Whether it’s a case of buyer’s remorse or criminal fraud, a patron of Santa Barbara’s Spearmint Rhino strip club is out nearly $75,000, and he’s suing to get it all back.
Jerry Forewright visited the Montecito Street club “on a few occasions” between September 10 and October 5, 2014, according to his lawsuit. In that time his credit card racked up $74,711 in charges. Signed receipts show the purchase $100 Rhino Chips — which pay for private lap dances — in bundles of 5, 10, and 15 at a time. The purchases were made at all hours on multiple days, as early as 9 a.m. and as late as 4 a.m., and were always processed by the same “server” named “Kimberly.” Tips ranged from $100 to several hundred dollars.
Forewright, however, claims his signatures were forged on the receipts, that they “varied dramatically” from one transaction to the next. He states in his lawsuit that he always handed his credit card to a server to be processed and so was unaware of how much he was being charged. Forewright contacted his bank, Bank of America, to dispute the charges. The bank at first reimbursed him with temporary credits as it investigated his claims but then reversed the credits when it confirmed with the club that the charges were valid.
Forewright claims Spearmint Rhino “willfully failed to correct the errors” and that Bank of America did not properly investigate his allegations of misrepresentation and fraud. Both are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Santa Barbara Superior Court. Forewright is represented by Kevin Mauseth with the Carpinteria law firm Bright & Powell. Mauseth said he couldn’t comment on the case, explaining it would be premature to do so.
But others with knowledge of the case paint a very different picture of Forewright’s three weeks of visits to the club last fall. They claim he specifically requested a “Vegas experience,” complete with multiple dancers entertaining groups of friends shuttled in by limousine. They state Forewright was well aware of the expenses he was incurring, even requesting the club stay open past its normal closing time.
Spearmint Rhino defense attorney Peter Garrell said he was unable to discuss those counterclaims, but he did state the facts of the case are very different from contents of Forewright’s lawsuit. He also noted Forewright’s own bank verified the credit card charges. Garrell has not been officially served with the lawsuit yet, but he said that Spearmint Rhino would likely receive it in the coming weeks and soon after draft a rebuttal.