Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawyer in wrongful death suit says Pasco McDonald's parking lot was 'like a bar on wheels'

DADE CITY — Four years ago, Anthony Makowski died in a violent altercation with another man in the parking lot of the only 24-hour fast food restaurant in the Land O'Lakes area.

The McDonald's on U.S. 41 attracted the night owls. Attorney Curt Obront offered a description Wednesday in a Pasco County courtroom: "This parking lot on weekends became basically like a bar on wheels."

Obront is representing Cathy and Wayne Makowski, who sued McDonald's operator Brickman Management Co. and shopping center owner B&B Cash Grocery Stores Inc, alleging negligent security at the restaurant.

"This case involves a senseless, preventable tragedy," Obront told the jury during opening arguments in a civil trial.

He described the parking lot as a site of alcohol-fueled crime, citing more than 700 emergency 911 calls between 2001 and 2005 concerning incidents in the area.

Between midnight and 5 a.m., he said, were like the "witching hour."

"It was a dangerous situation,'' Obront said. "It was not a question of if something like this would happen, it was a question of when."

Obront argued a security guard's presence could have prevented the altercation that took Makowski's life on April 24, 2005.

Makowski, 21, died about 4:30 a.m. after getting into a fight with Martin Robles-Taylor.

Makowski, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound former high school football player, allegedly charged Robles-Taylor, body-slamming him at least once and battering him on the ground. Robles-Taylor, who had been through basic training in the Army, managed to put Makowski in a choke hold that killed him.

Prosecutors decided a couple of years ago that the video evidence didn't support criminal charges against Robles-Taylor.

In his opening arguments Wednesday, defense attorney Bryant Blevins said testimony would prove the McDonald's was not a hotbed for drunken mayhem and the plaintiff had mischaracterized the reports of rampant crime in the area.

Obront's claim that hundreds of 911 calls had stemmed from crimes in the McDonald's area were inaccurate, Blevins said. The incidents may have occurred miles away, but were reported from drivers who had pulled over by the restaurant.

"You have to be able to compare apples to apples," he said.

He told the jury McDonald's employees would say they called authorities as soon as the physical altercation between Makowski and Robles-Taylor began.

Blevins also stressed that Makowski and the other men involved had been drinking before the altercation, which was not the company owner's fault. Makowski's friend Rick Hoadley, then 21, was with him; Robles-Taylor was accompanied by Samuel Wenzel Jr., then 21.

"It sounds like four intoxicated men decided they were going to have an altercation," he said. "One was going to pump their chests up bigger than the other."

The trial hit a snag Tuesday when lawyers on the plaintiff's side uncovered unreported facts about three of the jurors, including old arrests.

The revelation prompted Circuit Judge Susan Gardner to dismiss the entire group, and attorneys picked a new jury Tuesday afternoon.

The trial is expected to last through next week.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Lawyer in wrongful death suit says Pasco McDonald's parking lot was 'like a bar on wheels' 06/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations

    Bucs

    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.

    2008

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Boy Scouts apologize over Trump's remarks at jamboree

    National

    Facing an angry backlash from parents and former members, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologized on Thursday for political remarks made by President Donald Trump at the organization's national jamboree this week, during which the commander-in-chief crowed over his election victory, attacked the news …

    President DonaldTrump, front left, gestures as former boys scouts, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, watch at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean, W.Va. Boy Scouts president Randall Stephenson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, July 26, in his first public comments on the furor over President Donald Trump's speech on Monday that he'd be "disingenuous" if he suggested he was surprised by the Republican president's comments. [Associated Press]
  3. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports

    Airlines

    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  4. Hit-run driver who refused to leave van threatened to shoot, Hillsborough deputies say

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eddie Carly Colon Soto peeked his head out the broken side window of his van as a SWAT team closed in.

    The driver of this van tried to flee the scene of a crash in north Tampa Thursday morning until he could travel no farther, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Then he refused to leave the van and threatened sheriff's deputies, they said. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  5. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox

    Bucs

    They narrowly missed the playoffs by thismuch.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]