McDonald's worker awarded US$6.1m after stripping hoax

AFP , CHICAGO

Sun, Oct 07, 2007 - Page 11

A US jury awarded US$6.1 million on Friday to a McDonald's employee who was strip searched in a hoax that had been played on dozens of fast food restaurants across the country, local media reported.

Louise Ogborn, who was 18 at the time of the strip search, sued McDonald's for failing to warn its employees of the persistent trickster even after it had been sued by other employees, the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier Journal reported.

A female assistant manager told Ogborn to strip when she got a call from a man pretending to be a police officer who said Ogborn was accused of stealing a purse and could either be searched at the store or arrested and searched in jail.

Over the course of nearly four hours she was spanked and sexually humiliated at the direction of a man who called himself "Officer Scott." Her clothes and car keys were taken away from her.

The trickster had already duped supervisors in at least 68 different fast food restaurants in 32 states over nearly 10 years, the paper reported.

McDonald's was already defending itself against four lawsuits after 17 of its restaurants had been hit. While owners and operators of some McDonald's franchises had been warned, most employees had heard nothing about it.

The assistant manager who directed the search, Donna Summers, was convicted of unlawfully detaining Ogborn.

Summers also joined in the suit -- saying she was the victim of McDonald's negligence to warn of the hoax -- and was awarded US$1.1 million.