Service With a Threat at TGIF, Customer Says

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CN) – After a woman complained about service at T.G.I. Friday’s, a restaurant manager made threatening telephone calls telling her, “you’re gonna die, stupid bitch,” and playing the rap lyric, “Nigger die slow,” she claims in court.
     Martine Marcellus sued Briad Restaurant Group dba T.G.I. Fridays and its assistant manager Angela Pekalski, in Union County Court.
     She claims Pekalski made the threatening calls after a dispute at the chain’s Linden, N.J. outlet.
     Marcellus and her family were eating dinner on March 23, 2011 when they “had a disagreement with the bartender who served them at the restaurant,” the complaint states. Marcellus at the time was grieving for the recent murder of a cousin who was raised with her as her sister.
     After the problem with the bartender, she says, Pekalski “presented herself” as an assistant manager and treated her and her family with “disrespectful and unprofessional behavior.”
     Marcellus says she called the restaurant’s 1-800 customer service line the next day and “filed a grievance complaint regarding said bartender and defendant Pekalski’s disrespectful and unprofessional behavior.”
     She “provided her full name, address and telephone number when requested,” she says in the complaint.
     That very evening, Marcellus says, she “received on her cellular telephone a series of harassing and threatening telephone calls from a private (blocked) telephone number” that “consisted of a female voice ‘cackling’ and repeating her name ‘Martine’ in a taunting manner.
     “Additionally, the telephone calls consisted of rap music playing the verse ‘Nigger Die Slow,’ calling plaintiff her a ‘stupid bitch’ and threatening plaintiff, ‘You’re gonna die,’ ‘You’re gonna die, stupid bitch.'” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Then she got another call in which the caller recited her home address “in a taunting manner.”
     She says she reported the threats to the Leonia Police Department, fearing the calls might have come from someone involved with her cousin’s murder.
     “While at the Leonia Police Department and in the presence of police officers, plaintiff received additional calls wherein the female caller laughed in a taunting told plaintiff to ‘look outside,'” the complaint states.
     “Upon information and belief, the calls were intended to put plaintiff in fear of her life at her home.
     “Subsequent to hearing the calls, police kept plaintiff at the police station while officers canvassed her neighborhood for assailants associated with the calls.
     “When suspects were not found, plaintiff, too terrified to return to home, stayed with relatives.”
     The complaint adds: “On or around March 25, 2011, a police investigation revealed that defendant Pekalski made the harassing calls and terroristic threats to plaintiff.
     “Upon information and belief, defendant Pekalski made the harassing calls and terroristic threats to plaintiff in and during the course of her regular employment duties.
     “Upon information and belief, defendant Briads and/or John Does (1-10) … covered up defendant Pekalski’s intentionally tortious, harmful and criminal conduct against plaintiff.”
     Marcellus claims Pekalski got her personal contact information from her complaint to T.G.I. Friday’s.
     She seeks damages for recklessness, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     She is represented by Zilka Saunders of East Orange, N.J.

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