Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nigel Haskett and McDonald's

Nigel Haskett, a McDonald's employee, is a hero.

From the Arkansas Times:

Haskett was working at the McDonald's at 10201 Rodney Parham Road last August when he interceded to stop a man who was beating a woman in the restaurant. The assailant, later identified as Perry Kennon, went outside. Haskett also stepped outside and stood at the door to keep Kennon from re-entering the restaurant. Kennon retrieved a gun from his car and shot Haskett – “multiple times,” according to [Haskett's lawyer, Philip M.] Wilson. Haskett, now 22, underwent three abdominal surgeries and still carries part of a bullet in his back, according to Wilson. Haskett's medical bills exceed $300,000, Wilson said.

Kennon was arrested a few days after the shooting and charged with first-degree battery. At his arraignment, where he pleaded innocent, District Judge Lee Munson lectured Kennon about his long criminal record, and lauded Haskett: “Here is this young man working for minimum wage, coming to the aid of a woman.” Munson passed the case on to Pulaski Circuit Court, and he and his court reporter each contributed $100 to a fund for Haskett that was set up by Twin City Bank.

What Haskett did was incredibly courageous.

He came to the aid of a customer, putting himself in danger. By preventing Kennon from reentering the McDonald's, Haskett was also protecting everyone else in the restaurant, customers and employees alike.

It was a selfless, heroic act.

Thank God he survived his injuries.

...Haskett filed a claim with the state Workers Compensation Commission. Misty Thompson, a claims specialist with McDonald's insurer, Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, said in a letter to the Commission that “we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment.”

The Times sought elaboration, but a McDonald's spokesman said the company couldn't provide it at present. The owner-operator of the restaurant where the incident occurred can't talk about it because the case is pending in court, she said.

Wilson wrote in a letter to the Times:

“McDonald's position now is that during thirty-minute orientation Mr. Haskett and the other individuals going through the orientation were supposedly told that in the event of a robbery or anything like a robbery . . . not to be a hero and simply call 911. Mr. Haskett denies that anything like that was even mentioned during orientation or at any time during his employment with McDonald's.”

Here's more, from KARK 4 News:
After fighting for his life in the hospital, McDonald’s employee Nigel Haskett may now be fighting for reimbursement of his nearly $300,000 worth medical bills.

On surveillance tape of the day of the incident, a man apparently slaps a woman in the face. With seconds Haskett tackles him. Seconds after Haskett re-enters the store and then collapses. Police say he was shot multiple times.

McDonald's surveillance video here.

Although the insurance agency has denied Haskett's claim, the franchise owner of that McDonald's says to remember that the matter is still pending.

The owner writes:

"We are all grateful to Nigel and that's why it is so unfortunate that he's having a difficult time with the insurance claim…however, the fact of the matter is that I do not have control over whether my employee's claim is paid by Worker's Compensation. It is my understanding that there has not been a final determination by the Arkansas Worker's Compensation Commission. I am taking this very seriously, and doing what I can to help and I hope his claim will come to a quick resolution and the right thing will be done for my employee."

Clearly, the franchise owner supports Haskett.
...Haskett's attorney says he's entitled to the money, and will fight the insurance company for it in court.

"They do everything they can not to pay a client. That's what we have here. They just try to get out of paying any way they can," said Haskett’s attorney Philip Wilson.

There is a process to filing this claim and only the first part has been denied. The case will now go before a judge, then possibly the worker's comp commission. It could even be appealed to the Supreme Court.

This is a PR nightmare for McDonald's.

Paying $300,000 to cover Haskett's medical expenses is a pittance compared to the damage done by tons of bad press.

McDonald's claims that employees are instructed NOT to be heroes in the event of a robbery or potentially violent situation and to call 911. Haskett claims he never received instruction on that.

Now, I'm assuming that Haskett was aiding a stranger, and that as an employee, he was assisting a customer and protecting everyone else in the restaurant.

If this were some sort of personal matter, and Haskett knew the people involved, I would likely take a different stand. Then, it could be argued that Haskett just happened to be at work when he was settling a personal matter. That doesn't appear to be the case.

The fact is Haskett may have saved a customer's life. His quick intervention, not waiting until authorities arrived, may have made the difference. He put himself at risk to protect others. That's service above and beyond what any McDonald's customer could expect.

Haskett is a hero. McDonald's should treat him like one. The first step should be paying his medical bills.

What Haskett did speaks to the quality of his character. McDonald's should be praising him rather than abandoning him.

McDonald's touts "What we're made of" in its latest advertising campaign.

If this is the way McDonald's treats a hero, they're not made of the right stuff.

McDonald's, I'm not lovin' it.

(h/t August26)


beakerless said...

