The owners of the now-closed Bustop in Boulder are being sued by six “social media influencers” from California who claim the gentleman’s club used their images in marketing material without permission.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in 2019 by Jessa Hinton, Jessica Burciaga, Jessica Killings, Julianne Klaren, Kimberly Cozzens and Tiffany Toth.
According to the complaint, all six women are actresses, models and “social media influencers” who live in California. None of them have never worked at the Bustop or are affiliated with the club, yet they allege their images were used in social media and online promotion materials for the club without permission or compensation between 2016 and 2018.
The posts would feature pictures of the women along with promotional captions for the Bustop. In at least one post featuring Burciaga, the complaint alleges the post read, “One of the many beautiful girls we have at the Bustop. Come down and meet more of the insanely beautiful girls we have!”
Records show the complaint contained images of the posts mentioned in the complaint.
“To promote the Bustop strip club, and in furtherance of defendants’ commercial benefit, defendants repeatedly posted, and then maintained, on the Bustop’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, and images of plaintiffs, on many occasions altered to connect them to and associate them with the Bustop and its events and activities,” the complaint read, “thereby creating a false impression that plaintiffs worked at or were affiliated with the Bustop, would appear at the Bustop events, or endorsed the Bustop and its events and activities.”
The women said they were never compensated for their image appearing in any of the Bustop’s posts. In addition, the complaint claimed that as actresses, models and influencers, the women carefully vetted any products or services that used their image.
“In the modeling industry, reputation is critical,” the complaint read. “Endorsing, promoting, advertising or marketing the ‘wrong’ product, brand, business, or service, or working in a disreputable industry, can severely impact a model’s career.”
The complaint claims the actions were a violation of the Lanham Act — which concerns trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition — as well as a violation of the women’s right to privacy and right to publicity, and a misappropriation of likeness.
The women are seeking compensation for “economic and noneconomic damages and reputational harm.”
In a response, the owners of the Bustop, named in the complaint as 4871 Broadway Inc., issued a denial of the claims. Among the reasons, the response claimed the women were public figures and that there was no consumer confusion caused by the alleged conduct.
According to a filing on Feb. 18, both sides are going through the discovery process, after which the women would entertain settlement discussions.