Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches ( Answered,   6 Comments )
Subject: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: carolcook0818-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 10 Aug 2004 06:44 PDT
Expires: 09 Sep 2004 06:44 PDT
Question ID: 385829
I need information on strip search lawsuits involving McDonalds (the
fast food chain) from 1998 to date. I need to know where and when
lawsuits were filed in the United States and as much information you
can provide re same.  If there is any information on McDonalds
"reaction" to these suits, I would like to know that as well.  Thank

Request for Question Clarification by omnivorous-ga on 10 Aug 2004 07:52 PDT
Carol --

I've seen several stories involving hoaxes being played on naive fast
food restaurant managers, including this one from Boston regarding
FOUR Wendy's managers:

There have been similar reports in the Associated Press involving
other fast food restaurants, including one that I found regarding
customers being searched at a Taco Bell.

Are you sure that you're seeking a McDonald's lawsuit and not another?

Best regards,


Clarification of Question by carolcook0818-ga on 10 Aug 2004 12:19 PDT
No- I know all about Wendy's, Taco Bell, etc., etc., as I have done
extensive research myself.  I only want McDonalds litigation in the US
since 1998 and I personally know of 5-6 cases, I also know there is a
whole lot more out there- it is involving the hoax phone calls (the
guy has been arrested) I only want to know about the filings of
lawsuits by victims of the scheme in re McDonalds.
Subject: Re: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
Answered By: inquisitive-ga on 10 Aug 2004 12:49 PDT
Dear Carol,

After extensive research, I have located details on three cases of
strip searches involving McDonald's employees. Two resulted in
lawsuits and the third just happened, with no charges filed against
McDonald's yet that I can find.

1) 2002 - Roosevelt, Utah

"In May 2002, the Roosevelt working her first day at a McDonald's said
she was strip-searched and forced to jog naked after a bogus theft
accusation from a caller authorities now believe was Stewart claiming
to be a McDonald's executive."
"The woman filed a nine-count civil rights lawsuit in Salt Lake City
in October 2002 seeking a jury trial and unspecified real and punitive
damages from T.J. Goodman Inc., owner of the Roosevelt and Vernal
McDonald's franchises, as well as McDonald's Corp. The woman's
attorney, Robert H. Wilde, said the suit "was resolved" out of court
for an undisclosed amount.",1249,595077381,00.html

You can access the specific details of this lawsuit through Utah's
U.S. District Court via PACER (Public Access to Court Records) which
allows free registration, but requires payment for download of files.

2) 1999 - Zanesville, Ohio

"McDonald's has been hit by two lawsuits stemming from the crime in recent years."

"In one case three years ago in Zanesville, Ohio, a 35-year-old unit
manager who had strip-searched two female employees--18 and 19 years
old--on what he testified were telephoned instructions from a police
detective, was acquitted recently of misdemeanor charges of unlawful
restraint and sexual imposition."

Further information on the Ohio case from an AP report from the Oct.
20, 2000, edition of the Columbus (OH) Dispatch: "Manager acquitted in

"Scott Winsor a "McDonald's restaurant manager who admitted to
strip-searching two employees was acquitted yesterday on charges of
unlawful restraint and sexual imposition."

"The parents of the women have filed a civil suit against McDonald's
and Winsor for sexual harassment, assault and battery and false

The article has been taken offline, but further quotes are referenced
in this excellent Google Answers response on the strip-search hoaxes
(lots of great information on strip searches at Wendys, Hardees,
Applebees, Taco Bell and other restaurants:

And here's a more recent article on the Zanesville case - following
last month's arrest of the possible perpetrator:

3) 2004 - Mount Washington, Kentucky

"David Stewart, a Florida corrections officer, is now himself behind
bars for a strange deceptive telephone hoax that led to a strip search
and sex at a McDonald's in Mount Washington."

"According to Mount Washington police detective Stump, Stewart phoned
from a pay phone in his hometown of Panama City and claimed he was a
police officer. Stump says Stewart convinced the McDonald?s female
manager to strip-search a female employee under the guise she stole
money from a customer."
(free registration required)

I've been unable to find any information regarding McDonald's response
to the incidents. Several sources (including a March 30, 2004 article
by Stephen Gray in the Wall Street Journal) quote "The National
Restaurant Association, Wendy's, Taco Bell and Applebee's are sending
memos to restaurants telling managers that if they receive suspicious
calls, to ask for the caller's name and telephone number, then hang up
and contact local law-enforcement authorities," but do not mention a
response by McDonalds. Nor have they issued a press release on this
issue (at least not one that is listed on their Web site).

