Harrison County

Handicapped oyster lover settles casino, restaurant lawsuits

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi has settled a federal lawsuit filed against it by an Alabama woman who also sued two other Biloxi businesses over handicapped accessibility.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi has settled a federal lawsuit filed against it by an Alabama woman who also sued two other Biloxi businesses over handicapped accessibility. ttisbell@sunherald.com File

Hope Elly, an Alabama resident who says she loves to visit the Mississippi Coast, has settled federal lawsuits filed against Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi and Half Shell Oyster House Biloxi over claims that handicapped access is limited.

The cases, filed in U.S. District Court, have been settled on undisclosed terms. Elly still has a lawsuit pending against IP Casino Resort in Biloxi over handicapped access, with the court record indicating a settlement conference is scheduled for April 24.

Bob Taylor, an owner of Half Shell, said the Biloxi restaurant will be making some changes over the next few weeks. The hostess stand is being lowered, for example, and some bathroom fixtures, such as the grab bar, are being moved to meet specifications in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the basis for Elly’s lawsuits.

“We want to be a good citizen and make sure we provide equal access to everybody,” Taylor said. “This is the first-ever complaint that we’ve ever had.

“Moving forward, when we do an opening, we’re definitely much more conscious of some of the potential problems that might arise.”

Elly said in her lawsuit she loves oysters and enjoys the New Orleans atmosphere at Half Shell. Her lawsuit against Hard Rock said the business failed to provide her the promised “live like a rock star” experience.

She has filed a total of 10 lawsuits over handicapped accessibility, most of them against restaurants in her home state of Alabama.

Elly is represented by attorneys at the ADA Group LLC, based in Montgomery.

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