Civil rights attorney Waukeen McCoy has filed an $11 million dollar lawsuit in federal court for racial discrimination, defamation (libel) and breach of contract on behalf of the 11 women kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train in August. Specifically, the group is suing Napa Valley Wine Train, Inc., Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Ltd., Brooks Street Property Management, Inc., Kim Powers, Kira McManus Devitt, and Anna Marquinn.
On Aug. 22, 2015, in an episode that attracted a crush of attention on the social media, 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, after some other passengers complained to staff that the women were being loud, the women (ten of who are black) allege they were targeted by the Wine Train staff because of their race and kicked off the train for “#LaughingWhileBlack.” 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.
Napa Valley Wine Train officials posted a false statement, the women charge, on their public Facebook page alleging the book club members directed “verbal and physical abuse towards other guests and staff,” necessitating police involvement in the incident. That statement, though later deleted, was republished by countless international, national and regional media outlets seen by millions of people.