A federal lawsuit by a former Maine resident against a waterfront restaurant in Portland alleging racial discrimination and poor treatment by the wait staff has been settled.

RyiSHisa Morris, who is black and Native American, sued Boone’s Fish House over an incident that occurred in February 2015 in which she alleged that she and a large group of friends made reservations at Boone’s to celebrate her birthday.

Attorneys filed a notice Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland that a settlement agreement had been reached. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Morris’s attorney, David Webbert, declined to comment on the apparent settlement, and did not make his client available for an interview. Messages left for Morris on Friday went unreturned.

Attorney Carol I. Eisenberg, who represents the restaurant owner, also did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Morris alleged that during her celebratory dinner, her party of about 20 diverse people received “second-class service,” were referred to as “the black party” and were later asked to leave the restaurant. She said the incident led her to relocate to Massachusetts from South Portland.


Harding Lee Smith, who owned Boone’s when he was interviewed in 2017, the year the lawsuit was filed, denied that any discrimination occurred and said the group had become intoxicated, the restaurant refused to serve them more drinks and they were asked to leave. The restaurant is now owned by Darcy Smith O’Neil.

Morris filed a discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, but in August 2017 the board voted 4-0 against her and determined that the allegations of discrimination were unfounded.

Smith said in 2017 that before Morris filed suit, she sent him a letter asking for $85,000 in exchange for not filing a lawsuit.

Morris has sued for discrimination in Maine twice before.

In 2007, she sued Regis, which operates a hair salon in the Maine Mall in South Portland, after working there for a day. Morris said she was fired for pointing out what she said was a discriminatory practice. She and Regis settled the case, but the terms were not disclosed.

In 2012, she was awarded $100,000, plus $23,000 for legal fees and interest, after she said she was denied service because of her race at the Zales jewelry store-owned Piercing Pagoda in the Maine Mall.


In that case, the Maine Human Rights Commission determined that Morris had been the victim of illegal discrimination. Zale Delaware Inc. appealed the ruling, but the appeal was denied.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:


Twitter: MattByrnePPH


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 7:05 p.m. on Feb. 23, 2019, to correct the current ownership of Boone’s Fish House.

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