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Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Defective slot machine zaps gambler

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A slot machine at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino malfunctioned, delivering a shock that floored a gambler, according to a lawsuit brought by the victim.

While the incident occurred over three years ago, Willie Jean Robinson is still waiting to hear whether she can collect civil damages over the bizarre personal injury case.

Robinson is suing Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and IGT Inc. –– the manufacturer of the slot machines –– for damages related to her injuries.

The case stems from an incident that occurred in March 2006 when Robinson was playing a slot machine at the casino and allegedly received a shock that injured her right hand and left her with lasting loss of feeling in her fingers.

“When Plaintiff inserted the card into the slot machine ... she was immediately shocked by the machine and fell to the floor. The individuals who accompanied Plaintiff to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino attended to her and it was immediately reported to the Defendant Manager on the floor,” the civil complaint reads.

Her attorneys allege that Robinson suffered personal injury, lost wages, and incurred medical expenses as a result of the accident. But the case hasn’t been as simple as determining who, if anyone, was at fault for the defective slot machine.

Robinson’s lawyer, John Hayes of Charleston, S.C., filed the case in Jackson County Court. But the defendants in the case, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and IGT Inc. can’t agree where the case should be heard.

Last month, legal counsel for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Tribal Gaming Casino Enterprise asked a judge in Jackson County Superior Court to move the case to tribal court, arguing that a failure to do so would “adversely affect the tribal sovereignty of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”

Attorneys for IGT Inc. –– a publicly traded global gaming company –– argued that because neither the company nor the plaintiff resides in Cherokee, tribal courts should not have jurisdiction over their portion of the case.

Hayes said after talking to the casino’s attorney, he agrees the proper place for the case to beard is in tribal court. Hayes said he expects Judge Zoro Guice to issue an order that will move the case to tribal court.

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