Class action lawsuit filed against P&L district alleging racial discrimination

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A controversial conversation on race takes center stage in Kansas City’s Power and Light after Cordish, the owner and operator of the district, was slapped with two lawsuits alleging racial discrimination in P&L.

The most recent, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of all African Americans who claim they have faced discrimination in Power and Light, was filed Monday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Kansas City.

"You don't have to search too far and too wide and deep to find situations that are just like mine and some even worse," Dante Combs said, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Combs alleges he was harassed and denied entry to a club based on his race. He also said he was victim of a so-called "rabbit" scheme.

"It's a Caucasian male who is given money by a staff member at Power and Light to start an altercation with an African American patron," Attorney Linda Dickens said.

Dickens represents the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit and said her clients and other African Americans were victims of this scheme and other discriminatory practices put in place to reduce or limit the number of African Americans in Power and Light.

The lawsuit alleges African American patrons were placed in separate lines or questioned more than white patrons. It also alleges that staff counted the number of African Americans in the club, “so that when the 'target' number is reached, additional African Americans would be turned away."

Zed Smith, the Director of Asset Management for Cordish, said the company finds these allegations baseless. Smith said he was shocked to hear the allegation of the "rabbit" scheme.

"It's preposterous. It makes absolutely no sense. It's so far-fetched that I can't believe we’re even talking about this," he said.

Smith said the company will investigate the allegations. 

"I think that the claims are outlandish. I see no truth in it. There is no truth in it. We've been operating this property for over eight years now and were very proud of the work we've done here as it relates to race relations," Smith said.

He also expressed caution about the validity if the claims.

"I think there are always those opportunists where people play the race card and I think this is one of them," he said.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million on behalf of the plaintiffs. Attorney Linda Dickens said she expects more people to join the lawsuit. 

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