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AFTAB PUREVAL

HAMILTON COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS

COMMON PLEAS DIVISION

ELECTRONICALLY FILED
July 12, 2021 09:50 AM
AFTAB PUREVAL
Clerk of Courts
Hamilton County, Ohio
CONFIRMATION 1086741

KENNETH SEYFRIED A 2102367


vs.
THE KROGER COMPANY

FILING TYPE: INITIAL FILING (IN COUNTY) WITH JURY


DEMAND
PAGES FILED: 30

EFR200

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COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
HAMILTON COUNTY, OHIO

KENNETH C. SEYFRIED, : Case No.


Individually and as the Administrator of :
The Estate of Evan Seyfried, :
c/o FREKING MYERS & REUL LLC :
600 Vine Street 9th Floor :
Cincinnati, OH 45202 :
:
Plaintiff, : Judge
:
v. :
:
THE KROGER CO. : COMPLAINT WITH JURY DEMAND
1014 Vine Street :
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 :
Please Also Serve :
Corporation Service Co., :
50 W. Broad St. :
Suite 1330 :
Columbus, OH 43215 :
:
and :
:
SHANNON FRAZEE :
c/o The Kroger Co., :
1014 Vine Street :
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 :
:
and :
:
JOSEPH PIGG :
c/o The Kroger Co., :
1014 Vine Street :
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 :
:
Defendants. :

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INTRODUCTION

1. This is a wrongful death action inter alia against Defendant The Kroger Co., as

well as Defendants Shannon Frazee and Joseph Pigg individually and in their official

capacities as supervisors within the framework of The Kroger Co., for their multitude of

failures in exercising any reasonable care in their duties as an employer to Decedent Evan

Seyfried causing his death on March 9, 2021. 1

PARTIES

2. Plaintiff Kenneth C. Seyfried (“Ken”), an Ohio resident, is the duly appointed

Administrator of the Estate of Evan Seyfried (“Estate”), deceased.

3. Plaintiff is the father of Decedent Evan Seyfried (“Evan”), who died without a

surviving spouse or children.

4. Plaintiff brings this action as the personal representative of the Estate to recover

damages on behalf of himself and any and all next of kin pursuant to R.C. § 2125.02.

5. Defendant The Kroger Co. (“Defendant” or “Kroger”) is a domestic corporation.

6. At all times relevant herein, Defendant owned, managed, and operated the Kroger

store located at 824 Main Street, Milford, Ohio 45150.

7. Defendants Shannon Frazee (“Frazee”) and Joseph Pigg (“Pigg”) are residents of

Ohio.

8. At all times relevant herein, Frazee and Pigg were management-level supervisors

at the Kroger store located at 824 Main Street, Milford, Ohio 45150.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1
Throughout this Complaint, The Kroger Co. will be identified as “Defendant”. Collectively, The Kroger Co.,
Frazee, and Pigg will be referred to as “Defendants”. Plaintiff further reserves right to add additional named
Defendants as ascertained through discovery.

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9. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant which is an Ohio corporation

with its principal place of business located in Hamilton County, Ohio, transacts business

in Ohio, and has caused tortious injury in Ohio.

10. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants Frazee and Pigg who are

Ohio residents.

11. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over these claims as the alleged

damages exceed $25,000.

12. This Court is a proper venue as Defendants conducted activity in Hamilton

County, Ohio that gave rise to the legal claims in this Complaint.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

13. In the early morning of March 9, 2021, Evan, a man with no prior history of

severe mental health concerns, slashed his arms, wrist, and throat, dying by suicide

within minutes.

14. Evan was a nineteen-year veteran of Kroger and the Dairy Department manager at

the Milford, Ohio location. Evan was dedicated to his career with Kroger. In return,

Kroger intentionally subjected Evan to torturous conditions that were directly responsible

for his death.

KROGER

15. Kroger is a North American retailer headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was

founded in 1883 and incorporated in 1902. In the 138 years of its operation, Kroger

claims to have been a leading pioneer and innovator among the food retail industry.2

2
See The History of Kroger, The Kroger Co., https://www.thekrogerco.com/about-kroger/history/.

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16. “With nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states…and annual sales of more than $121.1

billion, Kroger today ranks as one of the world’s largest retailers.”3

17. According to Kroger’s 2019 Factbook, it employs nearly 500,000 associates4 in

total.5

18. In Ohio alone, Kroger owns and operates 213 food stores, 16 convenience stores,

and 14 jewelry stores, employing a total of 43,850 associates.6

19. The vast majority of these stores are centered in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton,

and Toledo.7

20. To truly understand the absolute tragedy of Evan’s death, first look to Kroger’s

own policies and deceptive media portrayal as a community-based, inclusive grocery

market.

