Miami Velvet own’s attorney said the club’s culpability was a “no-brainer.”
A Miami swingers club will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to models whose photographs it used without permission.
The settlement was reached between Miami Velvet and 32 professional models. For years, the swingers club—reportedly the most famous in South Florida—had distributed fliers and made social media posts using the women’s likenesses. But those models, says the Miami Herald, had nothing to do with the club or its sex-fueled parties.
According to the Herald, a jury ruled against Velvet on Monday. Finding that the club had ‘swiped’ models’ images without permission, the panel awarded $892,500 in damages, to be split among the plaintiffs.
However, the jury’s award was far below the $5.3 million sought by law firm Akerman.
Nevertheless, attorneys for the plaintiffs told the Herald they thought it was a fair conclusion to a years-long court battle.
“I think the jury’s decision was fair and I think they took into account that these women were entitled to say yes or no to the job, and ultimately, they wouldn’t have said yes,” said Naim Surgeon, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer.
The Herald provides the name of several models included in the settlement: Joanna Krupa, who’s appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Real Housewives of Miami”; Jaime Edmonson Longoria, a former Florida cop and professional cheerleader; and Cora Skinner, notable for an appearance on “Deal or No Deal.”
Each of the women received different sums: Krupa pocketed $65,000, while the other two women took home $32,500 each.
Miami Velvet, says the Herald, is one of a ‘handful’ of swingers’ clubs in South Florida. Jason Silvera, a Velvet manager, even characterized it as “one of the best nightclubs in Miami.”
“The only difference is you can be intimate here,” Silvera said.
However, that’s purportedly what bothered many of the models involved in the case. Their attorneys said the women’s images had been used to “class up” an establishment befouled by “unhealthy and unsanitary” sexual activities.
Aside from appearing in social media posts, the models’ photographs were sometimes featured alongside ‘explicit images of group sex on Miami Velvet’s website.’ Attorneys say that kind of misrepresentation could’ve led people to believe women like Krupa and Longoria were participants.
“In 2019, we respect a woman’s right to say yes or no: consent matters and should matter to all of us,” Surgeon said on Monday, delivering a closing statement before the jury left to deliberate. “As decent people, we should understand that’s how we want society to operate: consent requires permission first.”
“These aren’t just pretty women,” he added, “They’re entrepreneurs, mothers, businesswomen.”
Some of the models, notes the Herald, were named in Miami Velvet’s advertisements.
Not surprisingly, the club’s counsel—Luke Lirot—admitted it was a “no-brainer” that the club was responsible for misusing the images. However, Lirot and his colleagues contended that the women were asking for more compensation than they were likely entitled.
Lirot declined to provide the Herald with any comment.