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No lawsuit over English-speaking eviction

Posted By Joe Kovacs On 08/17/2007 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

Tom McKenna (courtesy WPBF-TV)

STUART, Fla. – Despite an offer of legal help from a high-profile lawyer known for winning megamillion-dollar judgments, a South Florida businessman who claims he’s being evicted from his office space because he does not speak Spanish says he will not file a lawsuit.

“I’m not going to (pursue the case),” Tom McKenna told the Stuart News for today’s edition.

His remark comes on the heels of WND’s story that attorney Willie Gary agreed to take the case on a contingency basis.

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 Wednesday. “[The landlord] wants to make my life a living hell.”

McKenna indicated he was having trouble coming up with a $10,000 retainer fee sought by Gary.

“Listen, I’ve been on national TV three times, I think (my landlord) has been through enough,” McKenna told the News. “I’m on the right side of the issue, and he’s on the wrong side of the issue.”

In the wake of the McKenna’s decision not to sue, comments are already being posted in online messageboards, including:

  • Not clogging up already backlogged courts is the right decision here.The sharks are circling though, that means there is blood in the water. In court, this landlord would be shredded.

  • $10,000 dollar retainer means the attorney doesnt think it’s a winner. If he did, would be a zero retainer.

  • McKenna, you are my new hero! That shows compassion and respect for your fellow man. Just because you can sue … doesn’t mean you should! The landlord learned a valuable lesson here and McKenna gained respect.

  • The landlord hasn’t learned a single thing! This tenant is still being evicted! If the landlord learned his lesson, then he would be allowing the tenant to stay and would apologize.

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)

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

The businessman said 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 established the “Thomas R. McKenna Assistance Fund” to which the public can contribute at any Wachovia Bank nationwide.

Are you a representative of the media who would like to interview the author of this story? Let us know.

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