates, LLC, Resorts International Hotel, Inc., Bob Benz, and Elizabeth D'Andrea, (the "Defendants"), all casinos, casino owners, and/or casino employees. Plaintiff Arelia Margarita Taveras ("Plaintiff") patronized Defendant-casinos during a 14-month period in 2004 and 2005.

Plaintiff alleges the Defendants facilitated Plaintiff's gambling addiction and induced her to gamble away money belonging to her and others, causing her loss of money, emotional injury, and damage to reputation. Plaintiff, who is a former attorney, also alleges the Defendants' conduct caused her disbarrment. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges, Defendants breached their common-law duty of care to her, breached contractual obligations owed to her, conspired against her in violation of federal racketeering laws, and failed to report her casino transactions as required by federal law.

Defendants now move: (a) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a legally cognizable claim; (b) pursuant to Rules 12(b)(2), 12(b)(4), and 12(b)(5), to dismiss the Amended Complaint for defective service of process; and (c) pursuant to Rule 8(a), to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to plead a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for defective service, and thus denies the Rule 8(a) motion as moot.

II. FACTS

Plaintiff Arelia Margarita Taveras, formerly an attorney in New York, gambled recreationally at various casinos between 2000 and 2004.*fn1 She contends that her "gambling went from recreational to compulsive during the latter part of 2004 and the year of 2005." (Amd. Comp. § 47.) In that time, she gambled at a number of different casinos. (Amd. Comp. §§ 55, 48, 51, 53-54, 60, 62, 67-68, 107-109.) Plaintiff's compulsive gambling, manifest over a 14-month period, resulted in substantial financial losses. As a result of Plaintiff's gambling addiction, she neglected her professional duties and gambled away client funds. (Amd. Comp. § 66.) She was subsequently disbarred.*fn2

(Amd. Comp. § 78.)

On numerous occasions, Plaintiff's behavior during that period consisted of "consecutive days of gambling, without eating or sleeping . . . ." (Amd. Comp. §§ 112, 147, 150.) Plaintiff alleges that certain casino employees "refused to permit [her] family members from taking her home," (Amd. Comp. § 114.), and continued to allow her to gamble in spite of clear indications that she was a compulsive gambler, confirmed by information about her condition provided to casino employees by her brother. (Amd. Comp. §§ 152-53.) At the height of her addiction, Plaintiff was gambling five days per week and losing an average of $5,000 per hour. (Amd. Comp. § 73.) In a weekend of continuous gambling, Plaintiff lost $150,000. (Amd. Comp. § 76.)

During this period, Plaintiff alleges, she received numerous "enticements" from Defendant-casinos, including casino event promotions, gambling tournament invitations, promotions for free televisions, as well as free limousine rides, hotel rooms, food, entertainment, and gift coupons. (Amd Comp. §§ 137, 157, 159, 168-69.)

Plaintiff was hospitalized twice for "serious mental and physical ailments," (Amd. Comp. § 79.), and ultimately underwent in-patient treatment for her gambling addiction at a facility in Minnesota for nine months. (Amd. Comp. §§ 80, 81.) She filed this action against Defendant casinos, casino owners, and casino employees, on September 20, 2007 for relief in the amount of $20,000,000.

On February 29, 2008, in response to Defendant MGM Hotel, LLC's motion to dismiss for inadequate service of process, this Court allowed Plaintiff an extra 45 days to properly serve Defendant MGM Hotel, LLC, denying without prejudice said Defendant's motion to dismiss. The same day, in response to Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to plead a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), this Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice as to all Defendants except Resorts International Hotel, Bob Benz, and MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, allowing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint in compliance with Rule 8(a) within 45 days. Plaintiff so filed on April 14, 2008.

Defendants Bally's Park Place, Inc., Atlantic City Showboat, and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. have moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint for defective service of process. [Docket No. 40.]

Defendants Colony Capital, LLC f/k/a Colony Capital, Inc., and Sun International Hotels Limited have moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to plead a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). [Docket No. 43.]

All Defendants have filed motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [Docket Nos. 41, 42, 44, and 45.]

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted must be denied if the plaintiff's factual allegations are "enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true, (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)(internal citations omitted). Moreover, "[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of ...


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