Sheikdown: FL Denny's calls Muslim men's $28 ml claim over Bin Laden remarks "baseless" - Both sides issue press releases
Muslim accuser demanding millions declares - "we're a group of very responsible guys"
MIM: Lawyer Alan Kauffman called this case : "A terrible act against Arab Americans". The plaintiffs (notably a Ehab Albarabi ), cited the responses to his inquiry as to why he and his friends order was taking so long (which caused them $28 million dollars worth of worth of "emotional distress, humiliation, and loss of dignity") as:
"Bin Laden is manager of the kitchen"
"Bin Laden is in charge"
"You don't get it - Bin Laden is in charge of the kitchen too"
According to the complaint " Albarabi, further informed the rest of the plaintiffs what had happened and that he had lost his appetite..."
April 27, 2005 09:15 AM US Eastern Timezone
Attorneys Alan Kauffman and Rod Hannah of the Ft. Lauderdale-based law firm Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. filed a Public Accommodation discrimination lawsuit on Friday, April 22nd, against a Miami-Dade franchisee of the Denny's Restaurant chain on behalf of seven Egyptian Americans who said they were harassed, humiliated and refused service at a Denny's restaurant in January 2004.
The complaint, filed in Miami Dade County Circuit Court, describes the acts of discrimination against seven Egyptian Americans who were refused service, humiliated and ordered to leave a Denny's restaurant in Florida City after ordering their food.
The legal action for equitable relief and damages is for unlawful race, religious and national origin discrimination in violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act. In addition, there is an action for negligent retention/supervision against the franchisee, Restaurant Collection Inc. (RCI) d/b/a Denny's, for its alleged prior knowledge of the restaurant manager's alleged documented record of treating customers rudely and in a discriminatory manner.
The January 2004 incident cited in the complaint began when one plaintiff asked about their food order after a one hour wait. Restaurant manager, Eduardo Ascano allegedly replied, "Bin Laden is in charge of the kitchen," obviously referring to the notorious Arab terrorist Osama Bin Laden. The complaint further asserts that Ascano made additional inflammatory statements, including "We don't serve Bin Ladens here." He is said to have ordered the plaintiffs to leave the restaurant, saying "You're not welcome here any more."
"Our clients are American citizens who deserve to receive their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights and to be treated with respect," said attorney Alan Kauffman. "This type of discriminatory action against minorities is not only an attack on Arab Americans but an attack on America's core values and principles that every person, no matter what their race, color or religion have certain inalienable rights."
"These actions need to be addressed," added co-counsel Rod Hannah, "and the perpetrators must be held accountable to prevent any more incidents from occurring."
The plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $2 million for compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress, humiliation and loss of dignity and punitive damages in excess of $2 million for the restaurant owner's willful, malicious and reckless misconduct.
About Becker & Poliakoff
Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. is a diverse commercial law firm with more than one hundred attorneys in offices throughout Florida and the world. For more information, visit: http://www.becker-poliakoff.com
MIM: Although CAIR was not mentioned in the initial article which came out about the lawsuit, or any items since, MIM is checking into their reported statements on was broadcast news. CAIR's MO is all over this 'sheikdown' which the men's lawyer, has ludicriously declared to be, "the worst case of anti Muslim discrimination I have ever seen". The case has even made it into the international press and become the subject of spoof and satire.
Denny's investigation shows that "there is no evidence" to support the Muslims claims. The person who was alleged to have made remarks to them has 'disappeared'. The police who were supposedly present and asked by the Muslims to intervene are 'being sought'. Most revealing the Florida Commission on Human Rights which was nowhere near the scene, yet they proclaimed that "there was reasonable cause" to believe the men were discriminated against. Which begs two questions:
Why 7 professional Muslim men decided to eat in a Denny's in the first place, and how much the Florida Human Rights Commission is asking for their part in what appears to be a CAIR sheikdown .
Men sue Denny's for discrimination
By Chrystian Tejedor
Seven men of Middle Eastern descent have sued a Denny's restaurant in Florida City, claiming the restaurant refused to serve them.
