Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
staff reporter Post’s e-mail address is [email protected]. Hitting the jackpot took on new meaning in a Detroit federal courtroom where a 74-year-old woman battled a casino over a nickel and won $875,000. In the summer of 2001, Estella Romanski, a resident of Troy, Mich., took a chartered bus with other seniors to try their luck in the MotorCity Casino, in nearby Detroit. Romanski had a little luck at first. She found an abandoned nickel credit at a deserted slot machine, she said. But she never got to play it. Romanski, a retired Arthur Murray dance teacher, said that she was suddenly surrounded by casino security officers. She was then questioned, photographed, held against her will and finally tossed out of the casino, she alleged. Adding insult to injury, the officers first stripped her of her $9 meal ticket, she claimed. Neil H. Fink of the Law Offices of Neil H. Fink in Birmingham, Mich., took her case to state court under theories of civil rights violations, false arrest, false imprisonment, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Romanski v. Detroit Entertainment, No. 02-CV-73358 (E.D. Mich.). The casino, represented by Robert F. MacAlpine of Detroit’s Garan Lucow Miller, removed the case to federal court because the plaintiff had alleged a federal civil rights violation under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Casinos nationwide frown on “slot walking,” the art of finding abandoned credit on slot machines or tokens in the hopper that haven’t been played. This is to make sure “that proper taxes are paid, and to preserve order in the casino,” said Jack Barthwell, MotorCity’s public relations director. “Because it’s not your money, you’re taking something that doesn’t belong to you,” Barthwell said. “We believe it’s owned by the person who bet it or by the casino.” Finders, keepers Not so, according to Fink, who said the jury was instructed that under Michigan law the finder of lost or abandoned property has superior title to it than the owner of the locality where the property is found. The casino’s conduct was “outrageous,” Fink charged. “Romanski committed no crime.” The casino’s policy was not written, he said. “It was a secret policy.” An eight-person jury reached unanimous verdicts for Romanski on her civil rights, false imprisonment and false arrest claims, awarding her $270-and five cents-in general damages and $875,000 in punitive damages. That’s about one day’s profit for the casino, Fink said. The jury found for the defendant on the plaintiff’s other claims. The defense counsel could not be reached for comment. Barthwell said the casino will appeal, but may first ask the court to reduce damages. Post’s e-mail address is [email protected].

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.