Possible SCOTUS Pick Sits Out Case Against Trump Casino

Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...

By Jacklyn Wille

The Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., defeated a lawsuit by a former blackjack dealer who challenged her firing and the handling of her health benefits. The casino’s victory is noteworthy for coming without any input from a judge on President Donald Trump’s short list for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected the dealer’s claims under New Jersey’s employment discrimination law, saying the dealer’s hand injury and receipt of disability benefits from the Social Security Administration meant she wasn’t able to perform the essential functions of her job. The dealer also accused Trump Plaza of failing to inform her of her rights to continued coverage under the casino’s health plan, but the Third Circuit said she waived this argument by failing to raise it on appeal.

The blackjack dealer appealed in 2014 to a panel of Third Circuit judges that included Judge Thomas M. Hardiman. Hardiman made national headlines in 2016 when then-candidate Trump included him on a list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court. Hardiman was subsequently removed from the judicial panel that ruled in favor of Trump’s Atlantic City casino, being replaced by Judge Cheryl A. Krause, an Obama appointee.

The Third Circuit explained the change by saying only that “it was necessary to reconstitute the panel.”

The court’s unpublished decision was also joined by Judges Richard L. Nygaard and Jane R. Roth. It affirms a 2013 ruling by a federal judge in New Jersey.

The blackjack dealer represented herself. Levine Staller Sklar Chan & Brown represented Trump Plaza.

The case is Taliaferro v. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., 3d Cir., No. 14-1083, unpublished 2/1/18.

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