ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The Adam's Mark hotel chain sued the NAACP Friday, claiming the civil rights organization's call for a boycott was illegal.
Within hours, Fred Kummer, Adam's Mark chief, and Kweisi Mfume, NAACP president, were talking by telephone and working to reach an out-of-court settlement, said Sharon Harvey Davis, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based hotel chain. She said the two men agreed to talk again Monday.
Mfume, however, issued a biting statement indicating no settlement was in sight.
``This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to stifle the voice of the NAACP and others engaged in legitimate public criticism of this company's discriminatory practices, and we will vigorously defend against it,'' he said.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Only July 11, at the NAACP annual convention in New Orleans, Mfume said:
''It is time for all of our membership, and quite frankly all Americans of good conscience to stop giving Adam's Mark their money or their business,'' Mfume said at the meeting.
The Baltimore-based NAACP and Adam's Mark have been at odds for at least two years. In 1999 five guests sued the chain, saying the Daytona Beach, Fla., hotel labeled them security risks by requiring them _ but not white guests _ to wear orange wristbands during the Black College Reunion.
They also claimed black reunion guests were required to pay cash in full to reserve rooms and charged more than other guests.
The Justice Department filed a separate suit, suggesting a pattern of discrimination, and reached an agreement with the hotel under which the chain's employees received diversity training. Adam's Mark admitted no wrongdoing in reaching the settlement, which ended an earlier boycott.
In October, a federal judge threw out the $8 million settlement.