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More attorneys’ fees ordered in Hotel Shangri-La case

The Hotel Shangri-La and one of its owners must pay a total of more than $400,000 in additional fees to the attorneys for a group of young Jews the hotel illegally discriminated against in 2010, a trial judge ruled on July 28.
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August 5, 2015

The Hotel Shangri-La and one of its owners must pay a total of more than $400,000 in additional fees to the attorneys for a group of young Jews the hotel illegally discriminated against in 2010, a trial judge ruled on July 28. 

A jury ruled in 2012 that the hotel and its part-owner, Tehmina Adaya, had violated California law in 2010 when Adaya ended a party the plaintiffs were holding at the hotel’s pool. 

Platinum Events had organized the party at the Santa Monica hotel for the Young Leadership Group of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). The plaintiffs said Adaya became incensed when she discovered the purpose of the party, and directed her security to inform attendees that they were not allowed to use the pool. During a confrontation, the plaintiffs also alleged that Adaya told the hotel’s then-assistant food and beverage director that she wanted the “f—ing Jews” out of the pool. Adaya denied the claims.

In December 2014, an appellate court upheld the jury’s ruling, but found that the trial court had erred in its apportioning of punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. The appellate court ordered the lower court to review the method it had used to determine attorneys’ fees attributable to Platinum Events, the one commercial plaintiff in the case, which was ineligible to receive damages related to a civil rights violation. California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, religion, and a variety of other traits and conditions.

On remand, the trial court ruled that Platinum’s causes of action were “inextricably intertwined” with the civil rights causes of action brought by the individual plaintiffs, and awarded the relevant legal fees — more than $70,000 — to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The trial court also awarded an additional $340,000 in attorneys’ fees against the defendant for losing on appeal. 

On top of statutory damages of more than $1.1 million, the plaintiffs’ attorneys have now been awarded a total of more than $2.5 million.

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