MANHATTAN (CN) - Several Empire State strip clubs are under fire for using photos of a Real Housewives of Miami star, a half a dozen Playboy Playmates and seven other professional models to trick clientele into thinking the celebs stripped there.
The two federal complaints, filed Tuesday in New York's Southern and Eastern districts, accuse Flashdancers, Private Eyes and New York Dolls, all in Manhattan, as well as Cafe Royale, in East Farmingdale, of illegally publishing the models' images on their promotional materials and social media.
The suits say the strip clubs and their CEOs infringed on trademarks and violated fair trade practices, all in an effort to deceive customers for their own financial gain.
The 14 plaintiffs, who reside in California, Texas and Florida, allege the unauthorized pictures were altered in ways to give the false impression they endorsed or worked at the establishments, when they don't and never have.
For example, according to the Eastern District complaint, the Cafe Royale promotion features Joanna Krupa, the "Real Housewives of Miami" and "Dancing with the Stars" personality, topless and "in nothing more than a thong and boots." Above her is written "Thank God I am so fabulous!" and beside her the copy reads "Come to Cafe Royale and see why I am so Fabulous! TGIF!!"
According to the Southern District suit, a New York Dolls Facebook post promoting its Super Bowl parties show swimsuit and lingerie model Heather Rae Young in a "sexually suggestive football uniform" with text that says "Come party with us all Super Bowl week ... Get ready for the big game with our gorgeous entertainers in their favorite football jerseys ... We look forward to partying with you!"
These false and misleading advertisements constitute defamation, the plaintiffs say.
"[S]aid publication falsely accuses each Plaintiff of having acted in a manner - i.e., working as a stripper and/or endorsing a strip club - which would subject each Plaintiff to hatred, shame ... or disgrace," the complaints say.
The plaintiffs are represented by John Golaszewski of the Casas Law Firm in Manhattan. They seek punitive damages and an order barring the strip clubs from using their pictures.
55 Murray Enterprises Inc. and 109 Restaurant Corp., which run the defendant strip clubs, could not be reached for comment.
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