From today's Chronicle:
DON'T YOU just hate it when it costs more to stuff your MasterCard card into someone's G-string than if you slipped the dancer cash?
Well, apparently Houston-area resident Paul Brian Meekey has had enough.
He is the plaintiff in three lawsuits filed last week in Harris County state courts, trying to end the scourge of $5 credit-card surcharges for $20 lap dances at Houston strip clubs.
"He's just a fellow here in town who is offended when people stick him with an illegal charge," said Houston lawyer David George.
The lawsuits state that Meekey visited three strip clubs in August and was charged $25 instead of $20 for a table dance, which the lawsuits say is when "patrons of the strip club are able to have the dancers dance for them individually."
The suits, against the clubs Treasures, Centerfolds and Rick's Cabaret, purport to speak not only for Meekey but on behalf of all other credit card-wielding table dance lovers.
Yes, George hopes to make these cases class actions to retrieve the $5 of every charging lap dance purchaser in the past four years.
"Texas law flat-out says you cannot charge a surcharge for a credit card transaction," George said. "This looks like a blatant violation."
He is asking for a declaratory judgment agreeing that the practice violates the Texas Finance Code.
The lawsuits ask that the money be returned to all class members and that attorneys' fees be paid.
Management at the clubs had no comment Friday.
"People find it amusing, but when they look at it they see we have a pretty good case," said George, who plans to sue more clubs.
A graduate of the Baylor University law school, George said he heard someone complaining about the lap-dance charge and immediately recalled his consumer law professor explaining why such a surcharge is illegal.
For now, he said, his client doesn't want to talk about the suits.
George said he's aware that, should he win, some of the lap dance aficionados for whom he's fighting might wish to remain anonymous rather than have their refunds arrive home in the mail.
Another lawyer tried filing similar cases in 1999 but abandoned them, in part out of fear that clients would only be angry when they received notice at home about refunds.