Delilah aka “Dirty” Dancer enjoyed gyrating at the Friday night community gatherings held in the local Town Hall of Mainstreet, USA. Regrettably, Dirty’s 56 year old grooving was viewed by many members of the cozy community as a little too “unorthodox” for their “G Rated” children. Dirty Dirty’s dancing limelight was snuffed when she was banned from attending the town events. Town officials said they received complaints about Dirty’s dancing and short skirts, and she ignored repeated warnings. Dirty retorted that the town talk of Mainstreet, USA treated her differently from patrons who were dancing and dressing in a similar fashion.
The Real Dirty Delilah, with the help of the ACLU, filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in 2001. After a seemingly endless flurry of motions, hearings, and appeals, on April 30, 2008, the 4th Circuit reinstated Dirty’s almost eight year old lawsuit. At the insistence of the insurance company which had long been promoting settlement, it appears that, without admitting any wrongdoing, the Town of Mainstreet, USA threw in the towel. Dirty is reported to have received payment of some $275,000. We don’t know if that was enough money to get Dirty to agree to end her dancing career in the cozy community of Mainstreet, but it probably was enough to buy her some good dancing lessons and maybe even her own place to dance!
TS Litigation Tip. “Swallow Your Pride Now and Again.” Particularly maddening to all of us are problems or behavior, whether they be community or corporate, that we all know are simply not “right.” At first, it may feel good and noble to pursue truth and honesty, but sometimes pushing a point can end up being painfully time consuming and unacceptably costly.
Do you think that Dirty would have reconsidered her rabble rousing if the kind folks in Mainstreet, USA first invited her to join them in a family meal to meet their children before the complaints were lobbed? Do you wonder if there might have been other conciliatory options permitting Dirty to be met “half-way” rather than only “our way or the highway?” Given the “complaints” about short skirts and dirty dancing, how do you predict the prattlers would have reacted if those who were bumping and grinding were a gaggle of their own teenagers? Should lawyers, who are licensed both as attorneys before the court and “counselors,” first consider options to avoid litigation and discord in the hope of securing a resolution that is closer to a more economical “win-win” for all sides?
For more information on this case go to:
Rebecca Willis v. Town of Marshall, North Carolina, No. 07-1404 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, at Asheville (CA-02-217-1) (April 30, 2008) (Unpublished).
Rebecca Willis v. Town of Marshall, North Carolina, No. 03-2252 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on appeal from the US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, at Asheville (CA-02-217-1) (October 7, 2005).