A.C. casino sued in nose-fracturing fracas
The casino rewards program John Binns registered for came with the promise of "unique and memorable" experiences.
But the South Florida resident wasn't counting on those experiences to include being roughed-up at the hands of casino security guards while on vacation in Atlantic City. Nor did he anticipate having his wife and daughter wrestled to the ground so forcefully that the daughter suffered a broken nose - all in front of a crowd of casino patrons.
According to a pair of lawsuits filed by the Binns' family members, a squad of four guards attacked Binns in the lobby of Harrah's Atlantic City after he complained that the key card to his hotel room wasn't working.
A spokesman for Harrah's parent company, Caesar's International, declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Casino surveillance cameras captured encounter and resulting fracas on video.
In the video, Binns' wife, Renee, and 17-year-old daughter, Andrea, watched in horror as the guards violently tackled Binns to the ground before finally subduing him after a struggle, the suit states. But John Binns wasn't the only member of his family to feel the wrath of the guards that night.
The Aug. 9, 2012 encounter began when Binns approached the front desk in the lobby at about 9:44 p.m. In the video, Binns appeared slightly agitated and waved his finger at the clerk, apparently over a key card.
The video picked up again about a minute later with Binns away from the desk and surrounded by at least three men.
Binns appeared frustrated, but is not physically touching any of the casino employees. The video shows two men suddenly grabbing him from behind and from the front, then taking him to the ground as onlookers watched next to a sign reading: "VIP Arrivals".
The guards struggled with Binns, with one or more placing a knee on his back, until they controlled his arms and cuffed them behind his back with plastic ties.
Meanwhile, Binns' wife, Renee, knelt on the ground and, according to the suit, pleaded with the guards to stop, telling them her husband has a heart ailment and wears a pacemaker.
The guards then brought Binns to his feet. Surveillance camera footage tracked Binns as security escorted him to an isolated office. A guard grabbed Renee Binns hands to get her away.
But that was just the beginning of the encounter with Binns' wife and daughter.
About five minutes later, video captured them walking through the casino, alone, and still in shock, when they were approached by security personnel.
One of the guards suddenly grabbed Renee Binns from behind. Five more men joined in and also approached her daughter, Andrea.
The guards overpowered the women and wrestled them to the ground. One guard pinned Renee against a garbage can as several others grappled with the younger Andrea, breaking her nose and knocking her unconscious as they force her to the marble floor, the suit states.
The family was forcibly reunited in a detention area. After being held for more than an hour, the Binns were released to the Atlantic City police. Officers took the family to a local hospital where doctors treated Andrea's broken nose, said their attorney, Michael Maggiano.
"They hightailed it out of Atlantic City that night," Maggiano said.
Maggiano believes the alleged attacks were unprovoked and not isolated. The suit alludes to other alleged attacks at Harrah's which Maggiano said were also caught on video.
A 179-page civil suit filed Feb. 10 lists Renee Binns as plaintiff. The suit, filed in Lee County Court in Florida, seeks unspecified damages and alleges assault, battery, conspiracy, false imprisonment, and wrongful eviction.
Another suit on behalf of Andrea was filed last year in Lee County.
"This is not due to some rogue guy in security," Maggiano said. "We believe this is happening over-and-over again due to reckless cost-cutting and lax management of security. You can look at these guards and tell they were empowered to do this."
The Binns family had been in Atlantic City for three nights at the tail end of a vacation sweep through the northeast during the encounter. They had planned to return to their home in For Myers at the end of the weekend.
John Binns, a professional poker player, was a frequent guest of Harrah's and several other casino-hotels in the Caesar's empire. Renee, a family attorney, often accompanies him.
"They thought Harrah's was a good safe, place for them to be," Maggiano said. "They were Total Reward members and thought they would get the perks, rewards and special care promised them."
According to Maggiano, John Binns continues to receive invitations to gamble at Harrah's Atlantic City.