L.A. Jury Awards $6.5M to 249 Exotic Dancers

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Paradise Showgirls must pay $6.5 million to 249 exotic dancers who alleged the Los Angeles-area club illegally took tips they earned from lap dances, a jury decided today.

K.L. Myles, who represented lead plaintiff Quinece Hills in a class-action suit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, said club managers allegedly took $14 of the $40 the dancers obtained from lap dances and $100 of the cash the performers obtained for "VIP dances'' that involved longer sessions with customers in a private room.

Hills, who danced under the name “Sparkle,” filed the suit in May 2010 and the plaintiffs, dancers who performed at Paradise Showgirls from May 2006 to the present, will divide the settlement pending any appeal, Myles told Fox News.

Paradise Showgirls’ attorney, Ernest Franceschi, said that the award was about half of what the plaintiffs sought. He said there likely would be an appeal and that it may be years before many of the constitutional issues are resolved.

He told Fox News that Paradise Showgirls, located in the City of Industry, about 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is entitled to take portions of the entertainers’ money earned as the cost of renting small spaces at the club to perform private dances.

A jury disagreed with Franceschi’s assessment, perhaps swayed by the fact that state law allows entertainers of private dances to treat money directly obtained from customers as gratuities.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Rosenblatt later will decide whether to issue an injunction against Paradise Showgirls to stop the practice of collecting portions of the adult entertainers’ tips.