Napa Valley Wine Train Settles $11 Million ‘Laughing While Black’ Lawsuit

A contentious lawsuit, filed by women who accused the wine train of kicking them out for laughing, has been privately settled

Initially, Napa Valley Wine Train accused the women of being physically abusive against other passengers, but quickly retracted its statements.

An $11 million discrimination lawsuit against the Napa Valley Wine Train, which followed the polarizing expulsion of a group of women — 10 black and one white — from a train tour for laughing and talking too loudly, has been settled following private mediation with the company.

In August of last year, members of the Sistahs on the Reading Edge book club took part in a wineries tour with the company, were ejected for being “aggressive and unruly.” Facebook posts from Napa Valley Wine Train went so far as to accuse the women of being physically and verbally abusive against other passengers, though these posts were later deleted, and the company’s CEO issued a public apology.

The book club, meanwhile, accused Napa Valley Wine Train of racial discrimination, and public outcry over the matter led to the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack. Several people on social media shared stories of similar experiences of bias, particularly while traveling.

Lisa Johnson, a book club member who declined to share settlement details, nonetheless told the New York Times that the matter had been “resolved on terms acceptable to all parties last week.” The group plans to continue making annual trips to the Napa Valley, but will not be returning to the wine train.


 “I think we’re going to stick to limousines as our designated driver,” Johnson said.