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Man Files Suit Against Newport Hooters After $5,000 Tip He Says is Fraud

Lende Siaka considers himself to be a good-tipper, but not that good.

After visiting the Hooters restaurant at Riverboat Row in Newport on November 25 last year, Siaka said that his $5 tip was made out to be $5,000.

Now, in a lawsuit, Siaka claims that neither Hooters nor his bank, would refund what he calls an error.

“It’s frustrating,” Siaka’s wife Essi Siaka said. She spoke to The River City News on behalf of her husband because English is his second language. “When he first saw the tip listed as $5,000, he wondered how it had happened It just didn’t seem possible.”

Siaka, who has lived in Cincinnati for six years, is originally from West Africa.  

“It’s not fair,” Essi said. “How do you just give $5,000 for a tip without asking about that. It might be because of his accent. I don’t know what the problem is but he’s waited months for this to be taken care of and it hasn’t been. It should have been taken care of right away, but he was told they already gave the money to the lady. How can that be?”

The River City News reached out to Hooters's corporate office for comment but did not receive a response.

Hooters, Chase Bank, and the Hooters employee who received the exorbitant tip are all targets of Siaka's lawsuit filed last week in Campbell County Circuit Court.

According to the suit, after Siaka finished his meal, he received a bill for $40.59.

An image of the receipt, provided to The River City News, shows that on the tip line, 5,000 was written. But Siaka claims that he wrote 5.00, and that someone else added the additional zero bringing the grant total for the night at Hooters in Newport to $5,040.59.

Chase Bank debited the total amount from Siaka's account and charged him overdraft fees.

Siaka contacted the bank, he said, and received a refund on the charge and the fees, but the bank later reversed that decision.

“His bank continues run up overdraft charges on him to this day even though he reported his concerns as soon as he realized what happened,” Siaka’s attorney, John Hayden, said. “It’s a shame that a person of color with limited ability to speak English is taken advantage of when he was just out having a nice dinner.”

Hayden questions where Hooters’s management was to double check the “supposed” tip. Hooters knew or should have known that the tip was excessive and the result of an error or misunderstanding, he said.

“I’ve never heard of something that extreme happening before,” Hayden said. “It probably makes sense to check your accounts online daily, but in (Siaka’s) case, checking after the fact didn’t even help. You wouldn’t know in the restaurant because the tip usually doesn’t get added until later.”

Siaka's fraud suit also targets an unnamed employee, dubbed "Donya" in court documents. It claims that Hooters was aware of an issue and did nothing to resolve it, and that Donya took steps to collect a tip to which she was not entitled.

She allegedly altered the receipt or allowed the receipt to be altered in her favor, according to the complaint.

Siaka is also suing Hooters, “Donya” and Chase Bank for economic duress and negligence, conversion and violations of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act. He is asking that the damages, and attorney fees and costs.

“A person shouldn’t have to file a lawsuit just to get a company to do the right thing,” Hayden said.

Written by Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor

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