Posted on: November 1, 2022, 10:46h. 

Last updated on: November 1, 2022, 12:43h.

A jury in Iowa has awarded $1.98 million to a man who was beaten at a casino for stealing a rewards card, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.

Isle Casino Waterloo
The Isle Casino Waterloo has a “hands of” approach to physical confrontations. But a jury determined it had failed in its duty to protect its customer. (Image: Caesars Entertainment)

Montana Gunhus, 36, was attacked by another customer at the Caesars Entertainment-owned Isle Casino in Waterloo, Iowa in January 2021. Gunhus, of nearby Evansdale, had found a players club left in a slot machine card that belonged to his attacker’s wife and was gambling with it.

The attacker, Damond Williams, reported it missing, and casino staffed traced it to where Gunhus was sitting playing slots.

As security staff questioned the gambler, Williams assaulted him from behind, knocking him to the ground.

Over the next 25 seconds, Williams landed 15 punches and kicks on Gunhus, who suffered facial fractures and was left blind in one eye.

Security staff did nothing to intervene.

‘Hands off’ to Violence

Last week, the court heard from the casino’s security expert Alan Zajic, who testified that the facility had a “hands-off” approach to physical violence, which was not unusual for similar-sized casinos in the Midwest.

But Gunhus’ lawyer, Jordan Talsma, argued the Isle had a duty to protect its patrons, and in this case it had failed to do so.

The casino was gambling with the public’s safety,” Talsma told the jury, as reported by the Courier. “They will take your money, but they won’t protect you.”

The casino argued that Williams was the only person liable for Gunhus’ injuries

“We’re not Mr. Williams. He was not employed by the casino, and he’s not a defendant in this case,” said Mark Thomas, an attorney for the Isle.

Williams is facing criminal charges for the attack and is currently the subject of a bench warrant after missing a court date.

Victim’s Trouble with Law

Thomas also pointed the finger at Gunhus himself for taking the card, describing him as “the trigger for the entire event.”

Gunhus has been in trouble with the police for burglary, most recently in July 2021, six months after he was attacked. This was not disclosed in court.

In their verdict Monday, the jury found the Isle Casino liable for Gunhus’ injuries, awarding him $1.732 million in damages. That includes $32,314 for past medical expenses; $50,000 for past loss of mind and body; $550,000 for future loss of full mind and body; $100,000 for past pain and suffering and $1 million for future pain and suffering, according to the Courier.

He was awarded an additional $45,000 for loss of parental consortium, $15,000 for each of his three children.