Lawsuit Alleges Taco Bell Gay Bashing

Two men say West Village restaurant employees attacked them, no arrests followed

Two gay men have sued a fast-food franchise company alleging they were seriously injured in a 2005 anti-gay assault in one of the company’s Manhattan restaurants.

“George had his jaw fractured and Bruce was knocked unconscious,” said Michael L. Spiegel, the attorney who is representing George Domby and Bruce Branca.

In the lawsuit, the men charge that on the evening of May 5, 2005 they were in a combined Taco Bell-Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant at 331 Sixth Avenue in the West Village. When the employee who was serving them—identified as Harmonie Jackson in court records—was rude, they asked to speak to a manager. Jackson turned to other employees and said, “Get these fucking faggots out of here,” according to court records.

“When the woman said, ‘Get these fucking faggots out of here,’ a guy who had been behind the counter and appeared to be an employee along with several other people, who may or may not have been employees, attacked them,” Spiegel said. “There were two guys who were particularly aggressive, but it was a group. There were two groups of three to four people.”

Spiegel said that while the police arrived soon after the assault, no action has been taken against anyone involved in the attack.

“They’re not sure how the cops got there,” he said. “[Domby and Branca] didn’t call them, but they arrived fairly quickly. They were both removed by ambulance from the scene. They fully cooperated with the Sixth Precinct… No one was ever prosecuted.”

The lawsuit names Jackson, Mohamed Hossaim, a manager who the plaintiffs allege “was present when the above conduct occurred, ratified said conduct, and did nothing to stop or prevent the conduct,” unidentified defendants, and ADF Companies, which operates the Sixth Avenue location.

ADF runs roughly 220 Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut restaurants in eight states. The company was founded in 1997 by Andrew A. Romeo, who died in 2002, Donald K. Harty, and Franklin I. Levy.

Contacted for comment by Gay City News, an ADF staffer wrote in an e-mail that the company was not aware of the lawsuit or the May 5 incident, but had “initiated an extensive internal investigation based on the allegations described.” The company declined to comment.

The restaurant brands are owned by Yum! Brands, a Louisville, Kentucky-based company, which operates or franchises roughly 34,000 Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, A&W, Long John Silver’s, and Pizza Hut restaurants around the globe. Yum! Brands is not a party to the suit.

In two phone calls, Amy Sherwood, the head of public relations at Yum! Brands, said the company would respond, but by deadline it had not.