Denny's customers sue claiming discrimination
Seven men of Middle Eastern descent who say they were kicked out of a South Florida Denny's and compared to terrorist Osama bin Laden have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the diner seeking $28 million in damages.
"This was a terrible act against Arab Americans," said Alan C. Kauffman, one of the attorneys for the group, which includes a doctor, a real estate agent, insurance broker and a restaurant owner.
The seven men are of Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian descent. They are U.S. citizens and live in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Their suit against the Denny's franchise at 401 SE First Ave., Florida City, has been filed in Miami-Dade County; no date for a jury trial has been set. The diner is run by Restaurant Collection, Inc. of Miami-Dade.
Filing suit are: Mohammad Natour, of Plantation; Ehab Mohammed, of Boca Raton; Ehab Albaradi, of Hallandale; Nabil Arafat, of Pompano Beach; Usama El-A-Baidy, of Hallandale; Esam Hessein, of Hollywood and Usama Mohamed, of Dania. Each man seeks $4 million in damages.
The alleged incident stems from the group's early morning visit Jan. 11, 2004. "They were seated by the hostess, given menus, and their drink order was taken and served," Kauffman said.
According to the 10-page complaint, the men waited more than an hour for their food. Frustrated, one of the men -- Ehab Albaradi -- approached shift manager Eduardo Ascano and inquired about the group's order.
Ascano allegedly said: "Bin Laden is the manager of the kitchen" and "Bin Laden is in charge," referring to the Arab terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Albaradi and a second plaintiff, El-A-Baidy, decided to speak to Ascano again about their order.
Angered, Ascano told the short order cooks in the kitchen to cancel the group's order, the suit claims.
El-A-Baidy then asked Ascano why he had used the name bin Laden.
"We don't serve bin Ladens here! You guys, out!" Ascano allegedly said.
Also in the diner at that hour: a group of police officers from an unidentified agency.
But when one of the plaintiffs requested a police report of the incident, a female officer refused and pulled out her handcuffs.
She then ordered the men to "Get out, get out!" the men claim.
The men paid for their drinks and left.
Kauffman said he is trying to identify the officers.
For now, the lawsuit names Restaurant Collection Inc. and Ascano.
Ascano is no longer with the company, Kauffman said. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
In a statement, Restaurant Collection said that the 'allegations of discrimination were immediately and thoroughly investigated by an independent, outside agency that found no evidence whatsoever to support the guests' claims."
In January, the Florida Commission on Human Relations said there was "reasonable cause"' to believe the group had been discriminated against.
Herald news partner CBS4 and researcher
April 29, 2005
Denny's bites back at discrimination claim
The chief executive officer and president of Denny's has responded to the racial discrimination suit filed against a franchise restaurant in Florida City, calling it baseless.
"We take claims of discrimination very seriously at Denny's," Nelson J. Marchioli said. "We long ago adopted a zero-tolerance approach to such incidents. If we find that any allegation of discrimination has merit, we take swift and forceful action."
Part of the reason for that action: In 1993, staff at a Denny's refused service for more than an hour to six African-American on-duty officers in the U.S. Secret Service. Their white fellow officers at a nearby table were served without incident.
After the six officers filed suit, thousands of other customers reported they had experienced similar discriminatory incidents at Denny's restaurants nationwide. Eventually, the suit involved class members in 49 states and the restaurant chain settled for $17.72 million.
In addition, Denny's signed a consent decree, which placed the corporation under a court order to provide nondiscrimination training to its employees and to monitor and report future instances of discrimination.
The latest possible site of discrimination is at 401 S.E. First Ave., in Florida City. Plaintiffs say they visited the restaurant Jan. 11.
Seven Egyptian-Americans said they were harassed, humiliated and refused service. Represented by the Fort Lauderdale office of Becker & Poliakoff, the plaintiffs filed public accommodation discrimination lawsuit last week in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.
Attorneys Alan Kauffman and Rod Hannah said their legal action for equitable relief and damages is for unlawful race, religious and national origin discrimination in violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act.
