McDonald’s to pay $7.2M in strip-search lawsuit

McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant company, must pay $6.1 million to an ex-worker who was strip-searched and sexually assaulted at one of its Kentucky restaurants after a hoax caller accused her of stealing.

The Oct. 5 jury verdict in Bullitt County Circuit Court in Shepherdsville, Ky., came in a lawsuit by former McDonald’s worker Louise Ogborn, who sued the company for negligence. Jurors awarded another $1.1 million to Donna Summers, the assistant manager who took the hoax call. The two women alleged that the chain failed to warn workers about similar hoaxes.

Understanding Robotic-Assisted Surgery: Insights from the Experts

Advances in robotics are transforming our world, and healthcare is no exception. Robotic-assisted surgery is…

Learn More

“McDonald’s knew about the hoaxes taking place and they made a choice not to share the information,” Ann Oldfather, Ogborn’s attorney, said.

Ogborn, who was 18 at the time of the April 2004 incident, had sought $200 million in damages. She was held for more than three hours in the back office of a McDonald’s in Mount Washington, Ky., after a caller posing as a police officer ordered the strip search and convinced Summers’ then-fiancé to sexually abuse her.

- Advertisement -

Summers was duped by the caller into asking Walter Nix to search Ogborn while Summers ran the restaurant. Nix, who was not connected to the caller and was also duped, ultimately forced Ogborn to submit to humiliating sex acts at the instruction of the caller, according to the complaint. Nix pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in 2005 and is serving a five-year prison sentence.

“He followed the instructions of the caller and he’s paying a big price for that,” said Oldfather, with the Louisville, Ky., law firm Oldfather & Morris.

Ogden’s lawsuit was the first complaint stemming from a hoax at a non-franchise McDonald’s restaurant, according to Oldfather. During the trial, the jury was told that McDonald’s suppressed knowledge of the hoax in order to protect its reputation and ensure potential employees wouldn’t be scared off.

The hoax caller hasn’t been identified.

Similar hoaxes have tricked supervisors at more than 40 McDonald’s restaurants over the past 11 years, Oldfather said. Information about the rash of hoaxes was contained in a training manual for managers and wasn’t shared with assistant managers, according to Oldfather.

McDonald’s, based in Oakbrook, Ill., is evaluating its legal options and may appeal, spokesman William Whitman said today in a statement.

“This malicious hoax was perpetrated by individuals who do not represent our brand,” Whitman said in the statement. •

No posts to display