Forest Hills Restaurant Pays $25,000 to Anti-Gay Attack Victim
FOREST HILLS — For Queens resident Liza Friedlander, an afternoon in September 2010 began with a trip to Sizzler for an afternoon meal. Hours later she was in Forest Hills Hospital, the victim of a violent homophobic mob attack.
On Monday, nearly two years after the incident, Friedlander finally received a measure of closure, when her lawyers announced that she had received $25,000 payment from the operator of the Sizzler as a result of the assault.
"In a way, it feels like justice has been served," Friedlander's lawyer, Natalie Chin said.
Friedlander, 46, of Forest Hills, was attacked when she and her friends tried to eat at the Sizzler on Metropolitan Avenue, near 71st Ave. A complaint filed by Friedlander with the Queens Supreme Court says that as she tried to sit down to eat the manager of the restaurant approached her and accused her of not paying for the meal.
According to the suit, Friedlander was denied service by the manager, who allegedly shoved her in the chest, called her a "f---ing dyke" and demanded that she leave the restaurant.
Things only got worse from there, as patrons allegedly threw things at Friedlander and called her a "f---ing he/she freak." One patron, who threatened to sexually assault her.
The victim, who works in the security field, described the nightmarish incident to DNAInfo.com New York, saying: "I really felt scared. It was a mob-like scene."
Friedlander's friends called the police, who took her to Forest Hills hospital, where she spent six hours recieving X-rays and CT scans. She suffered cuts and pain in her chest.
Later, she went to Lambda Legal, a legal organization that specializes in gay and lesbian issues, and filed a lawsuit in July 2011 against the Waroge Met, Ltd, which runs the Sizzler chain.
"The worst part was that I couldn't stand up for myself," she said. "There were people out there saying that I antagonized the situation; that I didn't pay, and I couldn't speak."
In late May, the court ordered Waroge Met Ltd to pay Friedlander $25,000. No arrests were ever made in the case.
"The judgment is the same as if it went to trial and that's what makes her so happy," Chin said. "It's not like it was settled quietly outside somewhere."
Freidlander says that she's still suffering from post-traumatic stress. "I've experienced hate on a weekly basis," Friedlander said, adding that now she's afraid that someone will act on their bias. "I'm always looking over my shoulder."
Friedlander says she had donated a portion of her judgment to Lamda Legal, in the hope that they can help future victims.
Waroge Met could not be reached for comment.