In addition, there is an action for negligent retention/supervision against the franchisee, Restaurant Collection, for alleged prior knowledge of the restaurant manager's alleged documented record of treating customers rudely and in a discriminatory manner.
The January incident cited in the complaint allegedly began when one plaintiff asked about their food order after a one-hour wait.
The restaurant manager allegedly replied: "Bin Laden is in charge of the kitchen," potentially referring to terrorist Osama Bin Laden. The complaint further asserts the manager made additional inflammatory statements, including: "We don't serve Bin Ladens here."
Attorneys said he ordered the plaintiffs to leave the restaurant, saying: "You're not welcome here anymore."
Kauffman said his clients are American citizens who deserve to receive their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights and to be treated with respect.
"This type of discriminatory action against minorities is not only an attack on Arab-Americans, but an attack on America's core values and principles that every person, no matter what their race, color or religion, have certain inalienable rights," he said.
The plaintiffs are seeking more than $2 million for compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress, humiliation and loss of dignity, and punitive damages in excess of $2 million for what they said is the restaurant owner's willful, malicious and reckless misconduct.
Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny's replied that its commitment to the advancement of cultural and racial diversity and inclusion is well established. A chief diversity officer, Ray Hood, has guided its procedures for more than a decade, the company said, adding he has helped Denny's achieve wide recognition by civil rights leaders and national news media as a leader and role model, a place where diversity is embraced and celebrated.
"We often are consulted by businesses seeking to improve the way they address discrimination issues," CEO Marchioli added.
However, just as his company has been forceful in creating and implementing its approach to racial issues, Marchioli said it is doubly vigorous in its defense against "such spurious claims that injure the reputation not only of our company, but the people who work hard every day to make Denny's one of America's favorite family restaurant chains."
Marchioli said Denny's commissioned an immediate and thorough investigation by an independent, outside agency with experience investigating such allegations for the United States Department of Justice.
"That investigation found no evidence whatsoever to support these allegations," the officer said. "The facts proved no deterrent to plaintiffs who perceived an opportunity for financial gain."
Denny's CEO Marchioli intends to aggressively challenge the accusations.
"We are confident," he said, "when all of the facts are presented, that Denny's will be vindicated."
A US restaurant chain is being sued after a manager allegedly turned away seven Arab Americans, claiming they "did not serve bin Ladens."
The men are seeking £2 million (4 million dollars) each from the former manager of Denny's in South Florida and the Restaurant Collection company which owns the Denny's franchise.
They claim there were discriminated against and humiliated when compared to the al Qaida terror chief.
The lawsuit, filed in Miami, states that they visited the restaurant in January and were seated and served drinks.
When their food did not arrive they inquired about the order but were allegedly told by manager, Eduardo Ascano that "Bin Laden is in charge of the kitchen".
On further questioning 30 minutes later, Ascano allegedly swore and said "we don't serve bin Ladens here" before ordering them to leave.
One of the group's lawyers, Alan Kauffman, said: "This was a terrible act against Arab Americans."
Restaurant Collection owner Alfonso Fernandez issued a statement denying the allegations.
"We are truly committed to treating all of our guests with respect, and we take every guest concern seriously," he said.
"These allegations of discrimination were immediately and thoroughly investigated by an independent, outside agency that found no evidence whatsoever to support the guests' claims."
No trial date has been set.
The Denny's Corporation refused to take responsibility for a racial discrimination complaint against one of its South Florida franchises, ignoring the seven alleged Muslim victims for 11 months, a Boca Raton plaintiff said Wednesday.
Ehab Mohamed, an Egyptian-born Muslim and insurance broker who lives in Boca with his American wife, said he and his six friends in their $28 million lawsuit would fiercely dispute last week's statement by Denny's president Nelson Marchioli that the corporation immediately investigated and discounted their January 2004 complaint to the Florida Commission on Human Relations – a state agency that recently found probable cause for discrimination in its own yearlong investigation.
