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$1 Million Settlement on Swim Club Race Bias Suit

Judge Sabastian P. Lombardi, Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division – Essex County in Newark, approved a historic $1 million settlement in the racial discrimination lawsuit brought by the Giordano and Russo families and Ms. Marci Shepard against Le Terrace Swim Club and its owners Patrick, Ray and Patricia Nardone of Nutley in Docket #: L-008184-02 filed in 2002.

“This settlement is the largest for any racial discrimination case brought pursuant to the public accommodations section of our anti-discrimination statute,” declared Anne McHugh, Esq., a partner in Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman and lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “The sheer magnitude of this settlement is tantamount to an admission of guilt by the Nardones.”

Plaintiff Marci Shepard, a high school student who had just lost her father, claimed she was denied admission to LeTerrace because of her race when visiting as a guest of Plaintiffs Michael and Catherine Russo. The Russo’s were thrown out of the club when they stood up for Marci Shepard. Plaintiffs Annmarie & Philip Giordano claimed that their daughter Cara’s 11th birthday party booking was cancelled by LeTerrace because she had invited Filipino-American and African-American kids. The Giordano’s too were tossed out of the club for their stand.

While the defendant Nardones initially claimed they were a private club and therefore entitled to discriminate based on color, they soon abandoned this defense, instead contending that these incidents never occurred. However the plaintiffs were prepared to decimate the defendants’ case in this regard. As will be seen on Wednesday, May 26th before Judge Lombardi, plaintiffs can claim total victory, putting an end to this highly charged case of racial discrimination.

Donna duBeth Gardiner, Esq. of McElroy, Deutsch & Mulvaney in Morristown represented the defendants.

“A business cannot call itself a ‘private club’ in order to circumvent the discrimination laws of New Jersey,” explained Ms. McHugh. “It was clear in this case that if you had the money and right color skin, then you could become a member of Mr. Nardone’s club.”

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