“Kiss ladies’ night goodbye”

Although the California Supreme Court ruled as long ago as 1985 that the state’s civil rights law prohibits “Ladies’ Night” discounts at bars, various San Diego taverns apparently hadn’t gotten the word. That created a perfect opening for Steven Surrey and Alfred Rava to make the rounds of nightspots in the county, demanding similar discounts for themselves and taking note when they were refused. The Unruh Civil Rights Act provides $4,000 fines for each violation plus “one-way” attorneys’ fee awards (pay if you are a losing defendant, collect nothing if you win). The next step was for lawyers to swoop down and obtain $20,000 settlements from six errant bar owners and $5,000 from a seventh that was going out of business. “One of the [complainants] is a California Western School of Law classmate of the two lawyers who filed the suits on their behalf. The other is a paralegal. When asked about the social merits of these lawsuits, Erik Jenkins, one of the attorneys who filed the suits, made comparisons between ladies night discounts and the discrimination faced by African-Americans in the South.” (Alex Roth, San Diego Union-Tribune, Aug. 3).

In other news of California bounty-hunting, the Long Beach Press-Telegram (Aug. 2) has editorially cited our editor’s recent WSJ op-ed in upbraiding local Assemblywoman Martha Escutia for advancing a measure that masquerades as reform of the state’s notorious section 17200 law but in fact would give lawyers even more scope to use it for shakedowns (see Jul. 28).

Addendum: Lest anyone doubt that highly entrepreneurial applications of section 17200 remain alive and well despite the downfall of the Trevor Law Group, John Sullivan at the Civil Justice Association of California reprints a recent letter (PDF) from a Bay Area law firm demanding $6500 in legal fees in exchange for not filing a 17200 lawsuit over an allegedly erroneous advertisement; the law firm does not claim to represent any clients injured by the ad, but does state that “A substantial percentage of this firm?s practice is devoted to prosecuting UCL violations.” (“17200 Abuses don’t stop with Trevor: Shakedowns Head North”, CJAC press release, Jul. 23)


  • Ladies Night at

    The fine folks at Overlawyered.com post here about the demise of ladies’ night at seven San Diego bars thanks to some civil rights lawyers who found males that were denied discounts offered to females pursuant to a “ladies’ night” discount….

  • LAW: Ladies’ Night

    Ah, the long arm of the law: did you know that bars in California can get sued for having “Ladies Night”?…

  • Where’s his Mother’s Day present?

    More entrepreneurial lawyering in California:A Los Angeles psychologist who was denied a tote bag during a Mother’s Day giveaway at an Angel game is suing the baseball team, alleging sex and age discrimination. Michael Cohn’s…