It looks like Wendy's even went so far as to help pay for police work
to apprehend the criminal:

"Rogers said the investigation could not have been done by two small
police departments if it hadn't been for Wendy's International, which
helped pay for investigation expenses of about $15,000. "

Search strategies:
mcdonald's suit "strip search"
mcdonald's lawsuit "strip search"
mcdonalds lawsuit "strip search"
"strip search hoax" mcdonalds
mcdonald's litigation

Hopefully, this is the information you were looking for. If you're
looking for something more specific that I haven't covered, please let
me know and I'll do my best to provide the answers.



Clarification of Answer by inquisitive-ga on 10 Aug 2004 15:41 PDT
As an update, here are some more specifics on the Utah case mentioned above:

U.S. District Court - District of Utah (Central) 
Filed: 10/23/02 
Doe v. TJ Goodman Inc, et al (McDonalds Corporation also mentioned as a defendant)
--charges against defendants include false imprisonment, invasion of
privacy, defamation and negligent training and supervision. It
specifically alleges that McDonalds Corporation had knowledge of
similar prior incidents and neglected to properly notify and/or train
employees to handle a similar situation.

--case was dismissed "with prejudice" on 8/20/03 per a confidential
settlement agreement.



Request for Answer Clarification by carolcook0818-ga on 11 Aug 2004 04:51 PDT
I already have those cases- sorry if I wasn't specific enough- its
just that I have waded through so much already- there is also a case
in Savannah (I have that one as well)and a Complaint was just filed in
the Mt. Washington case this past Monday.  I know there were
"incidents" in Indiana, Missori, Mass., etc.  I just don't know how to
find them.  If you can help more that would be awesome, but as it
stands, I already have the exact same things you have found thus far.

Clarification of Answer by inquisitive-ga on 11 Aug 2004 08:05 PDT
Dear Carol,

I am so sorry that my answer wasn't what you were looking for. You
didn't specify in your question that you knew of any such cases, or
that you were even specifically looking for victims of this
strip-search hoax, or I probably wouldn't have even attempted to
answer your question. You appear to have done your research well and
may have reached the limits of easily-accessible public information.

To let you know what I did do so that you don't duplicate my efforts,
I spent several hours in the PACER site
( looking for likely cases involving
McDonalds and civil rights/discrimination violations (case types 440
and 442). This requires registration as well as payment for
downloading case files. I dug through quite a bit of them, but was
unable to find any more specific cases for you (although I did find
entirely too many complaints against McDonalds Corp for inappropriate
discrimination and other acts). I also searched local papers in some
of the states where other restaurants were involved such as
Massachusetts, Arizona, South Dakota, North Dakota, Indiana, Utah,
Kentucky and Ohio.

Other than contacting police departments or wading through every court
case filed against McDonald's Corp (assuming that McDonalds is even
named since, in some of the hoax cases, the complaint was only made
against the manager/management company), I'm not sure that you're
going to find any easy answers. A former FBI agent, who worked on the
Terry Nichols case and now operates a PI firm in Wichita, KS, has been
working to document these cases for over a year (he was hired by one
of the fast-food chains) and has only documented about 70 of the hoax
calls from dozens of affected restaurants and stores (not just
McDonald's), using lawsuits, newspaper reports and police. I doubt he
will be able to help you due to confidentiality, but you might try
contacting him:

License Number: D-845 
First Name: DANIEL 
Middle Name: L  
County: SG 
State: KS 
Zip Code: 67278 
Date Issued:  09/03/1999 
License Expiration Date: 12/31/2004

Best of luck with your research! If I can help you with anything
further, please let me know.


