Bob Davis’ dream of making money again by not having a strip-club license were dashed recently when a federal judge awarded him one thin dollar for having his rights violated by the city of Seattle. He’d wanted $2.3 million, almost triple what he’d already earned through similar court challenges. But it was still a win, and therefore his attorneys are now able to ask the court to make taxpayers pay for the firm’s $300-an-hour services to the would-be stripper prince, a $138,000 tab.
Davis once operated Giggles Comedy Club and the Urban Comedy Cafe, and is responsible for a lawsuit that forced City Hall to lift its moratorium on new downtown strip clubs in 2007. Unable to open his own club, he has made a decent living through failure: He won $500,000 from Seattle in a 2005 case after proving the city wrongly refused him a club license, and three years later collected $350,000 from the city of Bothell using the same strategy.
The most recent case involves his attempt to open a strip club at the site of Cyndy’s House of Pancakes in north Seattle. The plan was stalled by neighbors and city officials invoking an adult-cabaret requirement that such clubs not be close to schools, child-care centers, or public parks. There, as U.S. Judge Robert Lasnik reminded in his March 27 ruling, the court ruled against the city because it “failed to place limits on the time within which the decision-maker must issue the license.”
With Cyndy’s, Davis proved he suffered financially as a result of the city’s delay. With Giggles, however, he couldn’t. “[E]ven if the City had moved as fast as Plaintiff now demands, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to prove, as a matter of fact, any damages,” ruled Lasnik. “Given the pace at which Plaintiff moved throughout this process, the volatility of the market, and Davis’s own statements, the Court finds it more likely than not that Plaintiff would have done nothing while Davis waited to convert Giggles into Jiggles [another failed strip venture]. Moreover, even were the Court to assume that Plaintiff would have acted promptly to open at an alternate location, the evidence demonstrates that it would have only lost money.”
Still, the $1 award left the door open for attorneys’ fees, which Davis’ lawyer, Kristin Olson, submitted last week. Along with a few other charges, her costs were $134,000, she says, and a second attorney is due $4,200. The city has said it will challenge those charges.