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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Strippers Settle Suit With Rick’s for $15M

MANHATTAN (CN) - Thousands of strippers represented in a class-action labor lawsuit against New York's Rick's Cabaret hope to end six years of protracted litigation by accepting a $15 million settlement.

Filed in 2009, the lawsuit's lead plaintiff Sabrina Hart fought on behalf of nearly 2,300 current and former dancers who graced the Midtown Manhattan strip club's stage.

U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer awarded the class $10.8 million late last year on three of the charges of the lawsuit, resolving minimum wage violations, unlawfully retained tips, and improper fees under state law.

That partial judgment, however, did not stop the court wrangling.

The club brought an interlocutory appeal to the 2nd Circuit, and the remaining claims still faced a trial.

On Wednesday, the women's lawyer Anna Prakash asked the judge to approve a settlement between the parties.

"The settlement agreement was reached on the eve of trial after almost six years of hard-fought litigation, full-blown discovery with over 30 depositions, including expert discovery, abundant motion practice including summary judgment on liability and damages, class certification, and pre-trial preparation including seventeen motions in limine," Prakash noted in a memorandum.

A four-week trial had been slated to start on April 27.

"Given the itinerancy and general makeup of the class," there are "fraud-protection measures" in place to prevent the wrong people from claiming their checks, Prakash wrote.

Her co-counsel Michelle Drake, also from the firm Nichols Kaster, said in a statement that she was "pleased to have reached a fair and reasonable resolution of this matter."

"This litigation has involved a number of hotly contested legal battles," she noted. "Had we not settled, trial and appeal would have been next and any recovery would have been even further delayed. The settlement will provide substantial and immediate relief to the dancers and we believe it is in the best interest of the class."

A lawyer for Rick's Cabaret did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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