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Trial under way in Hotel Shangri-La discrimination case

(JTA) — A trial involving a group of young Los Angeles-area Jews accusing a hotel of discrimination has begun.

The plaintiffs, including more than a dozen young adults affiliated with the nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, are claiming that Tehmina Adaya, the owner of the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, Calif., discriminated against them. On July 11, 2010, the plaintiffs say, Adaya abruptly ended a pool party that had been approved by members of the hotel’s management in advance, the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reported.

In his opening statement July 26, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, James Turken said he will make the case that Adaya became "exceedingly" angry when she learned that an event at the hotel was organized by a Jewish group, the paper reported.

The plaintiffs have charged Adaya and the hotel with multiple violations, including discrimination, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, according to the paper. 

Defense attorney John Levitt, however, said that while members of FIDF’s Young Leadership group thought that they had arranged for the party, no agreement had been made with the hotel’s management.

Adaya — a Pakistani-born Muslim who for a time lived in a predominantly Jewish sorority house at the University of California at Los Angeles, according to Levitt — allegedly yelled something to the effect of "Get these expletive Jews out of my pool," on the day in question, the Journal reported.

The jury trial is expected to last two weeks.

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