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September 23, 2014

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Caesars Palace smoking lawsuit dropped, Wynn suit continues

Attorneys have dropped their lawsuit claiming Caesars Palace workers in Las Vegas are exposed to dangerous second-hand cigarette smoke.

Jay Edelson, an attorney with the Chicago law firm KamberEdelson LLC, said the suit filed July 22 in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas was dismissed last week because of circumstances in which the firm could no longer represent the lead plaintiff, Tomo Stephens.

Edelson said Tuesday the firm plans to file another tobacco smoke suit against Caesars Palace and its parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. of Las Vegas, in behalf of a different plaintiff who has yet to be identified.

"We’ll get our day in court," Edelson said.

In the meantime, KamberEdelson plans to continue pursuing a similar lawsuit filed Oct. 20 against Wynn Las Vegas. Attorneys for Wynn have not yet filed their response to that lawsuit.

In the Caesars Palace case, the suit was dropped just days before the deadline for Harrah’s attorneys to file their response to the allegations. So Harrah’s side of the story was never told in court papers, and the company has declined comment on the litigation.

Stephens said in the initial lawsuit she was a blackjack dealer for about 20 years at Caesars on the Las Vegas Strip and quit her job June 16 on the advice of her doctor.

The federal lawsuit says pre-cancerous cells were found in her stomach and that over the years she was exposed to second-hand smoke causing 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.

The lawsuit sought an order requiring Caesars to take "reasonable measures" to protect its employees from second-hand smoke.

Edelson on Tuesday said his firm decided it couldn’t represent Stephens after "outside forces'' interfered with the litigation.

He couldn’t say what the outside forces were.

But Edelson said in the Wynn case, the plaintiff’s attorneys were "deeply disappointed" by Nov. 9 comments by Joseph Carbon, director of the Transport Workers Union Gaming Division (Local 721), that were supportive of Wynn’s efforts to reduce second-hand smoke.

Carbon’s comments were made in the context of the TWU working to sign a collective bargaining agreement with Wynn. The union issued a press release with Carbon's comments after a union leader was listed as the plaintiff in the Wynn smoking lawsuit.

In 2007 elections, the TWU won the right to represent some 1,100 dealers at Caesars Palace and Wynn.

The union is close to signing a contract with Wynn, but remains far apart in talks with Caesars Palace, TWU spokesman Jamie Horwitz said Tuesday.

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