CHICAGO (CN) – Carmen Electra and dozens of other models sued a Chicago strip club on Thursday, claiming it used their photos in advertisements without permission to promote the club online.
The women allege AEG Ventures LLC dba Atlantis Gentlemen’s Club’s use of their photos, likenesses and identities to advertise, promote and market the club on websites and social media violates the Lanham Act and the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.
“Defendant is an unapologetic, chronic, and habitual infringer. Defendant never sought consent or authority to use any of the plaintiffs’ images for any purpose. No Plaintiff ever agreed, nor would any plaintiff have agreed, to defendant’s use of her image, likeness, and/or identity,” according to the 389-page lawsuit filed Thursday in Chicago federal court.
The models, represented by lead attorney Joseph Casas in San Diego, seek actual and punitive damages, along with an order permanently enjoining Atlantis from using their images and identities to promote the strip club.
They say an arms-length negotiation could have taken place regarding the terms and conditions of use of their images however, the company pirated the images and did not ask permission.
Plaintiff Carmen Electra, whose real name is Tara Leigh Patrick, is a famous American model, TV personality, singer and dancer.
She has appeared in films such as “Scary Movie,” “Good Burger,” “Uptown Girls” and “Starsky & Hutch,” as well as numerous versions of the TV show “Baywatch.”
“On January 22, 2013, Electra’s image was uploaded to Atlantis’s Facebook page with intent to promote and market Atlantis strip club,” the lawsuit states. “The caption next to the image of Electra advertised, ‘Atlantis Gentlemen’s Club.’ The use of this image falsely implied that Electra represents Atlantis strip club and that she authorized Atlantis to use her image for promotional and marketing purposes.”
The complaint also outlines how the other 29 plaintiffs’ photos, likenesses or identities were allegedly used without their consent to promote the club.
“Much more than merely a misuse in connection with an innocuous brand or event, defendant embarrassed plaintiffs by associating their images with Atlantis,” according to the lawsuit. “In the end, defendant gained an economic windfall by using the images of professional and successful models for defendant own commercial purposes, luring and enticing patrons worldwide to view the images and visit Atlantis, without having to compensate the models for such usage. Plaintiffs, however, sustained injury to their images, brands, and marketability by shear affiliation with Atlantis, [a strip] club.”
In addition to attorney Casas, the women are also represented by Vincent J. Ward of Freedman Boyd in Albuquerque, N.M.
AEG Ventures LLC opened the Atlantis strip club in 2008 as a “Vegas Style” venue with “elegant entertainers,” according to its Facebook page.
The company did not respond immediately to an email request for comment sent Friday.
Electra, 45, was also named as a plaintiff in three lawsuits against strip clubs filed in New York last year.