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Models File Suit Against Denver Strip Club for Unauthorized Use of Image

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

StripClub 

On January 30, 2019, well-known model Carmen Electra, along with fellow models Lucy Pinder and Dessie Mitcheson, filed suit in Colorado federal court against Denver strip club, Shotgun Willie’s, alleging that the defendant violated the Lanham Act by using the plaintiffs’ images in club promotions. In the complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the club misappropriated their images on its social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and on the club’s website. The club allegedly used an image of Electra holding playing cards to promote a poker tournament, a photo of Mitchenson in a frog costume to promote a Pokemon-themed costume party and twice used a photo of Pinder in a general advertisement. Plaintiffs are not, and were never, employed by Shotgun Willies.

The plaintiffs claim that the defendant intentionally used their images in order to create a false impression that the models were affiliated with the club without attempting to gain permission to use the images or compensating the plaintiffs for the use of their images.

Electra is no stranger to the misappropriation of her image. In 2015, Electra sued a Florida nudist resort for using her image to promote “swinger” lifestyle events. The suit was settled in 2017 for an undisclosed amount. More recently, on January 3, 2019, a federal judge in New York ordered three New York City strip clubs to cease using Electra’s image without her consent.

The suit brings causes of action for violation of the Lanham Act, false advertising and false endorsement, violation of state common law misappropriation of likeness, violation of right to privacy and right to publicity. Plaintiffs seek compensatory, general, special, and consequential damages, including economic and noneconomic damages and reputational harm.

The case is: Pinder et al. v. Bavaria Inn Restaurant Inc., Case No.: 1:19-cv-00259 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

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