African-American guests sue Adam's Mark parent

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Five African-Americans who attended the annual Black College Reunion here last month sued the HBE Corp. of St. Louis in federal court, alleging that its Adams Mark Daytona Beach Resort discriminated against them.

The plaintiffs asked the U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., for a permanent injunction directing HBE "to take all affirmative steps necessary to remedy the effects of the ... discriminatory conduct."

The Adam's Mark allegedly required black guests to wear orange ID wristbands and to prepay rates of $250 to $300 (quad) per night for the hotel's least-expensive rooms during the reunion, held April 9 to 12, and to make a $100 refundable damage deposit.

The Adam's Mark allegedly required black guests to wear orange ID wristbands and to prepay rates of $250 to $300 (quad) per night for the hotel's least-expensive rooms during the reunion, held April 9 to 12, and to make a $100 refundable damage deposit.

The hotel also allegedly subjected black guests to "hostile and threatening security measures" and substandard service, limited their outside visitors and barred them from using on-site parking.

Michael Ako, the general manager of the Adam's Mark, said he was surprised by the lawsuit. "We are trying to manage a special event, not an ethnic group," Ako said, adding that this year's event went more smoothly than 1998's edition. "We had a lot of guns confiscated the year before," he said.

Fred S. Kummer, founder and chief executive officer of HBE, the parent company of Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts, denied that the resort's policies were race-related. Wristbands, according to HBE, are commonly required during heavily trafficked events, ensuring that maximum room occupancy is not exceeded.

According to Kummer, prepayment and damage deposits are "standard practice" for major events and excessive demand for parking, not "race or ethnicity," explained why some black guests were turned away from the lot. Kummer also said that any reduction in services stemmed from the "severely challenged physical plant and staff," and room rates were in line with special-event periods.

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