Legal Ethics

Strip-club lawyer threatens to 'go scorched earth' and issues F-word tax threat

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A lawyer representing an Illinois strip club in a mediation said he would provide “a tad bit more candor” in a confidential mediation statement, then proceeded to tell the opposing attorney in graphic terms how he planned to “go scorched earth” in the litigation.

“You want to go scorched earth?” wrote lawyer Bradley Shafer of Lansing, Michigan. “Let’s go scorched m—– f—in earth. You want to dance, you and I? I’ll lead.”

The memo by lawyer Bradley Shafer is no longer confidential, Above the Law and the Peoria Journal Star report. Portions of it were filed March 9 in federal court in Peoria along with the opposing lawyer’s request for sanctions.

Shafer represents Club Cabaret in a suit by dancers who want to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. Shafer said in the memo that exotic dancers generally don’t file tax returns and if they were employees, tax withholding for wages and tips would exceed the wages paid. In addition, he said, dancers “are not the type of women who want to submit to the types of controls exercised over real employees.”

Shafer wrote that he had sought tax returns for the dancers, as well as any applications for welfare or other government benefits. “If you all do not resolve this at mediation,” he wrote, for all the plaintiffs who don’t document taxes paid, “I’m going to legally f— them so far up their ASSES with the IRS that my DICK is going to come out of their NOSES.³ And, by turning in [opposing lawyer Paul Lukas’] clients, my clients can get 15% of the taxes owed as a finder’s fee under IRS regulations. It’s a ‘two-fer’ for us!”

Footnote 3 says Shafer’s comments “do not in any way state, imply, or intimate that I am threatening any type of criminal action, as that is not my intention and to do so, of course, would be a violation of the rules of professional responsibility. Rather, I’m just going to use the civil provisions of the IRS to the fullest extent to legally benefit my clients.”

Shafer said in the memo that he had not vetted his comments with co-counsel or his client, Club Cabaret.

Above the Law wonders if the loss of a pet drove Shafer to make his comments. Shafer wrote this in the memo: “Rather than spending time the past few days with our family 9½ year old Golden Retriever as he was dying of a horribly debilitating disease (although the one-day extension allowed me to witness his last breath on this planet), or trying to console my wife who has raised him since he was a 7 week old puppy, I had to, rather, deal with this bullshit.”

A lawyer who is also representing Club Cabaret, Sam Zabek, told a Peoria Journal Star reporter that he would “get a clear perspective of our position when we file our response and our cross motion for sanctions against the plaintiffs early next week.” Shafer did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal email requesting comment.

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