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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Brought by Arab Man Detained by Avon Police After Hotel Employees Falsely Said He Was Pledging ISIS

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 8:51 PM

  • Avon Police body camera still

Update: After jury selection was finished on the first day of the civil trial but before opening arguments were made, an Emirati man who sued Marriott and two hotel employees after police were called in 2016 after he tried to check into an Avon hotel but was racially profiled instead reached a settlement with defendants.

Ahmed Al-Menhali, who was represented by the law firm of Friedman and Gilbert, had been back in Cleveland that year for a follow-up appointment for open heart surgery he'd previously had at the Cleveland Clinic. Hotel employees, falsely believing he'd been "pledging ISIS" while wearing a full head dress and "speaking Arabic," became alarmed. Relatives of theirs called 911 and police arrived with weapons drawn and detained Al-Menhali.

Terms of the settlement were not released.

“We are pleased to obtain a significant settlement on behalf of Mr. Al Menhali. What happened to him was a shameful example of how ignorance and intolerance still remain in this country, in this case, because of how he dressed and the language he spoke,” said partner Terry Gilbert in a statement. “Now that a resolution has been reached, Mr. Al Menhali and his family can find closure and move forward with their lives.”


(Original story 9/10/19): An Emirati man named Ahmed Al-Menhali in June 2016 arrived at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Avon looking for a room. A hotel employee, rather than helping him book a room, instead saw a "man in full head dress with multiple disposable phones" who was speaking Arabic and "pledging allegiance to ISIS." Allegedly, her sister and father called police on her behalf.

Avon police arrived with guns drawn. Al-Menhali was handcuffed and searched. He collapsed — he'd been recovering from heart surgery a few months earlier at the Cleveland Clinic, and he'd been back in town for a follow-up appointment — and was treated at a nearby hospital.

That moment of xenophobia and racial profiling would be the subject of a lawsuit Al-Menhali and his family filed the next year naming two hotel employees and Marriott, which owns the Fairfield Inn and Suites, as defendants.

"When Plaintiff Al-Menhali was arbitrarily arrested and the police pinned him the floor, he felt an incredible amount of pain which he believes is related to his heart surgery. He also suffered symptoms of a stroke and was hospitalized several days. [His] violent arrest and the false allegations against him were widely publicized around the world. As a result, Plaintiff suffered great reputational harm and lost lucrative business," the lawsuit said.

After two long years, that trial began this morning.

“Fairfield Inn & Suites’ employees caused an innocent man—Ahmed Al Menhali—to endure a terrifying attack and police detention,” said Sarah Gelsomino of Friedman and Gilbert in a statement. “Hotel employees falsely labeled Al Menhali a terrorist merely because he is Arab and Muslim. Their conduct was blatantly racist. Marriott and its affiliate, Fairfield Inn & Suites, must be held responsible for their employees’ discriminatory and dangerous acts.”

We'll keep you updated as the proceedings go on.

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