Disabled Patron Sues Strip Clubs

Disabled Patron Sues Strip Clubs

July 15, 2002|By Jon Burstein Staff Writer

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A quadriplegic who says he can’t get into a West Palm Beach strip club’s lap-dancing room has made a federal case out of it. Adult-entertainment enthusiast Edward Law filed a lawsuit last month against Wildside Adult Sports Cabaret, alleging a lack of handicap access to the room violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Orlando man should be afforded the same degree of privacy when he gets a lap dance as everyone else, argues his attorney, Anthony Brady Jr. The only access to the lap-dancing room is up a short flight of stairs. The room is ringed with plush chairs where patrons sit while strippers ply their trade. In addition, the counter around the stage where dancers gyrate for tips is too high, blocking Law’s view from his wheelchair and making it difficult for him to place a drink on it, Brady said. “This is an industry that is high profit and knows about ADA and is ignoring it,” Brady said. “I have no sympathy for them violating ADA.” Law is seeking an unspecified amount of money in attorney’s fees and is demanding the club come into compliance with ADA standards. Law brought the lawsuit after visiting the strip club on May 9 and June 14. He also visited another West Palm Beach strip club those two days — The Landing Strip — and has also brought a lawsuit against its owners.Both lawsuits allege the strip clubs have bathrooms that violate ADA standards and lack the required number of parking spaces for the disabled. Reached at his home, Law refused to comment on either of the lawsuits, saying, “I’m not in position to say anything. I’m not getting involved.” Bret Rudowsky, Wildside’s general manager, said that before the lawsuit he never heard any complaints from disabled customers. Brady didn’t contact the club with accessibility concerns before bringing the lawsuit. “I don’t understand that if you had a problem why you wouldn’t express it to the manager rather than just file a lawsuit,” Rudowsky said. If Law wanted a lap dance, he could get it in several other areas inside the club, Rudowsky said. Brady contends, though, that getting a lap dance in areas where many of the club’s patrons could watch is the equivalent of being forced to go to the bathroom in public. He said one way to remedy the problem might be to create a partitioned area accessible to the disabled. But he said that if the lap-dancing room was built after 1990 when all new businesses were required to comply with ADA, a ramp should be built. In addition to the strip clubs, Law has recently filed ADA lawsuits against a few other businesses — including an Orlando restaurant and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle shop in Daytona Beach, Brady said. Steve Howells, a director of the nonprofit group Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, said that in instances where a business is accused of ADA violations, a lawsuit should be one of the last resorts. If a disabled person has problems with a business, they should notify the management and see if accommodations can be made. “Probably the [strip] club could rearrange things for this guy in advance so he could get the same program [as everyone else],” Howells said. Brady said Law simply wants the strip clubs to be accessible to all. Even though Law is from Orlando, he regularly visits Palm Beach County where he enjoys the “entertainment scene” a lot more, Brady said. Rudowsky said that until Law filed his lawsuit, he never heard of a case where someone sued over access to lap dances.

You are in the jury. Do some research on American Disabilities Act. Which group adheres to the tenets of the law? Defend your position.

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