A year ago yesterday, I filed suit against now-defunct New York nightclub “Flash Factory” and their security firm “Ward Security Inc.” (of New York, no apparent relation to same-name security firms in Florida and England) for an invasive door search policy that involved full-hand grabbing of the genitals of male attendees and inside-the-bra searches for female attendees, all with no advanced warning of the nature of the search. A girlfriend and I were shocked to encounter their “actually worse than TSA” pat-down on the way into a music event in December 2016 and were groped before we had a chance to refuse consent. A search of the Internet showed at least a dozen complaints about this by others and they refused our attempts to try and settle the matter with a policy change, so we took it to the courthouse.
Last week, N.Y. Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits awarded my co-plaintiff and I a default judgment of $50,000 against Ward Security after they refused to show up in court despite repeated service and notice. The order, dated January 11th, 2018 but entered on February 8th, 2018, thanks to the efficiency of the New York court system, further orders that the case continue against Flash Factory itself, which has shown up to court and appears to be using the, “it’s not our fault what our own security did” defense. As I previously posted, this defense simply doesn’t work, even if you call your security “independent contractors” and shut your eyes to what they do. It doubly doesn’t work when you’re on notice that a dozen other people have complained about the same thing.
Our goal is to get these practices to stop, and the only tool at our disposal is a request for money damages, as an order requiring them to stop would require us to show potential future harm to us. But, money damages have the same effect, as once one party gets a judgment, the company knows that if it doesn’t stop, it will have more of the same.
“I’m thankful for this partial victory. It’s good to know that someone is listening to us, but we’re not done fighting by any means. These practices have to change, and venues like Flash Factory need to know that.”
~ Elise Domyan, Co-Plaintiff
A word to the wise: if your business gets sued and has any assets, including accounts receivable (that is, it’s still doing any business whatsoever), ignoring a lawsuit is a bad way to go. New York law allows a process for collection against businesses similar to the garnishment of wages against individuals, whereby I can require Ward Security’s clients to withhold payment for services, but the process against a business requires them to withhold 100% of the pay instead of a fraction as they do in wage garnishment. Security firms are also required to post a surety bond at the time they apply for a license — I’ll be taking that, thank you very much.