ABC News files a report on a sector of litigation we’ve covered extensively over the years:
Tim Gleason, general manager of the China Club in New York, calls [attorney Roy Den] Hollander’s complaint “pathetic” and echoes other club owners who argue that the discounts actually help both sexes by balancing out the ratio between men and women….
“Ladies’ Night benefits the men as much as it benefits the ladies, the clubs and society,” said John Juliano, owner of the recently closed Copacabana Nightclub. “And the only loser here is this grouch with a warped point of view.”
GWU lawprof and inveterate publicity hound John Banzhaf, whose “suing for credit” course has generated one such suit, gets a mention too. (Brittany Bacon, “‘Ladies’ Night’ Lawsuits on the Rocks?”, Jul. 25; 239 reader comments so far). More: Lat, Jul. 30.
“Ladies’ night” at the local tavern — sometimes it’s every night; sometimes it’s during certain hours — the idea is, the more females in the establishment, the better the “atmosphere” for the guys who pay for all the drinks anyway. So there’s no cover charge for women, or free drinks, or whatever. (Okay, so some of us don’t know so much about how bars work.) The point is it’s an economic calculation that no one really complains about because, after all, the guys like a nice “atmosphere.” Of course, lots of us have wondered if it’s really legal that girl elbow-benders don’t pay and boys do, but no one really thought it was something anyone was going to kvetch a court about.
New York attorney Roy Den Hollander, a solo practitioner for more than 15 years who deals primarily with civil litigation and corporate governance, has filed a class action against certain Manhattan nightclubs for “invidious discrimination” against men in their policies for admitting patrons….
“Whether this case succeeds or fails,” says Hollander, “it will result in a much needed victory for men.”
Mm, and how would that be, exactly? Seems from here that the exact opposite is probably the case — if it fails, well, how is that a victory except in the sense that nothing happening to you, and living another day so you can drink another Sam Adams is a victory? And if the case succeeds, probably fewer women will go to bars.
Unless, perhaps, you’re like Roy Den Hollander, and prefer drinking alone, or otherwise without having to wait for the distaff-side customers to be served sooner. Or cheaper. Or less burdensomely. Maybe Roy Den Hollander just doesn’t appreciate “atmosphere.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
- RIP, Ladies Nights in Denver [Denver Westword; earlier Feb. 12; earlier i in California: Jun. 7, Aug. 19, Aug. 2003; and New Jersey, Jun. 2004]
- “A cop sues McDonalds because of the slimy stuff a couple of teens put in his sandwich. His biggest problem may be that he didn’t even take a bite” [Turkewitz]
- Montana Supreme Court: hunter can’t blame state for being attacked by bear [On Point]
- Don’t: provide your criminal client with means to escape [Fulton County Daily Report]; alter documents responsive to discovery requests [The Recorder]; hide evidence in multi-billion dollar insurance litigation [NY Sun via Lattman]; or videotape your fellow lawyers changing clothes [ATL].
- Reason #473 why I live in Virginia instead of DC: DC police catch two in middle of attempted burglary, just after being released from prison, decide to let them go because they can’t figure out what to charge them with. Good thing residents aren’t allowed to own guns to defend themselves, right? [PTN]
Last week, the California Supreme Court handed down yet another victory for abusive “antidiscrimination” litigation, ruling in favor of a California attorney who makes a business out of suing legitimate businesses for violations of California’s absurdly broad Unruh antidiscrimination law. Marc Angelucci and three of his fellow travelers sued the Century Supper Club, a nightclub, for charging women less than men on several occasions in 2002; although two lower courts found reasons to rule against them, the California Supreme Court ruled that their claims had merit. (Court decision: PDF)
Unfortunately, as a matter of law the Court is right. The Unruh law is written ridiculously, and it has no exception for bogus plaintiffs. (What’s the big deal? Just this: Unruh provides for a minimum of $4,000 damages, plus attorney’s fees, for successful plaintiffs, thus providing an incentive for Angelucci to turn an anti-Ladies’ Night crusade into a career. Even the California court recognized that its interpretation of the law improperly rewarded “professional plaintiffs and bounty-hunting attorneys,” but it (correctly) held that rewriting laws is for the legislature, not the courts.
Oh, and one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in this case? Our old friend, Morse Mehrban. (Most recently covered: Apr. 17, and see links therein.) Mehrban and Angelucci have teamed up on these cases many times before.
This priceless segment ran on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day (Feb. 9). John Oliver interviews a Colorado man who’s filed bias complaint over “Ladies’ Night” bar promotions, and who insists — like so many other unintentionally silly litigants — that his cause deserves to share the moral high ground of the civil rights movement (“Sexual Stealing”).
