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Court Dismisses Claim that a Casino was Negligent for Allowing Delonte West to Fight Plaintiff

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

The United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division has dismissed an interesting lawsuit filed by an individual named Bahram Shakeri. Shakeri, the plaintiff, claimed that the MGM National Harbor Casino in Maryland was negligent for letting former NBA player Delonte West fight him on their premises.

In January of 2020, plaintiff was at the high limit gaming area of the MGM National Harbor when he claims he was attacked by Delonte West, who is a non-party to this suit. Plaintiff alleged that West is "known for battling issues of mental health and violence, including being convicted of weapons charges." Shakeri also claimed that he tried to get away from West, but West followed him throughout the casino and harassed him.

As for his legal claim, Shakeri said MGM committed gross negligence when none of its representatives ever intervened or asked West to leave the premises, even after West repeatedly attacked him. Plaintiff and West later fought off of the premises after West followed Shakeri's car.

Plaintiff filed the complaint on March 3, 2021, alleging that defendant MGM was negligent because it had a responsibility to provide a safe environment for its customers. Plaintiff said he suffered severe emotional distress and should be entitled to damages. Defendant filed its motion to dismiss on April 8, 2021. Last week, the court granted defendant's motion, dismissing the lawsuit.

Gross negligence is defined by the court as "[a]n intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another, and also implies a thoughtless disregard of the consequences without the exertion of any effort to avoid them." "Stated conversely, a wrongdoer is guilty of gross negligence or acts wantonly and willfully only when he inflicts injury intentionally or is so utterly indifferent to the rights of others that he acts as if such rights did not exist."

MGM argued it was entitled to a dismissal and did not commit negligence because it had no duty to prevent the criminal acts of a third party. Generally, a "business [MGM] owes an invitee [Shakeri] a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the premises safe and to protect the invitee from injury caused by an unreasonable risk which the invitee, by exercising ordinary care for his own safety, will not discover."

Here, the court held that plaintiff failed to establish that defendant had any knowledge of West's threats to him. "A business is not required to take precautions against a sudden attack from a third person which he has no reason to anticipate." Thus, plaintiff failed to state a claim for relief.

Hopefully, Delonte West can put this incident behind him and continue to improve in his road to recovery. West recently participated in BIG 3 tryouts ahead of their 2022 season. It's so refreshing to see him back on the court after years of anguish.

Jason Morrin is a third-year law student at Hofstra Law School in New York. He is the President of Hofstra’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society. Additionally, he is a Law Clerk at Geragos & Geragos. He can be found on Twitter @Jason_Morrin.

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