Jimmy Bell, a Maryland lawyer who handled cases dealing with issues as diverse as civil rights abuses and strip club regulations, died March 25 at his home in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He was 48.

Bell had a heart ailment, said Edward Malone, a friend and former associate attorney at Bell’s legal practice in Upper Marlboro.

Once described in Baltimore City Paper as having “the no-nonsense mien of an amiable Rottweiler,” Bell came to prominence in the late 1990s with a discrimination suit against Domino’s Pizza that alleged that the company’s drivers would not leave their cars to deliver pizzas in predominantly black neighborhoods.

The case was dismissed, but it resulted in a Justice Department agreement in which Domino’s promised that its drivers would not avoid particular neighborhoods without evidence of safety threats.

It also made Bell a minor celebrity in the Washington, D.C., area, where he went on to represent clients including chef Timothy Dean, comedian D.L. Hughley, Baltimore pastor Jamal Bryant and a flurry of exotic dancers and clubs in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Bell, who described himself as a “womanist,” was a frequent patron at strip clubs, where he sometimes held court with journalists while summoning dancers to his table and ordering plates of lobster and filet mignon.

In Prince George’s, he successfully fought to overturn a law that would have made the live-adult entertainment business significantly less exotic, putting restrictions on the attire and behavior of servers and performers.

One dancer, Ed Cloyd (known as Total Package), told Maryland’s Gazette newspaper in 2011 that the new measure would have forced him to wear Band-Aids over his nipples while performing for customers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled in 2011 that the restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

About that time, Bell wrote, directed and produced a documentary – “Don’t Hate: Strippers Fight the Government” – designed to explain his legal argument in the case and humanize the dancers whose performances he so enjoyed.

“You want to see these people not as a caricature,” he told Baltimore City Paper in 2008, “but as a human being.”

Jimmy Anthony Bell was born in Delano, California, on Jan. 28, 1969, and grew up in Stockton, California. He attended California State University at Sacramento and received a law degree from American University in 1997.

Survivors include two children from relationships; his mother, Linda Bell of Stockton; and two brothers.

Bell’s legal career often drew notice for the sheer outrageousness of his cases. In 2010, he filed a $200,000 suit against a nail salon in Prince George’s that charged him $4 more for a manicure-pedicure than his female companion.

He compared himself to Rosa Parks in legal filings for the case, observing that he “received unequal treatment for an unequal price because of his sex.” The case was eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.

“I’m just a guy trying to make a difference,” Bell told the Gazette in 2003, resisting the idea that he went out of his way to seek attention for his work. “If I had it my way, I’d do a lot of things behind the scenes that you’ll never find out about.”