LAS VEGAS -- Joyce Rhone didn’t see the attack coming -- and certainly not at a blackjack table at the vaunted Bellagio Hotel and Casino, her attorney said.
But in a scene that shocked onlookers, fellow Bellagio employee Brenda Stokes is accused of attempted murder in a box-cutter attack on Rhone. Stokes allegedly used two razors and repeatedly slashed the victim’s face with cuts so deep to her cheek that they revealed Rhone’s teeth.
Now a lawyer representing Rhone in the December attack has filed a civil lawsuit against the Bellagio, claiming that the casino’s security force failed to ensure “that its property was reasonably safe and to render aid to” Rhone.
Stokes, who is also a blackjack dealer at the Bellagio, came to the casino on her day off, a company violation, the suit says. Even though several security workers saw her before the attack, she was not asked to leave the premises, the suit claims.
“It’s bad enough that the victim was slashed,” Rhone’s lawyer, Harold Gewerter, told the Los Angeles Times. “What happened afterward was even worse.”
The lawsuit claims that no one from the Bellagio’s staff came to help Rhone, and that she was saved by a casino patron who finally stepped in to stop Stokes’ attack.
“If not for the intervention of a patron who wrestled [the attacker] to the ground, Plaintiff Rhone most assuredly would have lost her life,” the lawsuit claims.
Stokes, 50, who remains in custody, has been indicted in the attack on Rhone and in the stabbing death of 10-year-old Jade Morris, her fiance’s daughter.
The lawsuit says that Rhone and Stokes socialized after work, often with Stokes’ fiance. The suspect apparently believed the two were having an affair and attacked Rhone, the lawsuit states.
Gewerter told The Times that the Bellagio must be held accountable for not rushing aid to a gravely wounded employee. “If you count cards, five people will jump all over you, and that’s not even a crime,” Gewerter said. “But here is a woman who is wounded so badly she has to hold her face together and nobody does a thing.”
He added, “This is one the the city’s five-star hotels and this is how they treat people?
A spokeswoman for the Bellagio said the casino has not yet had an opportunity to review the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit states that following the attack, Rhone crawled for several hundred feet in full view of several pit bosses.
“People saw her. The pit bosses, they stood and watched like it was some horror film,” Gewerter said. “After the victim crawled several hundred feet, a cocktail waitress finally leaned in and asked ‘What’s going on, dear?’ Then Ms. Rhone collapsed. The next thing she remembers is being surrounded by paramedics and cops.”
Gewerter said Rhone, a single mother, has had major cosmetic surgery and feels that she cannot return to work at the Bellagio.
“One cut goes from her eye to her lips,” he said. "“She wears a scarf whenever she goes out in public. She’s just scared.”