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Jury awards $1.7 million in casino beating lawsuit

WATERLOO — Jurors have sided with an Evansdale man in his lawsuit against a Waterloo casino where he was attacked by another patron in January 2021.

Attorneys for Montana Gunhus, 36, asked the jury for a $1.98 million verdict during closing arguments on Monday.

“The casino was gambling with the public’s safety,” said Jordan Talsma, who is representing Gunhus. “They will take your money, but they won’t protect you.”

In a verdict reached Monday afternoon, the jury awarded Gunhus $1,732 million. This included $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.

On the issue of comparative liability, jurors found Gunhus did not share any fault.

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The jury awarded an additional $45,000 in loss of parent consortium – $15,000 for each of Gunhus’ three children.

According to testimony, Gunhus found a players club card belonging to Damond Williams’ wife inside a slot machine at the Isle Casino. I started using the card, spending $100 in fan play credits.

Williams, 46, reported the card missing. Staff traced machines where it had been used and found Gunhus. When security staff approached Gunhus, Williams came up behind him and punched him, knocking him to the ground.

In the 25 seconds that followed, Williams landed 15 punches and kicks. Gunhus suffered facial fractures and was left blind in his right eye.

Talsma said the Isle of Capri Black Hawk County was liable because staff didn’t take steps to keep Williams and Montana apart during the missing card investigation, and staff didn’t intervene to stop the attack because the business has a “hand-off” policy for physical confrontations.

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Melody Parker

Attorney Mark Thomas, who represented the Isle, said Williams – who is facing criminal charges – is the real person responsible for Gunhus’s injuries.

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

He said Williams wasn’t angry or threatening before the attack, so casino employees had no reason to suspect he was a danger. The casino’s non-intervention policy is standard for similarly sized casinos in the Midwest, Thomas said.

The defense also said Gunhus shared responsibility because he took and was using Williams’ wife’s loyalty card.

“He is the trigger for the entire event,” Thomas said.

Jurors began deliberations in the case on Monday morning and reached a decision in the early afternoon.

Williams is charged with willful injury causing serious injury and is currently the subject of a bench warrant after allegedly missing a court date in August 2022.

Photos: Home Halloween decorations in Waterloo and Cedar Falls

Halloween 1

Halloween decorations on display at a home in Cedar Falls on Wednesday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 2

A makeshift cemetery has sprung to life, as it were, at a home on Cedar Falls on Wednesday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

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Halloween decorations on display at a home on Summit Avenue on Wednesday in Waterloo.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 4

A variety of creepy visages roam outside this home on Orchard Drive in Cedar Falls.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 5

Halloween decorations on display at a home on Heritage Road on Wednesday in Cedar Falls.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 6

Halloween decorations on display at a home on Grand Boulevard on Wednesday in Cedar Falls.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 7

A scarecrow and a jack o’lantern tree will greet trick or treaters at this home on Timber Drive in Cedar Falls.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 8

Halloween decorations on display at a home in Cedar Falls on Wednesday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 9

Halloween decorations on display at a home in Cedar Falls on Wednesday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 10

Halloween decorations on display at a home on Briarwood Drive in Cedar Falls.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

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Halloween decorations on display at a home on Southlawn Road on Wednesday in Cedar Falls.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Halloween 12

Clap for the Wolfman, this one on display at a home on West 15th Street in Cedar Falls.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

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