"The president of Denny's is lying to the entire world," said Mohamed, 31. "I'm disgusted because it was a full 11 months before Robert Morris, a private investigator hired by Denny's, contacted us to begin his investigation."
Alan C. Kauffman, the Boca lawyer representing Mohamed's group in the suit filed last week, said a June 1, 2004 letter from Denny's litigation coordinator Angela Pressley was the first and only correspondence his clients received from the Denny's corporate office about the incident at a Florida City restaurant.
Pressley's letter simply stated that the Florida City franchise owner would handle the complaint and that Kauffman's clients should direct "all future correspondence or questions regarding this matter" there instead of to the corporate office.
"When you talk about denial of civil rights, and the way Denny's refused to take responsibility for this complaint, our case definitely goes to a threshold issue," Kauffman said Wednesday. "Looking at past litigation in Texas, I think it's fair of us to ask for $28 million. It's consistent with past jury decisions."
Debbie Atkins, Denny's public relations director, said the company would not respond to Mohamed's allegation outside of court.
"We're not going to get into a back-and-forth discussion," she said. "We're in litigation now, so the courtroom is the proper place for these issues."
In the statement issued last Friday, company president Marchioli said Denny's commissioned "an immediate and thorough investigation by an independent, outside agency with experience investigating such allegations for the United States Department of Justice" to evaluate the Muslims' claim.
"That investigation found no evidence whatsoever to support these allegations," Marchioli said. "The facts proved no deterrent to plaintiffs who perceived an opportunity for financial gain."
Mohamed and six friends of Middle Eastern descent from Broward County – Nabil Arafat, Ehab Albaradi, Usama El-A Baidy, Esam Hesein, Mohammad Natour and Usama Mohamed – allege in their complaint that the manager of the Denny's called them "bin Ladens" and refused to serve them during a 2 a.m. food run on Jan. 11, 2004.
The seven friends are all married professionals, including a physician and a real estate agent. They said they were nicely dressed and polite at the Denny's restaurant, asking a waiter not to serve them any pork or alcohol because of their Islamic beliefs.
When their food did not arrive an hour later, El-A-Baidy confronted manager Eduardo Ascano, who allegedly told him, "Bin Laden is in charge of the kitchen."
The group confronted Ascano again and he allegedly told them, "We don't serve bin Ladens here! You guys, out!"
As Ascano threatened to wait outside and beat them up if they didn't leave, two off-duty police officers intervened.
Mohamed said one of the officers, a female Metro Dade cop, "pulled out her handcuffs and started banging them on the wrist" of one of the men.
She allegedly refused to give them her name and badge number, threatening to write a police report if they didn't leave.
"Initially, we had a false sense of security because of the police presence and the fact that there's nothing extremist about our group," Mohamed said. "We were totally wrong."
Mohamed, whose Christian wife is a third-generation Floridian, said he could not understand why the incident happened.
"I was shocked," Mohamed said. "I never imagined that this sort of thing could happen in this day and age. The whole thing is pure discrimination."
Although the Anti-Defamation League is not involved in the lawsuit, southeast regional director Art Teitelbaum said the group's allegations could be true.
"Virtually all large companies have policies against discriminatory behavior in the consumer marketplace. It wouldn't make financial sense not to have them," Teitelbaum said. "However, policies are always dependent on the employees on the ground. This is not the first case where Arab-American Muslims have complained of being discriminated against."
Kaufmann, the Boca lawyer, said his plaintiffs would seek to make Denny's implement a policy revoking franchise ownership in a case of reported racial or religious discrimination.
A lawsuit is also pending against the two off-duty police officers, who were interviewed by a Florida Commission on Human Relations investigator.
According to the Commission's investigative report, witnesses confirmed that the off-duty female cop threatened to arrest the men if they did not leave.
Witnesses also said the seven Muslims were noisy and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.
However, employees who served the Muslims also confirmed the anti-Muslim remarks made by manager Ascano, whom they said had a reputation for being "rude and unprofessional."
Sean Salai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-893-6427.