Multi-billion dollar (and down) extortion edition:
- Merrill Lynch and CSFB appeal extortionate Enron class-action certification. [Point of Law; AEI (Feb. 9); WLF brief]
- More on the extortionate and lawless $500 billion Wal-Mart class certification. [Point of Law]
- Mississippi Supreme Court rejects extortionate medical monitoring class actions. [Behrens @ WLF]
- Lawyer Daniel Hynes tries to extort $2000 from New Hampshire bar holding Ladies’ Night. [Foster’s Daily Democrat (h/t B.C.)]
- Colorado Civil Justice League stops legislative attempt at giveaway to local trial lawyers. [Point of Law]
- Wisconsin court: family can be sued for babysitter’s car accident when returning home from dropping off child. [AP/Insurance Journal]
- Fox seeks to dismiss Borat suit on anti-SLAPP grounds. [Hollywood Reporter Esq. via WSJ Law Blog]
- Passaic County jury: $28M for “wrongful birth.” [NorthJersey.com]
- Former AG (and Dem) Griffin Bell: “Judicial Leadership Emerging In Asbestos And Silica Mass Torts” [WLF]
- Utah legislature considering med-mal reform for ERs. “Neurosurgeons in this town have to pay over $90,000 a year just for the privilege of getting out of bed on a Friday night to drain the blood from the brain of a victim of a drunk driver crash. And they say, I’m not gonna do it. Because the patients are sicker. The procedures are sometimes more invasive and more risky with more complications. Why take that risk if they don’t have to?” [KCPW via Kevin MD; Provo Herald]
- A little-read blog promoting a soon-to-be-pulped fictional account of tort reform is really begging for a link from us, what with three out of the last five posts making amateurish (and often false) personal attacks on this site’s authors or soliciting others to also fling poo. No dice.
Regarding Walter’s post below, I’d just like to point out that the judge probably had no choice in declining to dismiss the lawsuit. Indeed, the plaintiffs may very well win.
What is often overlooked (but not by Walter) is that California has a monstrous law called the “Unruh Act” that specifically authorizes such a cause of action for what most people consider harmless, de minimis gender-based discrimination.
I’ve heard that there are California law firms that specialize in Unruh claims. I can remember back in high school watching Judge Wapner of “The People’s Court” arbitrate an Unruh claim over a “Ladies’ Night” at a California bar — the male plaintiff won.
So, we are dealing here not with a frivolous lawsuit, but with a frivolous law. Passed by frivolous politicians.
To whom, for some reason, judges are supposed to show great deference. Go figure.
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 class-action claim in Orange County Superior Court alleges that thousands of males and fans under 18 were “treated unequally” at a “Family Sunday” promotion last May and are entitled to $4,000 each in damages.
(Dave McKibben, “L.A. Psychologist Who Didn’t Get Tote Bag at Mother’s Day Angel Game Files Lawsuit”, Los Angeles Times, May 11). Cohn’s attorney is Alfred Rava, who (as the L.A. Times really should have found out by Googling Overlawyered, if not its own archives) was among the key figures in the 2003 spree by which owners of San Diego nightspots were hit up for handsome cash settlements for having held “Ladies’ Night” promotions. The Unruh Act, California’s distinctively liberal civil rights statute, allows complainants to demand $4,000 a pop for such misdeeds, and it’s no defense to suggest that the customer’s primary reason for getting involved in the underlying transaction may have been to set up the $4,000 entitlement. More: “Lex Icon” wishes to make clear that he’s not the kind of lawyer who files cases like this (May 13).
A ban on the charging of different prices for men’s and women’s services, a bad idea already enacted in California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Miami and New York City, may soon be the law in Ontario if pending legislation is approved. One supporter thinks it’s unfair for hairdressers to charge more for women’s cuts than men’s, and it’s apparently beside the point that most women’s cuts are more complicated and take longer to perform. Ditto with women’s clothes at dry cleaners, which are less standardized and more likely to require individualized handling. Of course many discounts run in favor of women purchasers, most notably auto insurance for younger drivers; no word on whether Ontario legislators are hoping to defy actuarial realities on that front. (Christl Dabu, “For Canadian women, that haircut may soon get cheaper”, Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 10 — note the headline, whose counter-version about haircuts for men getting more expensive probably never stood a chance of running). For reports on legal action aimed at bar’s “Ladies’ Night” promotions, see Aug. 4, 2003 and Jun. 10, 2004.