DUNEDIN — As he headed to the restroom early Tuesday at the Chic-A-Boom Room, Louis Brunoforte left behind a Budweiser to mark his spot at the bar.
He returned to find someone sitting in his seat.
A verbal dispute ensued and quickly escalated.
Words were exchanged, expletives were hurled and, finally, a punch was thrown, hitting the 6-foot, 240-pound Brunoforte right in the kisser.
The culprit: An Indiana woman, Pinellas County deputies say.
"She cold-cocked me right in the mouth," Brunoforte said.
Deputies later arrested Rachel Adams, 45.
Shortly after the 1:15 a.m. incident, authorities spotted her driving a car not far from the bar, and she later failed a field sobriety test, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said.
Adams faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and DUI. She was released Tuesday after posting $650 bail.
A phone message left with Adams was not returned Wednesday.
The charges might be the least of her worries.
Brunoforte, 46, of Dunedin, is a lawyer and may proceed with a civil suit against Adams. He said he had back surgery in March and walks with the help of a cane and back brace. He wasn't injured by the shot from the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Adams, but said that fact isn't relevant.
"I was a boxer in high school so I guess I know how to take a punch," Brunoforte said. "But I could have fallen down, and with the serious back surgery I had that could have been problematic."
Brunoforte, who lives nearby, said he couldn't sleep so he walked to the downtown Dunedin martini bar to grab a few drinks and watch highlights on ESPN. Because the bar wasn't crowded, he figured it was safe to set down his drink while using the restroom.
"When I came back, she was sitting there in my seat rummaging through her pocketbook," Brunoforte said.
"I was standing next to her and she asked me if I had a problem. I said, 'I'm just waiting for you to finish so I can sit in my chair.' She said, 'Oh, it's your chair? Has it been your chair forever?' "
Brunoforte said Adams called him a profane name and he responded with one of his own. Then kaboom!
"She threw a punch like a man would throw a punch," Brunoforte said. "I didn't fall, but my head jolted back. She completely caught me off guard. I didn't expect it."
Brunoforte opted against landing a shot of his own.
Instead, he asked a bartender to call authorities.
"My only option," he said, "was to assert my rights."
Keith Niebuhr can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4156.