McDonald's at both corporate and franchise level are trying to slime out of any responsibility for the denial of workman's compensation. I have already informed corporate headquarters I will be boycotting all of their franchises pending a responsible resolution of this matter. I may not spend hundreds of bucks at Mickey D's every week but with grandchildren we do go there a couple times a month and usually drop at least $20.00. My friends and family will be urged to do the same. Each of us needs to stand up and do the right thing like Nigel Haskett did. "Don't get involved" has made this a very dangerous world. The least I can do to try and make this a better world is to stand up for Nigel Haskett.

August26 said...

Thanks for posting this Mary. It is incredible to me that McD's has taken this position. When the insurance claim was denied, the corporate office should have just written a $300,000 check - they would have earned a lot of good PR for a relatively modest sum, instead of what they are getting now, and the insurance company would have been left looking like creeps.

I wrote to McD's to express my anger and disappointment and got this response today:

Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's.

Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's [sic] to let us know your thoughts on this unfortunate incident. Because this restaurant is an independently owned McDonald's and an insurance claim is still pending, it is not appropriate for us to comment. The owner of this restaurant hopes this claim will come to a quick resolution and the right thing will be done.

Again, thank you for contacting McDonald's. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again soon under the Golden Arches.

McDonald's Customer Response Center

The restaurant in question may be a franchise, but the PR nightmare belongs to the Corporate office. I for one will not be eating at a McD's again unless they sort this out and help Mr. Haskett.

Anonymous said...

Might want to publish the address where we can write, to voice displeasure.

I'm not supporting Micky D's any more if this is how they treat their employees (as well as their customers)! They need to pay this fellow's bills, and recognize him as a hero!

Jadiemarie said...

True customer service goes above and beyond employer expectations and earns respect and confidence of those served. If McDonalds will not at the least, settle, they do not deserve such dedicated employees. I know jobs are scarce but I have always done whatever is in my power (and legal of course) to make sure that customers are take care of in the best ways possible. I would be proud to know this gentleman and applaud his dedication to those who he serves. May he find a better job, more deserving of his degree of exceptional customer service.
Also, if I owned a business and my employees were getting shot on premise, I would seriously re-evaluation every business decision I had made regarding that establishment.

Johnny G said...

@JadieMarie - I don't think this has anything to do with customer service. And as good corporate policy, I understand that McDonald's was following the playbook. However, now that they see this situation and realize that this particular situation is unique, they must choose to take Haskett's side. What Haskett did embodied American values. He was standing up against the bully. Standing up for a woman's rights. Standing up for his fellow American. If McDonalds doesn't help this guy out, they are going against American values.

I hope someone from McDonalds is reading this right now and realizing that this issue is a potential timebomb for them. Do the right thing and defuse the bomb now. I have formed a group on facebook to encourage boycott's UNTIL the issue is settled. I encourage anyone that agrees with me on this issue to do the same in their own way. Get the word out. Make it a PR nightmare, because it simply isn't one yet.

Facebook group name: Boycott McDonalds Until They Pay Nigel Haskett's Workers Comp

Lauren said...

It's just pure irony that one woman spills hot coffee all over herself and gets a huge settlement out of McDonalds, and now this man is actually wounded, injured on the job and he can't get that fat corporation to cough up money.

We need tort reform. Yesterday. Not that that would help this man's case, I'm sure if he has a sufficient lawyer, he will get his medical bills taken care of at the very least. But tort reform would keep the lawyers from tying up the courts with frivolous cases of negligence on the part of the consumer (coffee-spilling is not a fault of the company, it's a negligent act by a consumer).


Lauren you are incorrect we do not need tort reform. The hot coffee case you are referring by McDonalds own admission was served 30 degrees hotter than any other coffee at any one else and hotter than the recomended temperature that as a result was to hot to drunk upon purchase, had caused severe third degree burns to multiple people prior to the case including employees, and mcdonalds by its own admission knew what was occuring, yet refused to make any changes.
The case was about the negligence of serving the coffee at such a hot temperature that it was known to cause such severe burns, and her total of winnings was decreased by her percentage of fault. The car which was parked at the time, the cup was not properly insulated. that was negligence on mcdonalds part. read the case and know the law or stfu idiot.

Also in this case the law is clear he does not deserve anymoney. Mcdonalds for once is in the right.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what McDonald's may or may not of preached in their orientation, Nigel did what any *real* man would of done, went to the rescue of a woman in distress..KUDOS to Nigel..God bless you and prayers are for you towards your recovery...



Anonymous said...

For one thing, most of these fast food places, just throw new employees in a room turn on the vcr and there is all the training you get. For the most part, people probably don't even watch it. Now, I have worked convenience stores, and have been told if they come to rob you, give them the money, I understand this. But in this particular case, it was not a robbery. I doubt if any store or restaurant, tells perspective employees, "if a domestic situation occurs, stay out of it, just call 911" "we don'
;t want you protecting the store employees, or our customers!" This is an entirely different situation, that does not happen everyday, I don't see things like this put into new employee training sessions/manuals. This man did his civic and human duty, in defense of another, and to protect employees, and customer's of McDonalds. If this is the than ks this Hero gets, for being a citizen, and defending and protecting others, then my Money is best spent elsewhere. With businesses like Mcdonalds, the only thing they understand is money, or the lack of it. You have to talk with your wallet. I urge ALL McDonalds customers, to give up one week of eating at that restaurant, and use that money to donate to this man's fund. I have just donated $40, and I will not eat there all week, probably even longer, there are too many other choices for me to be handcuffed to Mcdonalds. If other people followed suit, it would make a difference, and might even persuade McDonalds to do the right thing. Shame on McDonalds!!!

