October 6, 2007
McDonald’s Worker Wins Strip-Search Suit
By BRUCE SCHREINER
SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. - A jury awarded $6.1 million Friday to a woman who said she was forced to strip in a McDonald's back office after someone called the restaurant posing as a police officer.
Louise Ogborn, 21, had sued McDonald's Corp., claiming the fast-food giant failed to warn her and other employees about the caller who already struck other McDonald's stores and other fast-food restaurants across the country.
Ogborn was forced to undress, endure a strip search, and to perform sexual acts, the lawsuit said. The events were captured on surveillance video, which was shown to jurors during the trial.
Ogborn had been seeking $200 million. McDonald's Corp. attorneys argued the company was not responsible and contended the company was being sued because of its deep pockets.
Ogborn hugged relatives after the verdict was read.
"Louise has stood up for what happened to her and what McDonald's failed to do for three-and-a-half years, and this jury just vindicated her completely," said her attorney, Ann Oldfather.
McDonald's is evaluating whether to appeal the decision, a spokesman said.
"While we are disappointed with the verdict, we remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our employees and provide them with a safe and respectful workplace," said William Whitman, a spokesman for McDonald's USA.
Ogborn accused the company of negligence leading up to the events in April 2004, when she was detained for 3 1/2 hours.
In the lawsuit, she said someone called the restaurant in Mount Washington impersonating a police officer and gave a description of a young, female employee, accusing her of stealing from a customer. The caller instructed an employee to strip search the woman, according to testimony.
A former assistant manager, Donna Summers, was placed on probation for a misdemeanor conviction in relation to the incident. Her former fiance, Walter Nix Jr., is serving five years in prison for sexually abusing Ogborn during the 3 1/2-hour search.
A Florida man, David Stewart, was charged with making the hoax phone call but acquitted last summer. Police have said the calls stopped after Stewart's arrest.