Tag Archives: Las Vegas lawsuits

Cathouse Management in Las Vegas in One Doozy of Vicious Legal Catfight

A recent article in the Las Vegas Sun details the lawsuit that CatHouse (in the Luxor) partner Seth Yudof and his company, Creative Eyes LLC, filed in Clark County District Court against companies and individuals involved in the CatHouse at the Luxor hotel-casino, including himself. The suit asks for a court order accounting of the finances of the CatHouse and that a receiver be appointed to preserve the property, capital and assets controlled by the defendants. The defendants include Heptagon LLC, Heptagon Trading LLC, Heptagon Holdings LLC, Billy Cross, Nick Landazuri, Mick Doohan, and Yudof who is the managing member of one of the companies he and Creative Eyes are suing. 

Creative Eyes and Yudof claim a breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy related to an alleged consulting agreement between Creative Eyes and one of the CatHouse companies. The 2007 agreement with Heptagon Trading was for creative and entertainment direction for the club. It continues stating that Creative Eyes was to be paid a consulting fee of $100,000 per year and given a 7.5 percent membership interest in Heptagon LLC. The suit claims that Yudof and Cross were supposed to jointly manage Heptagon LLC. The suit also claims that Cross in 2008 negotiated a $250,000 loan from the Luxor, without the knowledge of Yudof. 

It continues to state that last September, Creative Eyes’ biweekly checks dropped from $3,846 to $2,000 and that Yudof was denied access to the books, records, vendor lists and other documents of Heptagon LLC’s operating agreement. Along with claims of being threatened, intimidated and bullied by Cross and Landazuri, the suit charges that the defendants have used Yudof’s Social Security number and personal information to engage in transactions … which were not disclosed to plaintiffs. “The defendants … even went so far as to change the locks at the CatHouse … and informed the employees that Yudof was not to be left unsupervised in the venue.” The complaint also states that certain members are now attempting to liquidate Heptagon LLC without giving Yudof the right of first refusal to buy their membership shares, even though he has offered to buy out the other interests in the business for $2.4 million. 

Luxor executives supposedly have shown the CatHouse property to potential new suitors, saying it is available for lease.  No takers as of yet.   But rumors are flying that Vegas deal maker Jack Wishna is now in the picture with an offer to purchase The Cathouse and open other like venues in other location outside of Vegas. 

The CatHouse supposedly also recently banned Cris Angel from the property after he was suspected of daring a female patron dis-robe for $100.

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Las Vegas Street Performers Ready Courtroom Act

It the not too distant past it was a common and welcome sight to see street performers performing their shtick along the Las Vegas Strip, serving as eye and ear candy for weary travelers traversing the Sin City byways in searing heat.  

Now the historic forms of grass roots entertainment have largely diminished, if not totally disappeared from the Las Vegas landscape. 

But the times may be changing. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against police and public officials on behalf of two Las Vegas Strip street performers after one was arrested in March. 

ACLU lawyer Maggie McLetchie says the federal lawsuit was filed last Thursday on behalf of guitarist Suze Banasik and Elvis Presley impersonator Bill Jablonski to support free speech and free expression rights for street performers on the resort-lined Strip. street

The 45-year-old Banasik was jailed for 12 hours on obstructing a sidewalk and operating a business without a license charges before Clark County prosecutors dropped the charges. 

The ACLU has fought and won similar First Amendment battles for handbill distributors, political activists and street preachers on the Strip and at the downtown Fremont Street Experience casino mall. 

“They think each new type of expression they can suppress, and we have to go to court for each of those, and the results are always the same,” Las Vegas ACLU attorney Allen Lichtenstein said. 

The new lawsuit accuses Las Vegas police of harassing street performers, also known as buskers, on the Strip.  The lawsuit names the Metropolitan Police Department, Sheriff Doug Gillespie and three other Las Vegas police officers, Clark County, District Attorney David Roger and Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as defendants. 

