Appeals court upholds $6 million award in McDonald's strip search case

Published: Nov. 20, 2009 at 5:08 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2009 at 12:06 AM EST
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Louise Ogborn
Louise Ogborn
Donna Summers
Donna Summers
McDonald's in Mt. Washington, KY
McDonald's in Mt. Washington, KY

By Maira Ansari - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Court of Appeals has upheld a jury's $6 million award to a former McDonald's employee who was strip searched and detained for several hours.

"Best Christmas present Louise could get" said Ann Oldfather, attorney for Louise Ogborn.

In 2007, Ogborn filed a $200 million lawsuit against McDonald's, and in November 2007 a jury awarded her $6 million. It turns out said Oldfather, Ogborn is actually going to be getting a little bit more. Getting interest and attorney's fees.

"The dollar amount McDonalds owes as of November 15th is $10,900,000 and all well owed," said Oldfather.

Ogborn was degraded for hours after someone called the McDonald's in Mount Washington posing as a police officer in April 2004. The caller told Donna Summers, the manager of the store, that Ogborn was suspected in a theft and Summers to strip search Ogborn.

It was all caught on the store's surveillance camera, and at one point - at the caller's suggestion - Summers called her fiance, Walter Nix Jr., to continue detaining Ogborn while she had to wait on customers.

During the ordeal, Nix told Ogborn to perform oral sex on him and she complied. He pleaded guilty to sexual abuse as part of a plea deal in 2006 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

The appeals court ruling means the $5 million in punitive damages and $1.1 million in compensatory damages and expenses will stand.

"The opinion clearly says McDonalds knew these things were happening," said Oldfather. "That opinion shows the roadmap of how McDonald's has tried to get out of this and rejects every single attempt."

Summers had also sued McDonald's, saying the fast food giant had not done enough to inform store managers about similar hoaxes in other McDonald's across the country. Summers recovered $100,000 in compensatory damages and was awarded $1 million in punitive damages, but the appeals court reduced her punitive award to $400,000.

A statement released to WAVE 3 by Danya Proud, a spokesperson for McDonald's USA, said:

"We are extremely disappointed with today's Appellate Court decision. McDonald's is not disputing that what happened to Ms. Ogborn was wrong. However, it has been our position throughout these proceedings that she was the victim of a malicious hoax perpetrated by individuals not representing McDonald's."

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