Clarification of Answer by inquisitive-ga on 11 Aug 2004 14:29 PDT
Hi Carol,

Found a mention of another case involving McDonald's, though I can't
find a record of a lawsuit that came from it:

"In 1999 [Note: actually, the incident took place in December 1998] a
pervert menaced a McDonald's in Milwaukee by calling up the female
manager, pretending to be a police officer, and guiding her by
telephone through a strip search of a male employee, who he said
should be checked out for theft. The caller was never caught, and a
man using a similar modus operandi struck twice in September 2000 at
fast-food restaurants in Bismarck, N.D. In December 2001, yet another
incident occurred at the Arby's in Noblesville, Ind., when a "police
officer" called the female manager and asked her to strip search a
certain female employee while he was on the phone, while asking the
employee impertinent questions, and then later that month, the same
thing happened in Billings, Mont., at a business the Billings Gazette
did not identify. (The Gazette later reported that it had received a
follow-up inquiry from authorities in Charleston, W.Va., as a caller
had struck a restaurant there, too.) [Indianapolis Star, 12-20-01]
[Billings Gazette, 1-5-02, 1-13-02]"

And here's a response (albeit a minor one) by McDonald's on the incident:
"Sullivan [Breda Sullivan, McDonald's regional marketing manager]
would not comment on whether the store manager would be disciplined
for conducting the strip-search. "I really can't answer that
question," Sullivan told a reporter. "We don't have all the facts."
But she said: "That clearly is not an appropriate action. Being the
family business that we are, we would not condone it."

As for further responses by McDonald's, I can't find any. There are no
press releases on the topic on their site. Other sources specifically
mention The National Restaurant Association, Wendy's, Taco Bell and
Applebee's warning their employees about the incidence, but do not
mention such a response from McDonald's. The testimony in the Utah
lawsuit did mention that the McDonald's manager involved in the
incident knew about previous calls, but that McDonald's had not done
anything to properly train employees to handle such situations or to
warn their employees or customers.

I hope this helps. No, we don't have magic sources here, but many
Google Answers researchers (myself included) do pay for access to
subscription sources such as There is no magic formula,
though. You still have to wade through piles of court documents, and
pay for each one you look at. That's what private investigation is all
about. I am very sorry that I wasn't able to find anything further,
but what I didn't find says something too.

Subject: Re: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
From: omnivorous-ga on 11 Aug 2004 07:27 PDT
Inquisitive --

A quick search shows articles written about this issue in the Wall
Street Journal; NY Times and the Associated Press.  Several quote
attorneys and other experts who were tracking the problem though quite
frankly I didn't see any other lawsuits mentioned.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
From: inquisitive-ga on 11 Aug 2004 08:10 PDT
Thanks for the help Omnivorous! I'm sorry if I stepped on your toes,
by the way. I was working on the question for quite a while yesterday
morning and I think my lock expired during that time. Anyway, I didn't
see your request for clarification (or the more helpful response)
until I had already posted my answer.

I have dug through literally over 100 news articles on the subject
looking for more details. I've found mention of many more incidents,
but no further mention of lawsuits being filed against McDonalds.
There may be more suits brought against the managers involved that I
haven't found, but I've been unable to locate anything further on
suits brought against the restaurant directly. Sigh.

Subject: Re: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
From: omnivorous-ga on 11 Aug 2004 10:16 PDT
Inquisitive --

No problem.  In fact after I posted the note, it appeared that you'd
found most of the news sources (including the March 30 Gray article,
even if isn't always easily searched online.  Gray quotes
several people who might be good sources, including Tom Briggs of the
National Food Service Security Council.

A search of Federal court documents might be helpful but lawsuits are
just as likely to be filed in state courts, as you've seen from some
of the results.

Good luck with it!

Subject: Re: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
From: carolcook0818-ga on 11 Aug 2004 12:10 PDT
guys-(gals?) thanks so much for trying to help me out.  I had never
used this "service" before, so didn't know what all I should say
etc... I guess I was hoping that ya'll had some "secret weapon" for
finding information.  I think most of the cases would be filed in
state courts (though not all of them obviously)Not to spend a bunch
more time on this, however, is there anyway that you know of to find
out what McDonalds Corporate did about this?  I already know what they
DIDNT do.  Wendy's did finance a big part of the investigation and I
might add that Wendy's warned thier stores, etc.  McDonalds sadly did
Subject: Re: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
From: inquisitive-ga on 11 Aug 2004 14:32 PDT
Most of the lawsuits that I found - both those against McDonalds and
those against other restaurants - were filed in U.S. District Court
which covers the area in which the incident occured. Those were the
court records I was searching at PACER - civil and criminal court
cases in U.S. District Courts for the states I knew were targeted by
the caller.

Subject: Re: Litigation regarding McDonalds and strip searches
From: inquisitive-ga on 13 Aug 2004 21:11 PDT
Hi Carol,

See my answer clarification for a further response on more cases and
McDonald's response to this matter. If I run across anything further,
I'll post that as well.


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy