Dayton stripper’s case heads to Ohio Supreme Court Thursday

Dayton stripper’s case heads to Ohio Supreme Court Thursday
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Dayton stripper’s case heads to Ohio Supreme Court Thursday

The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday will consider the case of a Dayton stripper who got drunk at work, hopped behind the wheel and crashed on Interstate-70, causing severe injuries for a woman who was a passenger in the wreck.

The question is should the strip club be protected from liability under the Ohio Dram Shop Act? That law limits the liability of a liquor permit holder when an intoxicated patron causes harm.

Explore EARLIER COVERAGE: Strip club not liable for inuries, court rules

But the injured woman, Nichole Johnson, argues in her civil lawsuit that that law doesn’t apply when the intoxicated person is a worker at an establishment that makes money from encouraging customers to buy drinks for the strippers.

In July 2010, Mary Montgomery worked as a dancer at The Living Room, which is owned by Michael Ferraro. Strippers paid the club $30 a night to lease dance space and their only earnings were tips. Contract dancers weren’t required to drink while working, but most did, consuming 30 to 40 percent of the booze sold at the club, according to Ferraro’s testimony.

Explore EARLIER COVERAGE: Drunk strip club dancer changes woman’s life

Montgomery pled no contest to operating under the influence and to vehicular assault. Johnson suffered from a brain injury, broken bones, a collapsed lung, a lacerated liver and she underwent 11 surgeries.

Johnson was awarded $2.85 million for damages. The verdict was overturned by the 2nd District Court of Appeals and Johnson appealed to the Supreme Court.

Supporting Johnson’s side of the case is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Ohio Association for Justice and the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

The case is scheduled for oral arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday. The court is holding its session at Morgan County High School.