Anonymous said...

I realize that most McDonald's are independently owned and operated, but I will not take my family to another McDonald's until they make things right with this brave man.

As my family eats at a McDonald's once or twice a week, this will not make a dent. But, if other individuals and families join in, we can make it far more expensive to McDonald's than $300,000.

Lauren said...


I've had enough professors to know that I'll take my dad's opinion on this over what any professor says any day of the week.

Let me assure you, he's more intelligent than any of you. The frivolous case load that is weighing down this country is a serious problem, whether or not any single 'TORT LAW PROFESSOR' wants to admit to it or not.

Also, I've taken a Law and Economics class where we discussed this case. Just because the letter of the law says that the woman deserves money doesn't mean justice is actually being served. For that matter, I don't care if McDonalds pays this man's medical bills, but if the injurer does not have the funds, then McD's should foot the bill.

I want a reform of the entire justice system. What do you think about that, Mr. Professor?


Lauren, my feeling is your father has never been a lawyer, never practiced law, and his knowledge of the overall justice system is minimal.

In law and economics class I am sure you saw portions of this case not all of it. And yes justice was done, a company was negligent in serving a product they KNEW by their OWN admission to be dangerous, one they were WARNED about prevously would cause harm, and that was served at such a temperature it was undrinkable, yet becuase of the cost of upgrading the machines to the company they refused to do it. Yes that is justice.

I want reform as well I think many cases are frivolous, but I do not diminish those that are real in an attempt to distinguish those that are wrong. Cases involving fraud, misrepresentaiton of facts, or suits filed for the purpose of being such a pain in the butt to settle should be barred from court. However, cases such as the one against Microsoft for false advertising are legitimate tortuous acts and deserve a day in court. You want to change the system to eliminate all cases, good and bad, that shows a lack of intelligent thought, and a bias of corporate greed only not caring about consumers. I have defended and prosecuted corporations and see both sides of this , you clearly cannot.

Generala said...

I just saw this story on ABC. Will never eat at Mcdonalds again!

Please check out this story for a similar situation involving a hotel worker

Anonymous said...

Please consider donating to Haskett's medical fund. While McDonald's screws around with court proceedings putting off their responsibility, Haskett has almost no money with which to cover his medical bills. Putting off a physical when you're healthy and young is usually not so risky, but it's not an option after you've been shot in the chest! Please consider sending even a few bucks: (see bottom right corner of the page). This will likely end up just as the infamous coffee incident did: McDonald's wont pay what are, to them, minimal medical bills and will instead be maid to pay millions. THAT hurts all of us.

Anonymous said...

Umm... you all don't understand. McDonalds purchases a workers comp insurance policy from an insurance company. They have no more control over whether that insurance company pays the claim or refuses it than you do when you put in a claim to any of your various insurance policies.

It the insurance company that is trying to weasel out of the claim... not McDonalds. It is typical for workers comp insurance companies to deny any claim automatically. They have nothing to lose. If it goes to workers comp court and they lose... they pay. If they win (even if it was a one in a million chance to win) then that is one more claim they don't have to pay. There is absolutely no incentive for them to pay... even if they absolutely know thay'll end up paying in the future.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me McDonalds is SELF INSURED. They use the RKFL firm to MANAGE their payments of Worker's Comp. In other words, McDonalds appears to pay their own workers comp claims based on whether RKFL ('the insurance company') tells them they have to or not. McDonalds appears to be totally passing the buck and avoiding responsibility here. Coca-Cola company does exactly the same thing using an 'insurance manager' called UNAM, which also has a very bad rep. McDonald's and Coke hire firms like RKFL and UNAM to be their attack dogs and then hide behind them.

Mike Mongo said...

Since this incident, I have refused to eat at or support McDonald's. I have eaten McDonald's my entire life. More recently, I reserved my McDonald's for road trips as a treat (I travel frequently.) No longer.

At least not for the time being. In fact, the reason I am posting this is because I went into a McDonald's today and almost ordered. Then I remembered my commitment, and I left went to the store next door, and came back to the office where I googled Nigel Haskett McDonalds, and this what came up.

I refuse to support an operation that refuses to support the people who support it. It's simple.

I love McDonald's fries, the Filet of Fish, and even the Coca-Cola at McDonald's. But I prefer to live with integrity.
Mike Mongo
Key West, FL

George said...

Does anyone know the current status of Nigel Haskett?