Attorney general drops claims against Tucson CC

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has dropped claims of discrimination against Tucson Country Club, according to court documents obtained by Golfweek.

On March 8, a complaint filed by Kenneth J. Costich II, a disabled Vietnam War veteran who claimed Tucson Country Club club violated his civil rights, was dismissed by Attorney General Tom Horne.

The ruling, issued by the Office of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, gave no explanation regarding any possible merits of Costich’s claim, other than indicating that “The Respondent” (Tucson Country Club) employs less than the required number of employees or is not otherwise covered by the statutes.”

Costich, an Army captain and company commander who served with the 1st Infantry Division in 1968-69 in Vietnam, received the Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart for his wounds. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Costich resigned his Tucson Country Club membership on March 1, 2010. His complaint alleged that he endured discrimination over a number of club matters (Golfweek, In the News, “Tucson Country Club faces second discrimination claim,” June 4, 2010).

Subsequent to the dismissal of his filing, Costich said he is considering his legal options as a member of the protected class under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

The finding parallels a decision by the Attorney General’s Office regarding two separate complaints filed by two female members of the club. Loretta Hunnicutt and Nena Ashton claimed gender discrimination with respect to a men’s-only grill room and access to tee times (Golfweek, In the News, “Gender-equity complaints focus on Tucson CC grill,” Feb. 19, 2010). The Attorney General’s Office similarly dismissed the applicability of state statute to those claims.

Don Beaver, the club’s general manager, said the attorney general’s dismissal followed extensive interviews and investigation by the Civil Rights Division vindicates the club’s contention that there was no basis for a discrimination claim against the club as a private entity.

Hunnicutt told Golfweek that she is considering appealing the decision based upon the argument that Tucson Country Club is operated as a public accommodation and thus is subject to state anti-discrimination statutes.

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