The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California is allowing 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).
On Aug. 22, 2015, 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 and kicked off the train. As they were disembarked, the plaintiffs, aged 36 to 85, were marched through the six cars comprising the entire train and turned over to police who detained the women.
“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.”
The original lawsuit was filed on Oct. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.