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Illegal slot machine operation at centre of wrongful death lawsuit

An illegal video slot machine operation in the US is allegedly at the centre of a wrongful death lawsuit filed on 16 November 2022.  

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The lawsuit alleges that the robbery and murder of a Hazelton, Pennsylvania convenience store clerk occurred because the property owner, gaming device maker and supplier, prioritised profits over the safety of the clerk. One defendant of this claim is Pace-O-Matic.  

This complaint was filed by Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky on behalf of the victim’s widow and her two daughters and son.

The murder victim – Ashokkumar Patel – who worked at a Sunoco-affiliated retailer, was employed at the store for just a week and was mopping the floor when he was fatally shot at close range by a gunman. 

The shooter has been confirmed as a local resident, drug dealer and frequent gambler on the store’s illegal slot machines. 

These machines were designed, manufactured and maintained by the defendants of the Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky complaint. 

The lawsuit accuses the property owner and game device maker of gross negligence and strict product liability that resulted from Patel’s death.  

Defendants include the Georgia-based Pace-O-Matic, Sunoco and Miele Manufacturing.  

These well-known gaming and manufacturing companies are accused of permitting an unsafe mini-casino in the retail store where Patel worked, without the security measures that communities expect from legal gaming operations.  

Larry Bendesky of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky said: "As noted in the complaint, these illegal gambling devices have a long and nefarious history in our commonwealth's criminal justice history as magnets for violent criminals looking for an easy score.  

“Suppliers know that the small stores that typically provide these slots are stocked with thousands of dollars to make instant cash payouts, lacking any of the necessary security measures to protect the low wage, front-line workers and customers.” 

“As a result, the combative, controversial industry that refers to these devices as 'skill games,' and their partners at gas stations and other small businesses unequipped to handle these operations, needs to be held accountable for what in this case was a killing machine."   

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