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Evicted for 'no Spanish': 'Superlawyer' joins fight

Posted By Joe Kovacs On 08/15/2007 @ 9:35 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled

Attorney Willie Gary

STUART, Fla. – A South Florida businessman who claims he’s being evicted from his office space because he does not speak Spanish says he’s now getting help from a high-profile lawyer known for winning megamillion-dollar judgments.

Attorney Willie Gary has agreed to take the case of Tom McKenna on a contingency basis, WND has learned.

McKenna, 51, says he still faces a move-out date of Aug. 31 from his location where he’s run Seacoast Water Care for the past seven years, and doubts he can stay there.

“I don’t think I’ve got any choice [but to move],” he told WND. “[The landlord] wants to make my life a living hell.”

Enter Gary, a local legend who has gone from a migrant worker sharing a shack with his ten siblings to a multimillionaire and chairman of the Black Family Channel.

According to his website, Gary has handled some of the largest jury awards and settlements in U.S. history, winning more than 150 cases valued in excess of $1 million each. In 2000, he won $240 million on behalf of his clients when a jury found that Disney stole their idea for a sports complex. In 2001, Gary secured a $139 million verdict against Anheuser-Busch on behalf of the family of baseball great Roger Maris.

The luxurious interior of attorney Willie Gary’s Boeing 737

He often conducts business on the “Wings of Justice II,” his custom-designed, 32-passenger Boeing 737 with a giant letter “G” on its tail. Its opulent interior includes an 18-karat gold sink, plush leather seats, a $1.2 million sound system and a full-service kitchen.

McKenna is now trying to come up with an initial retainer fee for Gary.

As WND reported earlier this month, McKenna has become the focus of national debates over illegal immigration and property rights.

Two Hispanic men exit a Mexican restaurant adjacent to Seacoast Water Care in Stuart, Fla. The owner of Seacoast, Tom McKenna, says he’s being evicted because he does not speak Spanish (WND photo)

The businessman says his landlord at the Ellendale Center in Stuart wants him out of his office space by the end of the month, in order to “complete [his] vision of converting the center to quality tenants serving the Spanish need in the area.”

McKenna insists he has been a good tenant for some seven years, always paying his rent on time.

McKenna’s water-conditioning business shares the same building as a check-cashing store and a Mexican restaurant, both of which feature signs in Spanish.

Tom McKenna’s Seacoast Water sign in Stuart, Fla., is the only one of three businesses in his plaza in English (WND photo)

The day after Independence Day, McKenna received a letter from landlord Ivan Munroe telling him to consider another location, even offering McKenna other space he owns.

Then in another letter dated Aug. 1, Munroe informed McKenna his rental contract was being terminated.

“Please remove all of your possessions by August 31,” the second letter stated.

When asked about his initial letter’s statement about his “vision of converting the center to quality tenants serving the Spanish need in the area,” Munroe told the Stuart News, “I can have a vision, can’t I? And his business just doesn’t fit there.”

Spanish signage for a business in the same plaza as Seacoast Water Care in Stuart, Fla. The owner of Seacoast, Tom McKenna, says he’s being evicted because he does not speak Spanish (WND photo)

Regarding prospective other tenants to replace McKenna, Munroe said, “Mexican people come in, you know they’re going to stay. You know they’re going to pay the rent.”

Due to expected moving expenses and because the notoriety has taken some time away from running his business, McKenna has established the “Thomas R. McKenna Assistance Fund” to which the public can contribute at any Wachovia Bank nationwide.

He told WND he’s also looking into the possibility that the adjacent Mexican restaurant may have been given a lease on his space before he was ever notified to get out.

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