California

Pechanga Band ordered to pay $2.8M for woman's fall at casino




The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians owns and operates the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. Photo by Pechanga Band

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians has been ordered to pay more than $2.8 million to a woman who slipped and fell at the California tribe's casino.

Suzanne Naruko was injured at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in May 2013. The facility admitted liability but disputed who was at cause and how much was owed for the incident, according to an arbitration award issued last month.

Judge J. Richard Haden sided with Naruko on both counts. He determined she was owed $43,000 for past medical expenses, $1.8 million for lost income and benefits, and $1 million in unspecified non-economic damages because she is no longer able to work as a school teacher and suffers from other health-related problems.

"The temporal proximity between her fall and all her problems leads to the inescapable conclusion it was the fall at Pechanga the completely changed Ms. Naruko's life," Haden wrote.

Attorney Eric Traut handled Naruko's case. In a press release, his firm said it was the only case ever to proceed to binding arbitration under the terms of the Pechanga Gaming Facility Tort Liability Act, a tribal law.

The law includes a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for certain situations that arise at the casino.

Get the Story:
O.C. woman awarded $2.8 million after fall (The Orange County Register 7/9)