SNOW HILL – A multi-million dollar civil suit filed in August 2008 by two high-ranking staffers in Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s office and a state official against an Ocean City pizza store and its corporate partners was settled out of court earlier this month.
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s Chief of Staff Demaune Millard, along with Deputy City Solicitor Donald R. Huskey and Deputy Director of Minority Business Enterprise with the state’s Department of Transportation John Carpenter, filed suit against several corporate levels of Domino’s Pizza and a local franchisee, OC Extra Cheese, Inc., in August 2008 seeking a combined $30 million after the local pizzeria allegedly refused to serve them late at night and held them against their will for as long as 10 minutes by refusing to unlock a magnetic door at the entrance of the carryout store. The three plaintiffs were in Ocean City attending the annual Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) convention and entered the pizzeria around 1:30 a.m. after leaving a sanctioned event at a nearby restaurant.
According to the original complaint, Millard, Huskey and Carpenter, left a MACO event at a local restaurant and walked over to the nearby Domino’s on 64th Street. According to the complaint, the “open” sign was still lit and the employees buzzed the three men into the store by activating a magnetic automatic lock on the front door.
However, the situation allegedly went down hill in a hurry when store employees and, ultimately, the on-site manager, refused to serve the three men. According to court documents, the manager said to the trio, “I am not going to serve you. I don’t have time. No service.”
In his deposition, the store owner said later his employees refused to serve Millard, Huskey and Carpenter after repeated attempts to take their order because the trio was “uncooperative and seemed intoxicated.”
After some discussion about why they weren’t being served, including a veiled threat by the manager to call the police if they didn’t leave, the plaintiffs were blocked from leaving by the magnetic door, which had to be activated by store employees.
In May, a Worcester County Circuit Court judge ruled favorably on a motion to dismiss the Dominos’ corporate entities as defendants in the case, citing the parent company’s apparent lack of control over what happened at the franchisee level. However, the case was allowed to move forward against the local company, OC Extra Cheese, Inc. and was settled for an undisclosed amount.