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$5 fine for using restroom

tennessee flood zone restaurant license plate

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#1 Hum

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 23:59

When you gotta go, you gotta go. But sometimes, it’ll cost ya. :huh:

That was the lesson one woman learned, in a major way, after making a bathroom pit stop at a local restaurant in Erin, Tennessee.

The bizarre tale began when Patricia Barnes stopped into the Flood Zone to use the restroom, which she did, before leaving without making a purchase. Then, a few days after her powder-room visit, Barnes received a handwritten note—mailed to her home—saying she owed the restaurant $5.

“I just feel like I’ve been violated,” she told WSMV-TV in Nashville, whose reporters broke the story last week after a several-month investigation (the incident occurred in late October). In addition, she said on the Today show Thursday, "I didn't feel it was a crime. I'd been in to plenty of restaurants here in this town, and other towns, and, you know, other states."

Turns out the local sheriff helped track Barnes down by running her license plate, all as a favor to the owner of the restaurant. The owner was miffed that the non-customer ignored a sign about the bathroom being for customers only, and that non-customers had to pay $5 for the privilege.

"She was one of these I'm-going-to-do-this-anyway kind of people," Flood Zone proprietor Lisa (who would not give her last name) told Yahoo! Shine. Barnes, she said, came into the restaurant, "looked up at the [wall] menu like she was going to order, said 'Let me just wash my hands,' stayed in the bathroom for, like, 20 minutes," and then left. Lisa explained that she'd only recently put up the sign about the $5 charge, and that it was in response to a broken toilet at the convenience store across the street sending "12 to 15 people a day" to her bathroom, which caused constant messes that no one had time to clean.

But Barnes, told WSMV-TV that she had first asked permission to use the facilities.

Barnes said she wasn’t angry about the bill, which she attempted to pay, twice, and which the Flood Zone owners refused ("I would not take her $5," Lisa told Shine). What did upset her, though, was that the police shared her and husband Randy Edwards’ address with Lisa so she could mail the bill. The couple said they'd had a restraining order against someone in their past, and have been protective about their private information.

“People don’t have the right to just run your tags and give your information out to just anybody,” Edwards told WSMV. According to the Houston County Sheriff, Darrell Allison, though, it was no biggie.

“I would say that happens every day,” he told the TV station. “It’s a very common occurrence.”

But, countered local state Rep. John C. Tidwell, “The way I interpret it, it would be illegal,” he said, explaining that license plate information is to be used only for law enforcement purposes. “The information should not have ever been given over to the business. That is information that is supposed to be dealt with by the state’s agency or the official.”

At the Flood Zone, meanwhile, Lisa has stopped charging for non-customers to use the bathroom. “I didn't think it would really go this far,” she said, adding that, since the report broke, she'd been inundated with "smart Alec" calls at the restaurant. "I was just trying to prove a point."

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#2 Simon-

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 00:06

It's absurd that law enforcement just hands over your private details. If the restaurant was serious about it, they should have to convince a Judge to make an order that the address be provided so that civil litigation can proceed. This is nothing to do with law enforcement or any laws unless there was a local law in place for this which I doubt there was.

#3 OP Hum

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 00:13

.... without making a purchase.


Seems rather crass of the restaurant.

I've used business restrooms when I needed to, without buying on ocassion.

But I buy stuff there at other times, so it balances out.

#4 Growled

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 01:17

What did upset her, though, was that the police shared her and husband Randy Edwards’ address with Lisa so she could mail the bill.


I see that as highly illegal. I hope someone gets in trouble over it.

#5 Rohdekill

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 01:28

I'm quite surprised the bathroom wasn't trashed by anyone having to pay.

#6 OP Hum

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 01:34

Maybe they should put one of those 'insert a quarter' locks on the restroom doors. :laugh:

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#7 Growled

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 01:39

Maybe they should put one of those 'insert a quarter' locks on the restroom doors. :laugh:


You gotta account for inflation. That'd be $5 locks now. :p

#8 Juddy

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:09

Discipline the officer & explain to the other officers that police resources aren't there for private citizens to track down someone who pees in your bathroom without making a purchase.

#9 LaP

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:13

It's absurd that law enforcement just hands over your private details.


I don't think it's actually legal. If i were her i would contact a lawyer.

#10 Anibal P

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:27

It's common in small towns to have things like that happen, my ex In Laws did it all the time, before and after we were married, at one time they knew more about us than we did it seemed, and yes that was to include traffic violations too, was never able to catch em admitting it or I would have done something about it at the local County Sheriff

#11 ACTIONpack

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:12

Would be funny if the restaurant goes out of business because of this.

#12 PyX

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:15

*reminding himself that he used to charge more than $5 to use the restrooms in RollerCoaster Tycoon*

Ok guys, seriously, what's the problem with this decision ??? :angry:

Would be funny if the restaurant goes out of business because of this.


Would be even funnier if it could save itself from bankruptcy because of this :laugh:

#13 Thrackerzod

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:56

I don't see how anything about this is legal. I'd tell the restaurant where to stuff their bill and I agree they should get so much bad publicity that they end up going out of business. The officer who gave them her information should be in hot water over this as well.

#14 Nashy

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 07:01

Does America just not have any laws to protect its people? Privacy laws are non existent in that stupid country too? I read recently that Ohio doesn't have unfair dismissal laws either.

Why the **** do people want to live there?

#15 +-T-

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 08:42

Restaurant complains, sends her bill after being given her address by the most useless police ever, then refuses to take the money.

Why even bother to send the bill if you won't accept her payment.

That her address was just given to a business owner is frankly absurd.



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