Texas Restaurant Owner Appeals $5,000 Fine For Starting Gay Rumor

Frank's Place ruling gay sexualityA Texas restaurateur is asking the state Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that let stand a $5,000 fine levied against her for publicly humiliating a loyal customer after she repeatedly questioned his sexuality and asserted that he was gay on numerous occasions.

Phong Van Meter, owner of Frank's Place in Alvarado, roughly 40 miles southwest of Dallas, filed a petition for review of a Court of Appeals decision in December that rejected her challenge to the lower court's ruling. Van Meter argued that sufficient evidence wasn't presented to allow the court to rule against her.

The case stems from a 2009 lawsuit filed by Bennie Dale Morris, a frequent diner at Van Meter's restaurant for some 20 years. Morris charged that Van Meter's repeated assertions and questions in 2007 and 2008 about his sexuality caused him mental anguish because they were defamatory, Courthouse News Service reports (via the Wisconsin Gazette).

Morris also claimed that his business, which, according to court documents involves "build[ing] driveways and spread[ing] sand for fixing yards around houses," saw a drop in business directly relegated to Van Meter's comments.

From the Courthouse News report:

When Morris was dining in the full restaurant, Van Meter would allegedly say to Morris, loud enough for other patrons to hear, "Where is your wife?" or "Where is your husband?"

Both comments allegedly referred to Morris' platonic friend, Glen Warren. Both men testified that they were not homosexual. Morris said that he asked Van Meter to stop asking the questions, but she refused.

In rejecting Van Meter's appeal, the Court of Appeals ruled there was sufficient evidence presented during a county court trial to prove that Van Meter's statements were slanderous.

The court further said "the record supports the trial court's findings that Morris' business sustained losses and Morris' reputation was harmed as a result of Van Meter's statements."

In addition to awarding Morris $5,000 in damages for mental anguish, the county court judge ordered Van Meter to stop "making or publishing defamatory, libelous and slanderous" statements against Morris, including that he and Warren were "homosexual partners or lovers."

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An awful thing to do to anyone for any reason. The woman should be questioned repeatedly on her sense of evil, then have it spread around on facebook and twitter.

February 07 2012 at 5:00 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Texass? Go back after the owner says shitty things? Must have voted for W SEVERAL times DUBMASS

February 07 2012 at 3:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Freedom of speech - Don't eat at the restaurant, if you can't take a joke - Besides, married homosexuals have no civil rights - They aren't black.

February 07 2012 at 3:05 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JosephEbey's comment

And leave it to an idiot like you to bring 'race' into it...betcha go to church too don't cha ...HATER ! !

February 07 2012 at 6:13 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Maybe the town of Alvarado only has one or two resturants, or maybe one, Franks place, any others could be fast food or gas stop refrigirated chow, and he doesn't like those, and enjoys the food at Franks place, after all something there must be cooked to his likeing, as he's been going there for close to 20 years now.

There are nosy people everywhere who just won't back off from trying to make people do things their way, kinda like American Policy trys to do, badger all countries to be Democaracy's, even though we have moved away from it ourselves, given all the personal freedoms we've lost in the last 11 years.

February 07 2012 at 2:10 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

PhongZilla definitely had the hots for the guy and was teasing him like grade school girls do to get attention. It backfired on her and she should pay for defamation. Her chili sucked anyway.

February 07 2012 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Little Kitten

Ms Van Meter does not sound too bright--you want to make your customers comfortable regardless of who they are if you want to stay in business. Phong may wind up with nothing but an egg roll if she doesn't change her ways.

February 07 2012 at 12:50 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

I am absolutely sure that Ms Van Meter, the restaurant owner, would be suing Mr. Morris, if he had repeatedly asked, in front of other patrons: "Where is your dog? In the soup???" LOL

February 07 2012 at 12:29 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe these two idiots are wasting the courts time and tax payers money over such bullsh*t. If he was offended then why did he continue to go back over a 20 year period of time? If he told her not to ask him such questions then why did she continue to do so...both are stupid and we just don't need anymore STUPID people using the court system to settle their disagreements over a $5,000 judgement. What ever happend to common sense?

February 07 2012 at 12:29 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I think she was wrong and a jerk to do this, but I would have just stopped going to her restaurant and would have encouraged other people to stop going there too. Of course he may have felt he had to clear his name once she started this garbage about him. There is nothing wrong with being gay, but if you are not gay being thought gay would affect your relationships just the same as if you were gay and people thought you were not.

February 07 2012 at 12:28 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Where is your wife is a gay slur?

February 07 2012 at 12:12 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Taina's comment

If she kept on asking him where his wife was she was trying to point out that he didn't have one, perhaps.

February 07 2012 at 12:29 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

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