Hearing scheduled for lawsuit against Portofino manager accused of battering teenager in downtown Lexington

Plaintiff asks Judge to add Portofino restaurant as defendant

By Patrice K. Muhammad

Posted online July 6, 2017 11:13a

Queen Zion Gates graduated from high school in June.

LEXINGTON, Ky – A status hearing in the case against Portofino restaurant manager Michael Robinson is scheduled for Tuesday, July 11.

Abigail Gates filed a civil lawsuit November 23, 2016, accusing Robinson of attacking her minor daughter in downtown Lexington on the evening of November 5, 2016 after she left the Main St. building which houses Portofino restaurant.

In new court filings by Gates attorney she has requested that her daughter Queen Zion Gates, who is now 18, be allowed to assume the role of plaintiff in the lawsuit against Robinson.

Additionally, there is a motion to add Portofino parent company Port Restaurant, LLC to the lawsuit.

On the night of Nov. 5, 2016 Lexington Police officers responded to a 911 call. Police dispatch audio obtained by The Key Newsjournal describes the incident as “a male White attacking a female Black near Central Christian Church”.

Gates’ complaint states the teen and her sister were given permission by Robinson to change clothes inside Portofino restaurant after completing a photoshoot in Downtown Lexington. Upon exiting the restroom Robinson asked to search their bags for an alleged missing jacket. The Gates allowed Robinson to look in the bag(s), then “Robinson turned his attention to the other teens’’ and the Gates sisters left.

Robinson reportedly followed the Gates sisters, asking to look in Queen Zion’s backpack (bag) again, but this time grabbing it when she opened it. Queen Zion is said to have snatched her backpack and tried to put in on her back, which Robinson held onto.

Cheryl Mack, a witness who is named in the lawsuit, called 911 and told police that a “white man jumped on top of [the Black female]. He had one knee on the ground and one leg straight out to balance himself and was punching the Black female with the backpack while she was on the ground.’’

Gates’ original eleven-page lawsuit claims Robinson, who is an adult male, physically attacked and forcibly restrained the minor girl, without consent, in downtown Lexington resulting in multiple injuries, mental pain, humiliation, suffering and embarrassment.

Michael Robinson holding teenager against her will.

Robinson looked in Gates’ bag twice. The contents of her bag spilled throughout downtown during the altercation and police accounts confirm that the alleged missing jacket was never seen in Queen Zion’s possession nor found the night of Nov. 5, 2016.

The civil suit says Gates was treated at St. Joseph Hospital East for her injuries.

The complaint says, “Defendant Robinson was acting within the scope of his employment as a manager of Portofino Restaurant’’ and was “an authorized agent of Defendant Portofino.’’

Portofino ownership is accused of negligent training and/or supervision of Robinson.

On December 14, the Lexington Police Department filed a complaint of theft against a 17-year-old male and 16-year-old female, which is a misdemeanor. A 17-year-old female was charged with receiving stolen property (misdemeanor) and a felony charge of tampering with evidence. All charges were addressed in juvenile court and the results will remain sealed.

Ms. Gates and her daughter have consistently proclaimed that she is innocent and did not participate in any crime while in the building where Portofino is located.

Lexington Police and County Attorney Larry Roberts failed to prosecute Michael Robinson for his actions the night of Nov. 5, 2016 claiming the assault allegations, “could not be corroborated.”

Atty. Bill Davis at January 18 hearing in Judge Goodwine’s Circuit Courtroom.

Atty. Bill Davis, a solo practicing attorney, will argue this civil case against Robinson in Circuit Court.

The restaurant manager, Robinson, is defended by a team of six attorneys, three from the Getty Law Group in Lexington and three more from Goldberg Simpson in Prospect, KY.

All civil proceedings are held in open court.

Hearing information:

Judge: Pamela Goodwine

Court: Fayette County Circuit – Civil Division

Date: Tuesday, July 11

Time: 11 a.m.

Related news: Key Newsjournal Exclusive Video of Portofino Manager Holding Teen


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