21. Rodney McMullen (“McMullen”), the Chairman and CEO of Kroger, states,

“[W]e are driven to do more and help make the lives of those around us better….[W]e

have…held true to Our Values of integrity, honesty, diversity, inclusion, safety, and

respect.”8 McMullen adds, “To live by Our Values means we lead by example even

when it’s hard…and ensure our associates…feel safe and valued.”9 This statement was

made public on July 15, 2020, less than three months before the Milford Kroger

3
Id.
4
Defendant refers to all its employees as “associates”. As a result, we will refer to “associates” rather than
“employees”.
5
2019 Fact-Book, The Kroger Co., at 3,
https://s1.q4cdn.com/137099145/files/doc_downloads/irw/fact_books/2019-Fact-Book.pdf.
6
Ohio One-Pager, The Kroger Co., https://www.thekrogerco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ohio-one-pager.pdf.
7
Id.
8
Kroger’s Blueprint for Businesses, The Kroger Co., at 2, https://www.thekrogerco.com/wp-
content/uploads/2020/04/Krogers-Blueprint-for-Businesses.pdf.
9
Id.

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management engaged in a campaign of terror against Evan and eight months before

Evan’s death.

22. On Oct. 26, 2020, Kroger announced its Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity

& Inclusion. The intention was to create “a more equitable workplace where every

associate is empowered and supported and feels valued and a sense of belonging.”10 Less

than five months after this framework was announced, Evan took his own life due to the

sustained and consistent torture inflicted upon him by his Kroger supervisors and

coworkers.

23. Kroger’s Policy on Business Ethics states, “Each associate has an obligation to

deal with other associates in a professional manner…”11 Further, “[a]ll associates are

obligated to report to the company any known or suspected…violations of law or this

policy…”12 Kroger maintains a helpline at 800-689-4609 for the submission of any

concerns associates may have.13 Evan and his coworkers were aware of, and futilely

attempted to make use of, this helpline before and after his death.

24. Kroger requires managers to “follow-through” by “investigat[ing] any suspicion

that unethical or illegal activities are taking place…”14 Evan’s complaints went largely

ignored.

10
Kroger Announces Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Plan to Uplift Associates, Customers and
Communities, The Kroger Co., https://ir.kroger.com/CorporateProfile/press-releases/press-release/2020/Kroger-
Announces-Framework-for-Action-Diversity-Equity--Inclusion-Plan-to-Uplift-Associates-Customers-and-
Communities/default.aspx.
11
Policy on Business Ethics, The Kroger Co., at 8,
http://s1.q4cdn.com/137099145/files/doc_downloads/irw/governance_internal_page_documents/Policy-on-
Business-Ethics.pdf.
12
Id.
13
Id. at 8.
14
Id.

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25. Kroger requires annual certification from all associates, officers, and directors

affirming their understanding of Kroger’s Policy on Business Ethics.15 Despite this,

Evan’s litany of complaints were disregarded by associates, officers, and directors.

26. Kroger’s Policy on Business Ethics contains specific provisions against

retaliation, harassment, and sexual harassment.16 The Policy contains specific

instructions on reporting practices, including writing a statement and informing a

supervisor or calling the Kroger helpline.17 Evan followed these instructions. Despite

Kroger’s assertion that “[a]ll claims of harassment will be investigated promptly and will

be handled professionally…”18, Evan’s complaints went unheard, uninvestigated, and/or

inappropriately investigated which resulted in his untimely death.

27. As the Nation’s largest supermarket, Kroger has ostensibly considered every facet

of workplace comfort and security protocols, from its “primary brand color”—blue,

because it represents “safety and trust”19—to detailed harassment reporting guidelines.

Yet, Kroger’s associate of nineteen years, despite dutifully following every procedure

and guideline, is now dead.

OCTOBER 2020 TO THE END OF FEBRUARY 2021

28. Each of the above statements, purported values, and official policies were

recklessly, willfully, and wantonly disregarded and/or breached by Kroger associates and

agents during the following events leading up to Evan’s death.

15
Id.
16
Id. at 8, 15-17.
17
Id. at 16.
18
Id.
19
Our Brand, The Kroger Co., https://www.thekrogerco.com/about-kroger/our-brand/.

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29. Beginning on or around October 2020, Milford location store manager, Shannon

Frazee (“Frazee”) began a campaign dedicated to ousting Evan while proclaiming her

intention to make Evan’s life a “living hell”.

