FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Orange County-based Ghassemian Law Group and Gokal Law Group today announced a lawsuit filed against Schwan’s Company, a Marshall, MN-based multibillion-dollar private food company whose brands include Red Baron, Mrs. Smith’s, Tony’s, and many others. The civil complaint alleges assault, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, vicarious liability, and negligent hiring, training, and supervision.
The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court, Sonoma County (case #SVC262079), stems from a March 7, 2016 incident in which one of Schwan’s delivery drivers, offering to help a stranded 19 year-old female motorist, attacked and carried her to the Schwan’s truck where he sexually assaulted her. According to information obtained by the victim’s attorneys, the Schwan’s driver had at least one prior criminal record in which he was charged with assaulting another woman.
In the subject case, according to the incident report filed by the California Highway Patrol (Report #F-031-150-16 dated March 7, 2016), Schwan’s employee Alex Joseph Greene, 36, was driving a Schwan’s Consumer Brands Inc. truck on March 7, 2016 and, after having made deliveries to Safeway, Lucky’s, Raley’s, Walmart and Food Maxx in Mendocino County, spotted the victim “Jane Doe” with a flat tire just before 11 a.m. Upon recognizing the Schwan’s Company name and logo, the young woman accepted the Schwan’s driver’s offer of help.
Greene was later arrested and jailed at the Mendocino County Jail where he was charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and sexual penetration. Subsequently, on June 13, 2017, he was convicted of felony assault with intent to rape and sentenced to two years in state prison, Mendocino County Superior Criminal Court Case #20171107031 - People v. Greene.
Attorney Alison Gokal, Founder and Principal of the Gokal Law Group representing Ms. Doe, says her client is a young, petite woman who – prior to the attack – was a highly independent individual and pianist with a love for outdoor activities.
“She was physically brutalized and emotionally traumatized. Schwan’s should accept responsibility for the actions of their uniformed and on-the-clock employee,” says Ms. Gokal.
Co-counsel, Mahyar Ghassemian of the Ghassemian Law Group, says Schwan’s driver, Mr. Greene, had a prior criminal record of assaulting another woman (cited below). “Our complaint alleges Schwan’s driver used our client’s trust in the company’s name to attack and violate her. We are asking Schwan’s leadership to uphold their employee code of conduct: ‘Demonstrate in both words and actions what it means to act with integrity,’” she added.
On Jan. 25, 2002, Mr. Greene was the subject of a criminal complaint in which the charge was: “Inflict Corporal Injury on Spouse/Cohabitant,” (Lake County, CA Superior Criminal Court case #CL29853.01, “People vs. Alex Joseph Greene,” under Penal Code 273.5(a)).” He was subsequently charged in that jurisdiction on Feb. 15, 2002.
Ms. Gokal notes, “If Schwan’s had done a better job of vetting its employees, this violent sexual assault of my client should not have occurred.”
According to a US News, Nov. 18, 2018 story, “Schwan’s Co., a food distributor with deep roots in Minnesota known for its gold home-delivery trucks, has been sold to South Korea’s largest food manufacturer. Seoul-based CJ CheilJedang will pay $1.8 billion for an 80 percent stake in Schwan’s and gain control of its businesses that serve restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers, the companies said in a statement Thursday. The deal is expected to close early next year.
“Schwan’s has about $3 billion in annual sales and employs about 12,000. The company offers frozen and ready-made products, including Red Baron, Freschetta and Tony’s pizzas, Mrs. Smith’s pies, Edwards desserts and Pagoda Asian-style snacks. Schwan’s also has a food service business that sells to schools, hospitals and other institutions.”
Trial for the civil case against Schwan’s Company (referenced above) is set for June 21, 2019 in Sonoma County Superior Court.