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Waiter Blames Crown Melbourne's Smoking Negligence for Lung Cancer

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Melbourne’s Crown casino is facing legal action from a waiter diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, who alleges that his employment in the casino's high-roller room, where smoking was allowed, played a significant role in his illness.

Dien Nguyen, a 39-year-old former employee, was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in 2020. He had been working full-time in Crown’s exclusive Mahogany Room since 2014. This VIP room had a special exemption from the Victorian government, allowing patrons to smoke.

Crown Melbourne Faces Lawsuit

Nguyen's lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court last month, claims that he was consistently exposed to an environment "heavily contaminated with smoke from cigarettes and cigars." The court documents further allege that Crown Melbourne Limited was, or should have been, aware of the risks posed by such exposure, which included the potential development of severe lung diseases.

The lawsuit points out several alleged shortcomings on the part of Crown. Nguyen claims that the casino failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks, did not measure or test the levels of smoke in the Mahogany Room, and neglected to maintain an effective ventilation system. Furthermore, the casino is accused of not consulting experts to assess the health implications of prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke.

Crown had received multiple complaints and notifications regarding employees who had developed lung cancer or severe lung diseases. These illnesses were purportedly linked to exposure to tobacco smoke during their tenure at the casino.

Related: Connecticut's Tribal Casinos Stand against Indoor Smoking

In a significant move in March 2021, Crown announced its plans to transition to a smoke-free environment by the end of December 2022. This decision came after the Victorian Government decided to revoke the smoking exemption, acting on recommendations from the Finkelstein Royal Commission's investigation into Crown's operations.

Nguyen's lawsuit asserts that Crown's alleged negligence played a pivotal role in his cancer diagnosis. As a result of his condition, Nguyen faces reduced life expectancy, impaired lung function, and chronic pain coupled with anxiety. He is now seeking damages, interest, and costs from Crown to cover his medical and nursing expenses.

Crown Casino’s Smoking Exemption under Fire

Lee Flanagan, the managing director of the law firm representing Nguyen, Arnold Thomas & Becker, commented on the gravity of the situation. He stated that the alleged exposure at Crown has "cost [Nguyen] his life." Flanagan further criticized both Crown Casino and the state government for their roles in the situation, noting that while indoor public smoking was banned in 2007, the exemption allowed hundreds to be exposed to tobacco smoke for over a decade.

In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Crown Resorts mentioned that they were made aware of the case only recently. Given that the matter is now under judicial consideration, Crown chose not to comment further.

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