Vegas beating victim from Aiea sues casino for negligence

Published: May. 30, 2012 at 7:26 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 1, 2012 at 2:42 PM HST
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Calvin Kawamura after the attack
Calvin Kawamura after the attack

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Aiea couple is suing the Main Street Station casino and hotel in Las Vegas for negligence after an elderly man was badly beaten and robbed by a homeless man with a police record in a casino restroom.

The incident happened May 26, 2010 about 3 a.m., as Calvin Kawamura and his wife Jeanie spent their last night gambling on the casino floor before they planned to catch an early morning flight home to Honolulu, according to a lawsuit filed in Honolulu federal court May 24.

Calvin Kawamura -- who was then 68 years old -- went to the restroom.

"He's attacked from behind and his head is smashed into the urinal by a person we understand was homeless at the time, who had wandered into the casino unimpeded," said his attorney, Edmund Saffery, from the Honolulu law firm Goodsill, Anderson, Quinn and Stifel.

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Another casino patron found Kawamura unconscious in a pool of his own blood in the restroom, Saffery said.

A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department report on the incident said, "The suspect took Mr. Kawamura's 'fanny pack' which contained his wallet, $300 in currency, identification and credit cards."

Later that same day, Las Vegas police arrested Christopher Corson-Edwards, who was 21 two years ago when the incident happened, as a suspect in the beating and robbery. He is 6 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 220 pounds.

"He ended up in intensive care for several days.  He suffered skull fractures, bleeding into his brain," Saffery said.

Graphic pictures included in the lawsuit illustrate the extent of Kawamura's injuries, which resulted in two more surgeries in Honolulu to remove a blood clot and drain blood that was collecting on his brain.

"You have a casino which markets itself as being Hawaii's home away from home.  So there's this image that when you go there, you're just as safe as you are when you're at home.  And that's really not the reality," Saffery said.

The federal lawsuit faulted Main Street Station casino for not having better security down a long, dark hallway that leads to the restrooms off its main casino floor and the suit asked for unspecified financial damages.

"We're alleging that the casino was negligent in failing both to warn our clients of the danger that existed there and to take adequate measures to ensure their safety," Saffery said. "What our clients are looking for is to make sure that this never happens to anyone else again."

According to Boyd Gaming's 2011 annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, patrons from Hawaii made up about 55 percent of Main Street Station's "occupied room nights" last year.

"We will not be addressing specific questions about the case at this time," said Rob Meyne, vice president of corporate Communications for Boyd Gaming Corporation, which owns and operates the hotel.

"Boyd Gaming Corporation has a long-standing policy not to comment on pending litigation," Meyne said in an email.

According to the Las Vegas police report, the hotel used surveillance video to help identify the suspect who was arrested hours later by police.

But Saffery said the casino needs to go further than simply providing video surveillance, which he said is often aimed at securing the cash at dealers' tables on the casino floor.

"As much that is spent protecting the assets of the casino, our contention is that more money, more resources should be spent in protecting the people who go there," Saffery said.

Corson-Edwards pleaded guilty to robbery and battery with substantial bodily harm in the case and was sentenced in 2010 to ten years in prison with eligibility for parole in two years.  He remains behind bars at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.

Corson-Edwards told police he had been drinking and ingesting prescription medication the night of the crime.

According to the police report, he told police, "I hit the guy in the bathroom he said some S--- to me and I hit him.  I shouldn't have hit him.  I hit him two times and dropped him."

Corson-Edwards had been arrested in April of 2010 for grand larceny auto and driving under the influence in a different case, according to Saffery.

Kawamura, a retired Pearl Harbor shipyard worker, has lost some cognitive function since the beating, Saffery said.

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"Because of Calvin's brain bleeds and the changes she has seen in his cognitive abilities," the lawsuit said his wife Jeanie is constantly "on edge" and feels an uncontrollable need to know where Kawamura is at all times.

"Probably most distressing and damaging to their quality of life, Calvin and Jeanie have been robbed of their sense of security and privacy," the lawsuit said.  "They are now almost obsessive about their surroundings and are always 'looking over their shoulders' in fear of being attacked."

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