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Talk about damages for pain and suffering. In an arbitration case that even the judge noted had “very unique” facts, Jennifer Jo Smith — alias Jewel Marceau — sued Paige White, a legendary performer and director in the bondage community, for injuries incurred during a very explicit San Francisco photo shoot for Slave Labor Productions. It seems that Smith, considered a star in her field, hurt her left arm, wrist and hand while bound, gagged and hanging from ropes several feet off the ground. Or as the arbitrator put it in a ruling released Thursday: “Claimant (unable to express any discomfort with a gag in her mouth) was left hanging as ropes were unevenly loosened and she was not provided effective bracing.” The arbitrator, former San Francisco Superior Court Judge Raymond Williamson Jr., found that Smith was not an “employee” for purposes of worker’s compensation as she had argued. But he did rule she had been injured because of negligence and awarded her $35,544. In addition, he ordered White to pay more than $8,700 for the American Arbitration Association’s arbitrator and administrative fees. Walter Walker III, a partner at San Francisco’s Walker & Hamilton who represented Smith, said the case should have settled for a pittance, considering the injuries were rather minor. But he said he “had a real tiger by the tail” in White, who refused to settle for fear of ruining her image in the bondage world. So Walker used the terms of Smith’s contract to force the case into arbitration. “Given the fact that we had a bondage case,” he said, “it was interesting that it was binding arbitration.” Smith, from Virginia, had contacted White, and the two arranged the photo shoot at White’s home/studio. Smith — star of videos such as “Asses in the Air 1,” “Leather Bound Dykes From Hell 15″ and “Sorority House Slaves” — was paid an hourly rate. The injury occurred during a pose that Smith hadn’t tried before. Arbitrator Williamson, who noted more than once that he had watched the videotaped performance, offered detailed descriptions, noting that White urged Smith to “push the envelope,” and Smith responded with comments such as “more-more,” “more pain” and “I’ve experienced more hurt.” “Clearly this ‘work’ was a labor of love and mutual pleasure for both claimant and respondent,” Williamson wrote, “and each wished to maximize the effect for themselves and each other.” In trying to defend herself against claims that she was Smith’s employer, White noted that for one thing, Smith had provided her own extensive wardrobe. “However,” Williamson wrote, “the arbitrator, having viewed the video, concludes that ‘extensive wardrobe’ is a ‘term of art’ in the industry.” Walker said he’s never handled an arbitration case quite like this one and did it “for a change of pace.” But he said the subject matter wasn’t as erotic as it might appear. “What seemed quite interesting and titillating before we watched it,” he said, “after 10 minutes became quite boring.” Stephen Cusick, the Nielsen, Haley & Abbott partner representing White, said he isn’t sure whether he’ll try to appeal, especially since appealing an arbitration ruling isn’t easy. He said the arbitrator seemed to have fun with the case, but he regretted that negligence was found. “Tying yourself up for fun and profit,” he said, “is a risky business.”

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