Wyandotte & Leavenworth

Photographer files claim against Lansing over ‘gothic’ remark

Updated: 2013-06-01T00:30:35Z

By MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

The owner of a Leavenworth photography studio says she does not take scary pictures, and she has filed a claim for damages against elected officials of Lansing to make her point.

Debra Bates-Lamborn of First City Photo & Frames said Mayor Billy Blackwell of Lansing offensively and falsely labeled her work “gothic” at a recent City Council meeting.

Bates-Lamborn said she had previously taken photo portraits of elected officials for the city. At the March 21 council meeting, Blackwell asked the council members to schedule a date to have new portraits taken.

“We are going to go with a different person, so we won’t have the gothic look this time,” Blackwell said, according to the minutes of the meeting.

The meeting was videotaped and aired on cable TV but is no longer available on the city’s website.

Bates-Lamborn, who did not attend the council meeting, was not amused when she learned of the remark.

“That’s scary to most people,” she said. “Gothic, to me, means dark and moody. That’s branding a photographer.”

Bates-Lamborn filed a claim with the city of Lansing, naming all nine members of the City Council and asserting that the remark could be damaging to her business. She is seeking “in excess of $75,000 plus punitive damages” under a Kansas tort claims statute.

Blackwell said he could not talk about the claim under the advice of the city attorney.

Under the statute, Bates-Lamborn can file a lawsuit in court if her claim is denied.

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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