Friday, October 05, 2007

$5.5 Million Award in McDonald's Strip Search Suit

A little more than a year ago, I recounted the tale of a strip search at a McDonald's restaurant. Today, in a separate case, Louise Ogborn, formerly employed at the McDonald's in Mt Washington, Kentucky, was awarded $5.5 million, as a result of another McDonalds strip search.

This case involved a person on the phone claiming to be a police officer; the caller accused Louise of theft and directed the assistant manager to conduct a progressively more intrusive strip search... despite a history of similar fraudulent calls against the chain. The assistant manager complied, even to the extent of leaving the hysterical 17-year-old naked with her (the manager's) fiance. The fiance, acting at the "cop's" behest, forced the girl to perform oral sex on him.

Louise sued for $200 million.

Despicably, McDonald's defense counsel and experts tried some truly hateful tactics: saying Louise had gained from the experience (something they called "traumatic growth"), claiming that she had brought much of the stress on herself by going to the press, etc.

The jury awarded Louise $5.5 million -- not the $200 million requested in the suit, but considerably more than the previous record award - $239,000. [Update: that's the record for the county in which the trial took place; Louise's lawyer was quite pleased.]

Last year, I made this comment

If I were the chairman of McDonald's, I would make damned sure that every corporate employee, every franchisee, and every franchisee's employee was made aware of this scam. It produces bad publicity for the company (and the franchisee), plus McDonald's will eventually run into a judge who'll say something along the lines of, "this has happened x number of times, and you're still claiming you know nothing about it? I don't think so."

Okay, in this case, it wasn't the judge, it was the jury who said, "Uh-uh, no way."

Louise says she'll use the money to pay for law school.

Somehow, I don't think she'll be doing a whole lot of corporate defense work.

No comments:

Post a Comment