Blacks allege racial bias, sue Florida hotel
Adam's Mark chain denies discrimination
May 21, 1999
ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- Five African-Americans hope their discrimination lawsuit against the Adam's Mark hotel chain will grow into a class action case. The plaintiffs, mostly young professionals who vacationed in Daytona Beach for its Black College Reunion last month, allege they were overcharged and singled out as security risks.
Fred Kummer, CEO of the 21-hotel Adam's Mark chain and its parent HBE Corp. of St. Louis, responded to the lawsuit with a statement rejecting what he called its "irresponsible claims."
The suit, filed Thursday in Orlando Federal Court, seeks class action status so that other alleged victims of discrimination can participate.
The five plaintiffs are represented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
The discrimination suit is the result of what the vacationers say happened to them while they stayed at the Adam's Mark Daytona Beach Resort in Florida from April 9-11.
That was the weekend of the Black College Reunion, a spring break gathering of black college students. According to the suit, the hotel:
The suit seeks compensation for the economic loss, humiliation and embarrassment suffered by the plaintiffs during their stay. It also seeks punitive damages and attorneys' fees, with the amount to be determined by a court.
The plaintiffs said they were constantly asked by hotel security to show their wristbands. Black College Reunion students not staying at the hotel were not allowed to visit them, they said.
"Having to wear a wristband felt like having to wear a badge of slavery," said Dante Gilliam, a plaintiff in the case.
Insurance agent Jamie Morrison, another plaintiff, said he had to "bathe with it, eat with it, brush my teeth with it."
"Whatever you do, you have to have this band on the entire weekend," he told CNN.
The plaintiffs also say paintings were removed from their rooms and old linens were placed on their beds.
White guests, it's alleged, received services denied to blacks. "I desire the same treatment as anyone else who stays at the Adam's Mark," said plaintiff Latoya Straughn.
"I felt like Adam's Mark was saying ... I wasn't good enough to stay there," the health care employee told CNN.
The students said when it was time to leave at the end of the weekend, they were herded into a long line to check out, even though they had pre-paid, while white guests were directed to another line where they received faster service.
Kummer's written statement denying Adam's Mark discriminated against the plaintiffs did not address the missing paintings and the mini-bar dispute. But he said:
"The hotel has always maintained a strong presence in civic activities, including those related to the African-American community," the company statement said.
"As an example," it said, "we have been leaders in local efforts to promote and enhance the Black College Reunion and were supporters and sponsors of the Daytona Beach African (American) Chamber of Commerce."
Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.
Students sue Daytona Beach resort for racial bias
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