I suppose what Steve George is trying to say in his lawsuit filed Thursday that alleges his lifetime membership from the Balboa Bay Club was wrongfully revoked is that because John Wayne, Alexis Bellino and other noteworthy folks engaged in boozy behavior that did not get them tossed from the tony private club and condos in Newport Beach, he should not have been disciplined either.
But George, described as a successful local businessman, has added legal weight beyond breach of contract, arguing that the club violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act because he suffers from a medical disability.
The suit filed in Orange County Superior Court by Brian J. McCormack of Callahan & Blaine in Santa Ana claims that the June 21 incident at the center of George's lost membership came as the result of being prescribed painkillers for a broken arm and being over-served alcohol by BBC bartenders.
Some kind of confrontation with staff ensued. (Officials or lawyers with the BBC could not be reached for comment.) George alleges he was kicked out of the club without warning and "slandered" by staff who claimed he had gotten into a physical fight because he was drunk. George claims his behavior was due more to the painkillers than the alcohol.
But the juiciest parts of his suit involve his allegations that BBC bartenders are trained to over-serve members alcohol and to look the other way at bad boozy behavior. Among those cited is deceased member John Wayne, who was obviously known to throw back a few (dozen?) but who George claims was unruly at the BBC as well.
George also singles out the infamous Fourth of July 2010 party at the BBC, where a dual stroller carrying two toddlers of then-Real Housewives of Orange County cast member Bellino rolled into the swimming pool. The lawsuit cites stories that circulated at the time–and were disputed by Jim and Alexis Bellino–that they were knocking back drinks and not paying attention to their children when the incident happened.
"The club's lifeguard sprinted over to pull the stroller out of the pool with both girls strapped inside,'' the lawsuit alleges. "J.B. [Jim Bellino] heard the commotion while at the bar taking shots, and ran over to assist the lifeguard. After the children were safely out of the pool, J.B. screamed at the lifeguard as if she were to blame for A.B.'s [Alexis Bellino] and J.B.'s inattention. Rather than thank the lifeguard for saving the lives of his children, J.B. took out his anger on the lifeguard and criticized her for pulling the stroller out of the pool instead of jumping into the water to push the stroller."
Another unnamed couple were known to have sex in BBC restrooms and other areas, according to the suit, which claims the club encouraged a culture of alcohol debauchery. "These incidents by other members have been met with little or no consequences or discipline by the BBC," writes McCormack in an announcement of the suit being filed.
"As stated in the complaint, George has been a model member of the BBC who has helped to recruit new members, made his yachts available to the BBC, and who has charitably supported the BBC with his time and money. Yet, when George suffered an unforeseen adverse reaction to medication prescribed to treat his disability, the BBC's owners and managers used the one time incident (and George's disability) as a pretext to discriminate against George …"
The club is accused of having "no tolerance for disability" and of being particularly harsh to George, who besides losing his lifetime membership is claimed to have had his yachts evicted from the club marina and been banned from stepping foot on club property, even that which the club is required to keep open to the public. All of this was simply due to George's medical disability, according to the complaint.
Owners and managers of the BBC are accused of having violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws because they treated George differently based on his disability, to have attempted to cover up the discrimination and to have launched "a smear campaign to defame George's good name," McCormack states.
May I also file an amicus brief stating, based on the last Orange County Press Club Awards' thrown-together post-party, that a certain BBC bartender pours a lousy Old Fashioned?