Shepard, et al. v. Le Terrace Swim Club, et al.

On August 22, 2002, the ACLU-NJ filed suit in state court against the LeTerrace Swim Club in Nutley, NJ, which engaged in discrimination against non-whites by excluding them from joining and from using the facilities as guests. The lawsuit is based upon the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The pool club, a privately owned business, is subject to the LAD as it is "a place of public accommodation" that is not "distinctly private" (i.e., it is not an "associational" club and it advertises to the general public). In one instance, the Russos, a white family who were members, attempted to take Marci Shepard, a 17 year-old African American girl they had taken into their home after her father died, to the club as their guest. A club employee told them that no more guests were allowed in that day. Thereafter, however, the employee allowed in other members and their white guests. When Ms. Russo complained, she and her children were told to leave the club. In another incident, the Giordano family attempted to host their daughter's birthday party at the pool. The pool club owner went over the list of guests with Ms. Giordano, and asked if any brown or black skinned children were on the list. When told that there were such children on the list, the owner told Ms. Giordano that they would not be welcome at the club. The Giordanos moved the party to another location. In May 2004, the case settled with the owners of the swim club paying the plaintiffs one million dollars. That amount is approximately half of the amount for which the owners sold the pool a few months earlier.

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