30. Frazee partially based her contempt for Evan off his concerns surrounding

COVID-19. Consistent with Kroger’s numerous published statements and policies

mandating masks within the store, Evan wore a mask to protect himself and his

customers from the pandemic. Evan was mocked and humiliated for this by Frazee

despite her position as store manager.

31. Frazee pitted associates against each other based not only on their willingness to

follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, but also on their political ideologies. Evan was

consistently mocked and harassed. Coworkers referred to him as “antifa”. Frazee placed

specific pressure on Evan and other associates with differing political opinions.

32. In addition to the hazing, taunting, and bullying, Frazee also made multiple

unwanted sexual advances to Evan, which he reported with zero recourse.

33. Frazee’s campaign against Evan continued when she and other agents began

purposely leaving holes in the Dairy Department schedules resulting in a huge backlog of

product, uncleaned shelving units, and incorrectly shelved product.

34. The extra work it took to get the Dairy Department back on schedule fell to Evan,

who was denied the overtime he needed to complete his tasks by Frazee.

35. Beginning in late 2020, unidentified persons began to follow Evan home from

work. Evan, his family, and his friends believed that these are the coworkers Frazee

pitted against Evan. That Evan was being stalked was confirmed not only by his parents,

who on two separate occasions witnessed Evan being followed home, but also by Evan’s

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neighbors who commented on the neighborhood webpage that there were occupied,

unfamiliar vehicles parked on the street for unusually long periods of time. This behavior

continued until Evan’s death.

36. Beginning on or around December 2020 and continuing to late February 2021,

Evan began to have confrontations with both Frazee and Joseph Pigg (“Pigg”). While

pressure from Frazee intensified for the Dairy Department and Evan, the targeted

personal harassment also increased.

37. In late January 2021, Evan entered Pigg’s office to use the copier. While there,

Pigg informed Evan that his access to the Kroger system meant that he could tap into

Evan’s computer and track Evan and his internet usage at all times. Evan took this

statement to be a serious threat.

38. Around the last week of January 2021, Frazee hired the sister and brother-in-law

of another agent at the Milford location, Cody, the Grocery Manager.20 A general

consensus was reached that the brother-in-law would replace Evan once he was

terminated. Associates began to gossip about Evan, including making comments that

Evan’s “days [were] numbered.”

39. On or around February 20, 2021, Evan was beaten down by the constant

harassment. He stepped down as the Departmental Manager of the Dairy section and

requested a transfer to a different Kroger location. His request for immediate transfer

was denied. He was told management would need sixty days to honor his request. Evan

feared that Frazee was keeping him at the Milford location in order to secure his

termination, rather than his transfer.

20
As of now, we do not have Cody’s last name, nor the names of his sister and brother-in-law.

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40. On February 22, 2021, Evan’s coworker and friend, “Associate”, called the union

representative Steven Nichols (“Nichols”). She complained of a general toxic work

environment.

41. Five days later on February 28, 2021, Associate texted Evan to tell him that he

should also talk to Nichols about the harassment. Associate specifically said that she

wanted to call Nichols about feeling bullied and harassed. Associate said she also wanted

to call the Ethics helpline. She had been hesitant to call the helpline before but said, “it’s

going to [sic] far especially with you and [Other Associate]21.”

42. Around this same time, two young, female associates went to Evan to tell him that

they were sexually harassed by Pigg. Evan brought the female associates to the store’s

union representative and helped them report Pigg for sexual harassment. As a result of

the report, Pigg was transferred from the Milford store. Approximately two weeks later,

Pigg was transferred back and reinstated at the Milford location as the Security Manager.

43. After Evan reported Pigg, every type of harassment Evan had faced intensified.

44. Unidentified persons, ostensibly Evan’s coworkers, continued to follow Evan

home. At this point, Evan also started receiving threatening text messages from

unidentified numbers. Some of the texts read, “Are you going to sue the company?” and

“Are you going to try and get us?” Evan read some of these texts out loud to his parents.

45. During this time, Evan also had another confrontation with Frazee about her

unprofessional behavior. He complained to the union and a follow up meeting was set

for March 8, 2021. After this confrontation, Frazee was heard saying that she would

make Evan’s life a “living hell.” Frazee succeeded in every conceivable way.

21
Other Associate, whose last name is unknown, is another Kroger associate and friend of Associate. Other
Associate was also harassed into quitting by Frazee.

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46. As time went on, Kroger’s conduct continued to devolve into outrageous

behavior. Evan’s Dairy product was being sabotaged and destroyed by Frazee’s scheme,

posing a danger both to Evan and consumers alike. In addition to the extra work Evan

was expected to complete, damaged and out of date stock began to show up on shelves in

the Dairy Department. Evan was consequently written up. He had never had any

disciplinary action before in his nineteen years with Kroger.

