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DAYTONA BEACH, FL-Hoping to end a stream of bad publicity over alleged 1999 discrimination charges and avoid a January federal lawsuit, St. Louis-based Adam’s Mark Hotels & Resorts is agreeing to pay Florida’s black colleges and about 1,000 individual plaintiffs a total $1.1 million.

The settlement is the largest in hospitality industry annals, according to Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, one of the plaintiffs in a suit that has drawn unwanted international attention to theMissouri-based hotel organization.

The largest race discrimination settlement on record involving a commercial establishment is the $54.7 million Denny’s restaurant chain paid in 1994, according to Butterworth.

While agreeing to the settlement, Adam’s Mark denies a laundry list of allegations cited in lawsuits filed last year by the U.S. Justice Department, the Florida Attorney General, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and five African-American guests who stayed at the 300-room, 14-story Adam’s Mark hotel in Daytona Beach during Black College Reunion Week.

The suits allege the African-American guests were ordered to wear bright orange wrist bands while white guests were not told to do so. In court-filed pleas, the hotel management maintains the wrist bands were only a means of identifying black and white reunion guests from regular guests during the annual event which drew an estimated 10,000 visitors to the Daytona Beach area, according to published reports at the time.

The suits allege the hotel altered its room service menu for the African-American guests so that only fried chicken or barbecue items would be available. The suits also allege African American guests were charged more than white guests for comparable rooms; additional fees were charged African-Americans who wanted a hotel and refrigeratior in their rooms; and visitors could not go up to the African-American guests’ rooms.

The settlement deal gives $20,000 to each of the five plaintiffs in the first suit. About 1,000 other guests could each receive from $500 to $1,000, depending on the validity of their claims, according to the Florida Attorney General’s office.

Four black colleges will receive a total $600,000. Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL, gets $250,000; Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, $150,000; Edward Walters College, Jacksonville, FL and Florida Memorial College, Miami, $100,000 each.

Although Adam’s Mark is also agreeing to be monitored for an unspecified period by independent civil-rights investigative groups, the 24-hotel chain notes Project Equality of Missouri, a civil-rights investigator, found no evidence of race bias in a audit made last year.

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