ACLU attorney Maggie McLetchie said her group accepted the case “because street performers have free speech rights and the right to free expression, including on the Strip.” 

“Cases that were litigated have made clear that the sidewalks on the Las Vegas Strip are a public forum,” she said. “Despite this fact, we received a number of complaints from street performers that Metro was telling them they couldn’t perform.” 

Banasik and Jablonski both said they entertain tourists simply for the joy of it. They consider any tips they receive a bonus. 

ACLU attorneys say case law protects the performers’ activities even if they solicit money. 

“Lots of cases make clear that the only thing you could really limit is aggressive panhandling,” McLetchie said. 

Lichtenstein said such harassment has a “chilling effect” that keeps other performers away out of a fear that they will be cited or arrested. 

“For well over a decade, there’s been this attempt to make the sidewalks up and down Las Vegas Boulevard on the Strip the private domain of the hotel-casinos and their interests,” Lichtenstein said. “And the fact that the police continue to think that it’s more important to serve those interests rather than to protect the rights of free speech on those sidewalks as ordered by federal courts is disheartening.”

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Las Vegas Adult Entertainment Club Class Action Lawsuit Claims Taxi, Limo Company Extortion, Illegal Kickbacks

A class action lawsuit filed on June 2 alleges a wide-ranging extortion scheme involving Las Vegas’ most prominent adult entertainment clubs and taxi and limousine companies.  The suit, which was filed in federal court in Las Vegas, alleges that taxi and limousine companies extorted more than $40 million in illegal kickbacks from local strip clubs.   

According to the legal complaint, Las Vegas taxi and limousine drivers demanded payments from the clubs of as much as $100 per male passenger.  If the clubs refused to pay, the drivers would simply divert passengers to a different club. The lawsuit claims that the kickback scheme hurts Las Vegas at a time when the city is already suffering economically.   

“Vegas has been one of the top tourist destinations in America for families, but its position is being threatened,” says Jay Edelson, lead attorney for the lawsuit.  “This is precisely the type of activity that keeps families away.” 

As taxi drivers prefer to pick up men who are more likely to go to strip clubs, the suit claims that families and women were snubbed by drivers and found it hard to hail a cab at  night.  The suit also claims that millions of dollars in tax revenue have gone unpaid to the local, state, and federal government. 

The allegations of a wide-ranging extortion scheme have been hotly discussed locally.  An recent expose by George Knapp, a nationally recognized Las Vegas  investigative reporter, found that cabbies routinely lied to  passengers—telling them that certain clubs are undesirable or unsafe (“riddled with bullet holes” was one description) in hopes of diverting them to a “paying” location.  After Nevada state  legislators attempted to put an end to this practice, the cab drivers responded by flexing their muscles.  They shut down the Strip and threatened to crash ground transportation at the airport. 

“The vast majority of taxi and limo drivers are honest and hardworking people, but this minority has a stranglehold on the city,” says Edelson. “It is finally time to put this practice to an end.”   

The suit is being brought on behalf of Theodore Trapp who lives in Southern California, and as a nationwide class. The suit names more than two dozen defendants including, Deja Vu Showgirls, Spearmint Rhino, Cheetah’s, Yellow Cab Co. and Checker Cab Co. It also references Tony Chong, an individual taxi driver who, according to the suit, has publicly admitted his involvement in the extortion scheme. 

To download a copy of the lawsuit filed:  http://www.prnewschannel.com/pdf/Trapp-Big_Poppa.pdf

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Wynn’s Lace Up Sparing Gloves

Steve Wynn and wife Elaine have selected their lawyers for their divorce battle.   In Elaine’s corner will be lawyer Don Schiller, who represented Juanita Jordan in her divorce from NBA icon Michael Jordan. 

In Steve’s corner will be attorney James Jimmerson, who handled Wayne Newton’s divorce and Mike Tyson’s bid to regain his boxing license.

