Napa Valley Wine Train Lawsuit Goes Forward

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Civil rights attorney Waukeen McCoy today praised a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California for its ruling to allow 11 African American women to continue to press their discrimination case against the former and new owners of the Napa Valley Wine Train.

The defendants filed motions to dismiss the case on several procedural grounds, for instance challenging the plaintiffs' claim that their rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal law. Judge Thelton Henderson ruled Feb. 9 that there is sufficient evidence to proceed on the ADA claim, as well as a discrimination claim under Title VI in federal law, which prohibits racial discrimination by entities which receive the benefit of federal funds (in this case, the use of federally owned and maintained rail lines).

"We believe this procedural ruling shows we are on firm ground with our claims for redress. Instead of addressing wrongs, the Napa Valley Wine Train, and its new owner, continue to foot-drag on this complaint," said McCoy, who represents the women. "These people are flying in the face of federal law as they accept the benefits of federal rail infrastructure. Bad actors need to stop this behavior and make appropriate restitution to those they have harmed."

In August 2015, the 11 women, eight members of a book club plus three of their friends, boarded the Napa Valley Wine Train for a birthday celebration. Less than halfway into the trip, the plaintiffs - 10 of whom are black – allege they were targeted by the Wine Train staff because of their race.

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