47. The damaged and out of date stock continued to appear despite Evan’s attempts to

personally double check and even take photographic evidence of the shelves to document

the stock.

48. Frazee convinced Evan’s coworkers to meddle with the Dairy stock in an attempt

to fabricate a reason for Evan’s termination.

49. One of Evan’s associates in the Dairy section resigned because he refused to be a

part of the orchestrated campaign against Evan.

50. Said associate was never replaced. His departure only made management

“c[o]me down harder on Evan.”

51. By the end of February 2021, Evan was still being followed home and whomever

was sending the threatening texts had begun to send Evan texts containing explicit child

pornography.

52. At this point in time, Evan was in frequent contact with his union representatives.

53. Evan’s situation was so dire, two separate associates contacted Evan’s parents to

express their concern about Evan’s wellbeing.

MARCH 1, 2021

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54. On Monday March 1, 2021, Evan spoke to his union representatives about leaving

the Milford location as soon as possible.

55. Another associate went to Evan concerned there was yogurt product on the

shelves that was not appropriately marked down. Evan did not have access to a printer or

extra help in order to get through the backlog of outdated items. Evan consistently

worried about this interaction throughout the rest of the week.

MARCH 3, 2021

56. On Wednesday March 3, 2021, Evan was sexually harassed again by Frazee.

Evan’s handwritten and signed note reads in part:

I paged Shannon [Frazee] over to Dairy to go over the standards for


the [department audit] tomorrow. I asked her about the standards
for filling the bunker (the bunker toward the front of the store).
While talking with me, she leaned over directly in my line of sight.
This made me uncomfortable. I shifted my position in order that she
not be in my line of sight. She again placed herself in my line of
sight, exposing her cleavage to me. We walked to the front
refidgerator [sic], still discussing standards. At this point I even
took off my glasses, so I wouldn’t see her as clearly, awkwardly
saying I can’t see as well up close without them. She replied, no
problem hun, or possibly honey. I do not know her motivations for
this, but I felt uncomfortable. She has taken a flirtatious demenor
[sic] two or three times before, also making me uncomfortable.

57. Evan texted Associate about this interaction later that day.

58. Evan also requested to be transferred to the day shift.

MARCH 4, 2021

59. Thursday March 4, 2021, was a pivotal point in the lead up to Evan’s death. A

store-wide audit was scheduled with the Regional Manager. Evan felt that if he were

written up during this audit, he would be fired. He thought that Frazee and others

involved would also use that chance to gratuitously accuse him of crimes, such as

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property theft or possession of child pornography based on their stated abilities to hack

into his personal devices using Kroger-sponsored technology.

60. At 2 a.m., Evan found an associate taking pictures of the shelves in the Dairy

Department. She told Evan that she would be passing outdated products directly to

Frazee and that she had been doing so since January 2021.

61. At 4 a.m., Evan found outdated milk on the shelf. He scanned it and removed it.

62. Two hours later, at 6 a.m., Evan found another outdated milk on the same shelf.

He scanned it, removed it, and took a picture of the shelf to assure himself that there were

no outdated products left on the shelf.

63. At 8:23 a.m., Evan found a third outdated milk on the same shelf. He scanned

and removed this milk and notified a union steward that he was being sabotaged.

64. At 10:05 a.m., Evan found yet another outdated milk on the same shelf.

65. At 10:45 a.m., Evan wrote that a “couple posing as customers…came through.”

Evan described the couple as a 5’10” bald man with a fake Spanish accent and a 5’6”

brunette woman. The couple went through the dairy section filming the dairy doors and

bunker. Evan believed they were store security posing as customers to put outdated

product in his section.

66. At 10:58 a.m., Evan writes, “woman came through end of aisle 25 asking for

brown paper bags…asked her if I could check the dates [of her yogurt], she agreed [sic]

we checked the dates, two or three of the Go-Gurt or Yoplait boxes she checked, I did

not. She became nervous and went to look for brown paper bags.”

67. After these events, at 11:35 a.m., Associate called the Ethics helpline and spoke to

them for a total of twenty-two minutes. She informed the helpline that Frazee was

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“bullying people to step down to replace them with people she wanted.” Associate asked

the helpline to investigate how many people had stepped down from management

positions or quit in the past year. She informed them that she felt targeted and that she

felt she needed to take pictures of her work to protect herself from false claims. She

asked the helpline to pull the store security films to see if people were planting product in

Evan’s department.

68. Evan’s department had been scheduled to be audited earlier in the day, but the

time kept getting pushed back. Evan thought Frazee and management were trying to

push the audit back until he left so they could falsify violations.

