Update on Ogborn v. McDonald’s

by Ted Frank on November 23, 2009

Those of you who have attended my “Law of McDonald’s” talks in California and Florida may recall the case of the strip search hoax. A Florida man who was unusually persuasive would call dozens of fast food restaurants until he could find someone who would believe he was with the police and who would disrobe employees (or themselves) at his instructions; though there have been other lawsuits seeking to blame the fast food restaurants for this, courts have generally thrown them out. One exception was the case of Ogborn v. McDonald’s, where two targets of the hoax successfully sued for millions. On Friday, the Kentucky Court of Appeals largely affirmed the lower court judgment, though it reduced the punitive damages received by Donna Summers (who gave an Alford guilty plea for her role in the strip search) from $1 million to $400,000. McDonald’s hasn’t yet decided whether to appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court. (Andrew Wolfson, “Appeals court upholds $6.1 million strip-search verdict against McDonald’s”, Kentucky Courier-Journal, Nov. 20, via ABA Journal).

{ 6 comments }

1 Robert 11.23.09 at 6:40 pm

The suit doesn’t seem wrong to me–it’s the amount of the judgement.

Think if it as a multi-car crash. The car behind you rear-ends you. However, he probably woudn’t have hit you if he weren’t rear-ended by the car behind him. You sue the driver of the car that hit you, and he, in turn, can sue the person who hit him.

But for the fact that it was McDonalds, and not some small buisness, the judgement was for $1MM instead of $5,000, which is more like the actual damages. (Perhaps you were so upset you couldn’t work for a week.) That’s the real problem here.

2 tugbug 11.23.09 at 7:19 pm

Frustratingly typical. Identical suits thrown out… but, keep on trying and eventually you might get your lottery ticket punched.

I am painfully aware each day in the hospital that we all do the same things the same ways in the same situations for the same reasons, and it provides little protection from the legal system should there be a bad result.

Is consistency from our legal system too much to ask for? And no, typically and consistently inconsistent does not count.

3 John Rohan 11.23.09 at 7:36 pm

The other problem is that the actual perpetrator got off scot-free. So without him around, people go after the most convenient target at hand.

4 CT_Yankee 11.23.09 at 10:04 pm

In an alternate reality, “A Florida man who was unusually persuasive would call dozens of potential clients and secured a significant increase in sales revenue for his department. He is profiled in this months Business Journal.”

This idiot could have been rich and famous, instead of pathetic loser.

5 EB 11.24.09 at 2:20 am

McDonald’s probably should have settled just to keep it from getting out that the people making the food there don’t seem to be intelligent enough to follow any sort of safety rules. What if the caller had told them to put rat poison in the food? From this account it seems pretty likely that they would have.

6 Kurt 11.24.09 at 6:54 am

CT_Yankee,
Maybe that is his day job:-) Didn’t Madoff live in Florida?

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