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Friday, April 20, 2007

Suing for a Lap Dance

A quadriplegic man sues a Florida strip club for failing to provide a handicapped-accessible "lap dance" area.

Lap Dancing Location Leads to Lawsuit

Edward Law, who has been a quadriplegic since a diving accident in 1987, visited the Wildside Adult Sports Cabaret, a strip club in West Palm Beach, Florida, in May and June of 2002. A month later, he sued the club in U.S. District Court. He claimed it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because the room reserved for "lap dances" was inaccessible to the disabled. Law claims that the stage where dancers perform is too high and blocks the view from his wheelchair.

In order to get a lap dance, Law did not have to sue the club. Bret Rudowsky, Wildside's general manager, said that because of Law's disability, he would have allowed Law to receive erotic private time with a dancer in other areas of the bar. Before the lawsuit was filed, Rudowsky had never received a complaint from a disabled customer.

Steve Howells of the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities believes that lawsuits should be one of the last resorts used to resolve ADA-related complaints. If a disabled person is unsatisfied with a business' accommodations, Howells says, individuals should complain to the management. Had Law done this, the club would have complied with his request. Instead, Law hired Anthony Brady, Jr., a lawyer who has sued more than 100 companies for ADA violations, to represent him in court. They filed a lawsuit requesting compliance with the law as well as an unspecified amount of money in attorney's fees. Since the only difference between what could be done in and out of court is money, suspicion was raised that the lawsuit was more about personal gain than protecting the rights of the disabled. Law also filed a lawsuit against another West Palm Beach strip club, the Landing Strip. Both of Law's suits were voluntarily dismissed in 2002.

In response to these and other ADA-related lawsuits, including a high-profile suit filed against a hotel owned by actor/director Clint Eastwood, the ADA Notification Act was introduced in February 2003 and reintroduced in June 2005. The bill would require a person to contact a business and explain how it violated the ADA's accessibility provisions before filing a lawsuit. The business would then have 90 days to correct the violation before a lawsuit can be filed.

Sources: Adult Industry News (July 15, 2002), Ragged Edge Online (July 22, 2002), Thethoughtpolice.com, The Washington Times (February 13, 2002)

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:59 PM

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