Attorney Jay Kelley III, of the law firm Elk & Elk, represents Theo Stokes of Chagrin Falls. Kelley filed the lawsuit on Stokes’ behalf and names Shake Shack and several Shake Shack employees as defendants.
“It’s something that you can’t make up and almost can’t comprehend,” Kelley told the FOX 8 I-Team. “Something that starts out as a simple trip for a burger, then turns into interaction that is a TikTok video, then turns into an hourlong holding, robbery and assault. It is something beyond comprehension and it definitely left a mark.”
Stokes alleges he went to Shake Shack on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland on April 19, 2022, to buy some food. The suit states he ended up being assaulted and robbed.
Stokes went to the restaurant with friends, and while they were there, they made a TikTok video. The lawsuit states the employees let Stokes and his friends use the cash register and go behind the grill. However, a short time later, Stokes alleges the employees started threatening him.
“Between approximately 8:30 p.m and 9:15 p.m., Stokes and one of the other individuals in his party were surrounded and isolated at a Shake Shack table with force and under threats of violence,” the suit states. “During this time frame verified on surveillance video, Stokes was taken back and forth to the rear of the restaurant where a diamond necklace was ripped off his neck, a watch was removed, his car keys were taken, cell phone taken, and wallet and contents taken. All items were taken with force and verbal threats of violence. These actions were visible to other employees in the course and scope of their employment.”
The lawsuit further states that Stokes was jumped by two employees who were on the clock at that time. The suit also states his car, watch and necklace were all stolen. The car was later returned.
“He did not get the watch or necklace back,” Kelley said.
We reached out to Shake Shack to discuss the lawsuit. A spokesperson released a statement.
“The health and safety of our guests and team members remains a top priority,” it reads. “We do not comment on pending litigation.”
Some of the employees alleged to be involved in the robbery and assault have also been criminally charged. Two of the employees, one a juvenile, have pleaded guilty to charges.
According to a transcript of the sentencing of one employee, a defense attorney said that employee had since been promoted at Shake Shack. We asked Shake Shack if that was true and we were told the employee had been fired. A spokesperson at Shake Shack did not say if the other employees had also been fired.
Other employees may be named in the lawsuit.
“The absolute absence of a single employee stepping up boggles my mind more than anything,” Kelley said.