Woman claims an Indiana riverboat casino took advantage of her gambling addiction
The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a Tennessee woman who claims a riverboat casino in southern Indiana took advantage of her gambling addiction to separate her from the better part of a $1 million inheritance.
According to a report by the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, Jenny Kephart, 54, an unemployed resident of suburban Nashville, says she was plied with luxury hotel suites, gourmet dinners, limousines and other services during a year of heavy gambling at the casino, now the Horseshoe Southern Indiana, in which she lost more than $900,000.
She still owes the casino money, according to the report, and the casino has sued her in Harrison (County) Circuit Court in Indiana for failing to repay six checks she wrote as markers, which bounced because of insufficient funds. Under Indiana law, gamblers who stiff casinos can be forced to pay triple damages, plus courts costs and legal fees. If Horseshoe ultimately prevails, it could receive more than $500,000.
Kephart filed a countersuit against the casino, claiming it knew she had a gambling problem and also knew about her inheritance. The Circuit Court judge denied the casino’s motion to dismiss her suit. The casino appealed. In March, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 for the casino. The majority said the riverboat isn’t legally obligated to protect Kephart and blamed Kephart for not cutting her ties to the casino in light of “her proclivity towards compulsive gambling.”
At the same time, however, the majority judges wrote that they were “troubled” that the casino would allow Kephart to lose all the money, and they expressed sympathy for her. And the dissenting judge, Terry Crone, wrote a stinging rebuke of the casino, calling its actions morally “repugnant.”
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Kephart, the case would return to Harrison Circuit Court, where her attorney said he hopes to show how the casino set its sights on Kephart and her money and that its actions were negligent.
Indiana high court will hear gambler's woes
November 11, 2009