With Forbes magazine announcing this week in its annual ranking of billionaires that Steve Wynn’s worth is pegged at $1.5 billion, down from $3.9 billion a year ago, the trial will assuredly provide the backdrop for one of the biggest divorce settlements in U.S. history. 

Chicago-based Schiller won a $168 million settlement for Juanita, which was ranked by Forbes magazine as “the most expensive in entertainment history.”

But Steve Wynn, who filed for divorce from Elaine on March 5, now reportedly being in love with British divorcee and socialite Andrea Danenza Hissom, will probably give up more than that.  The split is thought not be an amicable one.

In comparison, like billionaire Rupert Murdoch coughed up $1.2 billion in assets to former wife, Anna.

This has lead some to believe that the Wynn’s will eventually settle by splitting up the two huge Las Vegas casino-hotels – Wynn Las Vegas and Encore -that they opened in the past five years, renaming them Steve’s and Elaine’s.

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Las Vegas Nightclub Discrimination Lawsuit Continues

Las Vegas Strip casino and shopping mall lost a bid on Thursday to throw out a hip hop nightclub’s lawsuit alleging it is being discriminated against because most of its patrons are black. poetrynightclub

U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan said it was too early to make a decision until he hears more about Poetry nightclub’s claims of corporate racial bias against Caesars Palace, the Forum Shops and property owner Simon Property Group Inc. 

“There’s enough here that it survives a motion to dismiss,” Mahan said from the bench at the end of a one-hour procedural hearing. The judge said that the civil lawsuit was still in early pleading stages, and called for written motions before scheduling more arguments. 

Club owner Phase II Chin LLC, in a civil lawsuit filed Feb. 7, 2008, seeks unspecified monetary damages and orders prohibiting “racially-motivated” discrimination by the corporate entities.  “They don’t want black patrons in this establishment,” club attorney Harold Gewerter told the judge Thursday. “They don’t come out and say they don’t want minority patrons in there. But they show it with their conduct.” 

Caesars, Simon and the Forum Shops deny the discrimination bias claims, and lawyers argued that the case amounts to a lease contract dispute. They said Poetry was operating under an illegal sublease with the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Chinois.  “Any claims of any racial bias are outrageous and completely false,” Gary Thompson, spokesman for Caesars Palace owner Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., said in a telephone interview. “The actual facts will come out as the case proceeds.”

Lawyer Charles McCrea Jr., representing Forum Shops and Simon Properties, said there was no evidence of bias in the four breach of lease notices he said the property owners sent to Chinois.  “We have a right to notify them the management contract violated the lease,” McCrae said. “Nothing in those notices alludes to race or demography.” 

Caesars lawyer Steve Morris said the casino was even further removed from any relationship with the club. “There is no contract with Caesars,” Morris told the judge, arguing that without a contractual relationship between the club and the casino, there could be no bias. 

Club representatives say they have a management contract, not a sublease, to operate an after-hours club upstairs from Chinois. Gewerter argued that made the club a “third party beneficiary” of the Chinois contract with Forum Shops, Simon and Caesars. 

The club, initially called OPM, opened in May 2003. The lawsuit alleges that by January 2005, Caesars, Forum Shops and Simon began “an ongoing campaign of harassment and misconduct” to force the club out. 

Club manager Michael Goodwin said outside court Thursday that because his club caters to a black clientele, casino and mall managers blame it for “every negative activity in Las Vegas and around Caesars Palace having to do with African-American people.” 

Goodwin denied incidents that officials cite involved club patrons, and said owners of the casino and upscale 160-store mall also imposed prohibitively expensive security requirements as a condition of allowing entry to the club through the main Forum Shops concourse-which Goodwin called “the only dignified way to enter.” 

Goodwin said he employs 30 security staffers inside the club and hires four armed Las Vegas police officers per night outside the club, which is open 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. four nights a week. He said he can’t pay what he called “impossible money” for more.  That means patrons in trendy club clothing have to enter by a back door and an unsightly litter-strewn service hallway.

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