Last month, a predominately Black group of 11 women were kicked off the now infamous Napa Valley Wine train for laughing too loud. The women were members of Sisters on the Reading Edge Book Club and the incident spawned the phrase “Laughing while Black” and caused a social media storm. Anthony Giaccio, the CEO of the Napa Valley Wine Train, issued a public apology and offered the women an entire rail car valued at $6,200 for a future visit. However, the story is not over as book club member Lisa Johnson indicated the group may sue. “We’re standing our ground on this issue. … I really don’t feel that it was a true apology because basically I feel that they’re just being directed by their PR person,” said Johnson.
The group has now retained noted San Francisco based civil rights attorney Waukeen McCoy to represent them in a possible la lawsuit. According to McCoy, the actions of Napa Wine Train employees amounted to “malicious oppression” and “There must be compensation for the humiliation suffered.”
McCoy indicated that similar cases have settled between $500,000 and $5 million and that the offer of a train car by the Napa Valley Wine Train CEO was not going to settle or resolve the situation. “This was clearly racial discrimination. They have been humiliated, and we don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” he said.
McCoy plans to meet with representatives of the Napa Valley Wine Train in the next week to discuss a financial settlement for his clients. A spokesperson for the Napa Valley Wine Train declined to comment on any financial settlement.