SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky – Fast food giant McDonald's Corp. (MCD) found itself in court Monday, preparing to fend off a lawsuit by former employee who was strip searched and sexually abused during a hoax phone call.
Jury selection began in Bullitt County Circuit Court in the lawsuit filed by Louise Ogborn, who worked at a McDonald's restaurant in Mount Washington. Ogborn is seeking more than $200 million in the suit.
The pool of about 200 people was to be whittled down to 15, which would include 12 jurors and three alternates. Jury selection was to resume Tuesday morning.
The trial was expected to last about four weeks. A judge has issued a gag order in the case.
Most potential jurors said they had heard about the case, but only a handful said it would influence their opinion.
McDonald's has said Ogborn is responsible for whatever damages she suffered for not realizing the incident was a hoax.
Ogborn's attorneys argued that McDonald's failed to warn her and other employees about a hoax caller who had already struck other McDonald's stores and other fast food restaurants across the country.
Ogborn was 18 and working at the McDonald's restaurant in April 2004 when she was detained and forced to strip after a man called the store, claiming he was investigating a theft. The man told an assistant manager to carry out his orders. Ogborn has said at one point during the 3 1/2 hour conversation, the assistant manager's boyfriend was left to handle the phone call.
Donna Jean Summers, the assistant manager, was convicted of unlawful imprisonment. Her former fiancee, Walter Nix Jr., is serving a 5-year sentence for sexual abuse and other crimes in the incident.
David Stewart of Fountain, Fla. was acquitted last year on charges of impersonating an officer, soliciting sodomy and soliciting sexual abuse in the incident.