A gay man was left with a broken jaw and a transgender woman was pepper-sprayed during an anti-LGBT hate crime from staff at a Miami Beach Burger King last October, a new lawsuit claims.
Raymond Ortega and Toni Llerena are suing Burger King for negligence and unlawful use of force, according to the Miami New Times.
In their joint lawsuit, they said that they had stopped at a Burger King outlet in Miami Beach on October 13. They claim that they were sitting down to their meals when they were approached by a member of staff who told them that they had to leave as that area of the restaurant was closing.
“Y’all need to leave, you’re a bunch of faggots.”
Ortega and Llerena’s lawsuit
However, the restaurant was not closing for another hour and a half, and other customers sitting near them were not asked to move.
Ortega and Llerena were ‘victims of a hate crime’, says lawyer
When they protested, Ortega and Llerena claim that the staff member said something along the lines of: “Y’all need to leave, you’re a bunch of faggots.”
Their lawsuit says that a security guard then stepped in and repeated the slur and that they were then violently attacked. They claim that they were both pepper-sprayed and that Ortega had his jaw broken from being punched in the jaw repeatedly.
Ortega and Llerena’s lawyer, Matthew Ladd, said in the lawsuit that he has no doubt that his clients were “victims of a hate crime.”
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He also said that Burger King had confirmed that they had CCTV footage of the attack.
Police were called at the time of the incident, but Ortega and Llerena never made a statement and fled the scene before they arrived, as they were afraid that they might be wrongly arrested.
Miami New Times contacted Burger King’s corporate office for comment on the lawsuit but received no response.
Past anti-LGBT+ incidents at Burger King
This is not the first time that a Burger King in Miami Beach has made drawn attention for anti-LGBT+ attacks.
In 2016, a Burger King in Miami Beach made headlines after gay man Jordan Schaeffer kissed his boyfriend outside before going in at around 3am.
When he went inside, he said that he was violently attacked by a customer who allegedly shouted at him: “Why don’t you show if you’re tough or not you little faggot.”
Speaking to NBC at the time, he said: “Even just talking about it makes me uncomfortable. We’re in 2016 and especially in a city like Miami Beach, where I thought being homosexual would be pretty accepted, it’s just not right that anyone should suffer.”
In 2014, the fast-food chain introduced a limited-edition version of their famous Whopper burger, called the Proud Whopper, which was only available in their Market Street location in San Francisco.
The burger was sold in a rainbow wrapper and the packaging read: “We are all the same inside.”