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Man seeks $500M in suit against firm

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By Johnathan Ryan

A North Carolina man has filed a $500 million dollar lawsuit against ZF Lemforder Corp., claiming he was subjected to regular torture over a four-year period by various employees who thought he was gay.

Columbia lawyer Benjamin Mabry filed the suit on behalf of Kenneth Baucom, who worked at the ZF Commerical Suspension Systems & Components facility at Lancaster Business Park facility until late last year.

The suit was filed at the Lancaster County Courthouse on Wednesday.

"Defendants ZF assaulted, battered, horribly tortured, humiliated, degraded and otherwise severely harmed Plaintiff both physically and emotionally," the suit reads.

The lawsuit lists six causes of action: intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, negligent supervisor/retention, false imprisonment, slander/defamation per se and invasion of privacy.

The lawsuit claims Baucom was abused by fellow employees between 2003 and 2007.

Baucom was compelled to go along with the torture to convince his co-workers to go easier on him, the lawsuit claims.

Baucom was once stripped and bound with telephone wire to a forklift and driven around the plant, the lawsuit claims. In another incident, his underwear was ripped from his body and hung from the plant's time clock for others to see, the suit claims.

The latter incident was reported to management, but management responded by making a mockery of the situation, the suit claims.

"Virtually all of the horrors were known to Defendants ZF, and condoned, encouraged and/or participated in by these corporations, their management and/or alter egos," the lawsuit reads.

Despite complaints to management, no corrective action was taken, the suit alleges. The suit claims Baucom stayed at the job to support his wife and two disabled children, and his submission to torture was a condition for him staying employed.

Another former Lancaster ZF employee reported over 100 times to management the torture, as well as claims she was being sexually harassed by workers at the plant, but nothing was done, the suit alleges. Mabry has filed an accompanying suit for this employee, claiming negligent supervision/retention of defendants at the Lancaster ZF facility.

Mabry is seeking a jury trial in the Baucom suit.

"I look forward to presenting the case to a Lancaster County jury," he said.

Baucom is now "under intensive psychiatric care, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and other serious psychological conditions as the direct result of the atrocities committed upon him," the suit said. Baucom is also disabled from working, the lawsuit reads.

Company disputes claims

Frank Buscemi, public relations manager for ZF Lemforder, North America, said the company will dispute the suit's claims in court.

"We vigorously deny these allegations and will deny them in court," he said Friday. "This company has a good reputation for how employees are treated at our facilities."

ZF is a supplier of commercial suspension systems and components. With headquarters in Friedrichshafen, Germany, ZF is a leading worldwide supplier of driveline and chassis technology.

Contact Johnathan Ryan at 416-8416 or jryan@thelancasternews.com