Carmen Electra, models suing local strip club in federal court

Sharonville-born model and actress Carmen Electra and two other models are suing a local strip club for allegedly using their likenesses in online advertising, according to filings in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

Plaintiffs Electra, Jessica Hinton and Heather Rae Young all sued WCI Inc. — doing business as Cheeks in West Carrollton — seeking “damages and other relief arising from the misappropriation, misuse, and alteration of plaintiffs’ images” in a trademark infringement lawsuit.

The lawsuit is part of a trend of lawsuits by Electra and others against strip clubs across the country. Published reports said more than 50 clubs in at least eight states had been sued in federal courts as of November 2018.

The lawsuit against Cheeks claims that “in an effort to drive traffic and commercial benefits,” the club “used its websites and online social media marketing platforms, including Facebook, to market and advertise” its events and activities.

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The suit included exhibits of Electra’s image connected with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve events, Hinton’s image in ads for military-related promotions and Young’s in relation to St. Patrick’s Day.

The complaint said Cheeks used Electra’s image in select online ads and their website between November 2015 until December 2017, Hinton’s image between June 2015 and December 2018 and Young’s image in March 2017.

“At all times relevant to this complaint, defendant developed and instituted a policy of misappropriation, alteration, and publication of images (including plaintiffs’) on its web pages and social media platforms that it had not paid for, and to which it had no legal right, in order to promote” Cheeks.

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The Cincinnati-based attorney who filed the lawsuit didn’t immediately respond to an interview request.

A Dayton-area attorney who has represented Cheeks also didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The lawsuit points out that the models never performed or appeared at Cheeks nor negotiated with the club for the use of their images.

Damages sought for each plaintiff include interests and costs exceeding $75,000 — a boilerplate number in federal court filings.

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The filing said each plaintiff’s “career in modeling, acting, and private enterprise has value stemming from the goodwill and reputation they have built, all of which are critical to establishing a brand, being selected for jobs, and maximizing earnings.”

The complaint also states that each model “commands substantial sums of money for the licensed commercial use of their image and likeness.”

A formal response has not been filed by defendants. No court dates have been set in the case.

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