A Florida man who won a $650,000 judgment against a stripper may have had a stronger case than others in which strip club patrons have sued over being injured by the errant footwear of dancers.
The judgment filed Oct. 6 compensates Michael Ireland for the injuries he suffered in September 2008 when Sakeena “Suki” Shageer, a dancer at the Cheetah's club in West Palm Beach, kicked him in the eye, leaving him with chronic double vision. He sued Shageer and the club's owner, Casablanca East, for negligence in May 2009.
Shageer, a native of England, has said she was reacting to being “smacked” on the “bum” by a patron as she walked along the bar, with her feet near patrons' heads, collecting tips. But Ireland denied ever touching her and Casablanca's liability insurer agreed to the judgment the week before the case was scheduled for trial.
Ireland's attorney, Lake H. Lytal, III (Lytal & Reiter, West Palm Beach), says the club has insurance coverage up to $1 million. “The final outcome proves that this insurance company finally acknowledged this was a serious case with very serious injuries that their insured, Ms. Shageer, is responsible for,” he tells On Point.
It was also a case with perhaps clearer liability than those in which strip club patrons have sued over being injured by flying footwear while a dancer was performing on stage or performing a lap dance. Yusuf Evans, for example, alleged he was struck in the face when an employee of the XTC club of Akron, Ohio, “while performing a dance on stage lost her boot in a forceful kicking motion.”
Since the injury occurred in the course of a dancer's gyrations, XTC argued that Evans “assumed the risk of engaging in the alleged entertainment” — much as a baseball spectator might assume the risk of being injured by a foul ball.
Shageer's kick, though, was not part of a performance, making an assumption of risk defense more tenuous. She told The Palm Beach Post that she reacted instinctively, spinning around and striking out with the heel of her platform shoe, after Ireland, who was sitting at the bar, slapped her hard on the buttocks.
“I don't know exactly what I was trying to do,” she said. “Perhaps to let him know 'Don't do that.'”
Another recent case involved a patron of the aptly-named Booby Trap club in Pompano Beach, Fla. Charles Privette claimed he was watching a pole-dancing routine when one of the dancer's "high-heeled shoes flew up in the air and struck the mirrored glass ceiling[,] causing the mirror to shatter and fall onto Plaintiff."
Privette's alleged injuries — a small laceration to his eyebrow, headaches and nose bleeds — were relatively minor. And liability would have been difficult to show because the flying shoe was not the direct cause of the injuries.
In a lap dance case, New York investment banker Stephen Chang sued the Hot Lap Dance Club in March 2008, alleging that a stripper “suddenly swung around, striking [him] in the eye with the heel of her shoe.”
Court records show the Evans case was settled in May — after the XTC club countersued the plaintiff for filing a frivolous action and defamation. The dispositions of the Privette and Chang cases are not available.
An Indianapolis man filed an errant footwear suit against a strip club Feb. 23, 2011, alleging he was struck in the face by a stripper's shoe. Quagliaroli v. PT's Showclub.
By Matthew Heller