69. Evan stayed late trying to make sure he would be in the department to witness the

audit, but the audit was pushed back so late that he had to leave.

70. Management found nine violations after Evan left. Before the abovementioned

events, Evan had never had a violation in his nineteen years at Kroger.

71. Evan once again spoke to his union representative about feeling targeted by

Frazee. He wrote, “Shannon [Frazee] is holding me in this store in order to set me up to

be fired for insubordination specifically for not checking yogurt dates.” Evan was still

worried about the interaction he had with another associate on March 1. He wrote, “I

have been written up for not checking yogurt dates once, and this would result,

potentially, in my termination.” In this meeting, Evan spoke again with his union

representative about leaving the Milford location as soon as possible. Evan’s note about

this meeting ended, “I’m concerned about retaliation.”

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72. Evan was distraught. Between the audit, the stalkers, the threatening text

messages and child pornography, and the general toxic workplace environment, Evan felt

unsafe. He moved back in with his parents that night.

MARCH 5, 2021

73. On March 5, 2021, Evan continued to be targeted and harassed.

74. At 8:15 a.m., someone took the scan gun Evan had been logged into. Evan found

it about five minutes later. Before it automatically timed out, he saw that whoever took

the gun had been scanning product on his account.

75. Around 8:30 a.m., Frazee sent another associate to Evan with a list of her

concerns about the Dairy aisle. Evan thought this was a trick by Frazee to get under

Evan’s skin and force him into a reaction.

76. At 8:44 a.m., a customer found Evan and handed him sour cream with a fresh cut

in the container. The customer said, “this would only cause you problems later.”

77. Around 9 a.m., other associates began to find outdated milk in the breakroom.

One associate asked Evan if he knew anything about it.

78. At the end of his shift Evan texted Associate, “Today was worse than imagined.

The situation at the store is far far [sic] beyond inappropriate. This place is not a safe

place to be. Its [sic] ugly.”

79. Later, Evan texted Associate, “Think the company we work for has done

something to my phone. Have more interaction with undercover store security than

customers. Union members working in tandem with management to get me fired. This is

totally out of control.”

MARCH 6, 2021

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80. By Friday March 6, 2021, Evan was completely panicked about the results of the

audit. He was scheduled to meet with Frazee on Monday, March 9. Evan was convinced

that he would not only be terminated at the March 9 meeting, but also that Frazee and

management would gratuitously present criminal charges against him.

81. Seeing no other way forward, Evan told his union representative that he quit,

effective immediately.

82. At some point after this, one of Evan’s Dairy Department workers also quit,

claiming he could not work without Evan there.

MARCH 7, 2021

83. Just as predicted in February, Cody’s brother-in-law replaced Evan as the Dairy

Department Manager.

84. Evan continued to worry about unfounded criminal charges including property

theft and possession of child pornography. Evan still believed Pigg had access to his

phone.

MARCH 8, 2021

85. Evan and his father decided to go to the law firm of O’Connor Acciani & Levy, a

personal injury firm in downtown Cincinnati, to see if anything could be done about

Evan’s phone.

86. Before Evan and his father entered the O’Connor Acciani & Levy office, Evan

had his first transient episodic break.

87. Evan ran into the building and subsequently wandered away from his father and

threw away all his possessions. His father found him wandering the streets

approximately two hours later.

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88. Back at home, Evan briefly regained lucidity and agreed to check in to the UC

Crisis Team the morning of March 9.

89. Around midnight, Evan told his father that Frazee and Pigg were going to “get

him” and that “things would get ugly.” These were the last words Evan spoke to his

father before he killed himself. Ken found Evan dead in his room from self-inflicted

wounds to his wrist, arms, and throat about two hours later.

AFTERMATH

90. Even after Evan’s death, more details came to light about the extent of Frazee’s

reign of terror over Milford Kroger associates and Kroger’s outrageous conduct.

91. Two days after Evan’s death on March 11, 2021, Frazee called Eric Seyfried,

Evan’s brother, ostensibly to offer her condolences, though Eric reported that she was

clearly “taking the family’s temperature” regarding future litigation.

92. At some point after Evan’s death, Associate called the Ethics helpline again. She

asked if the Ethics department had ever actually investigated her claims from her twenty-

two-minute call on March 4. She informed them that “the main subject of that call had

took [sic] his own life.” The Ethics department told Associate that they had investigated

her claims and that the investigation had closed before Evan’s death.

93. On April 27, 2021, Associate entered work at the Milford Bakery Department and

found on her counter Evan’s handwritten and dated note concerning the sexual

harassment he suffered from Frazee on March 3. Next to Evan’s note was a department

report signed and dated April 27, 2021, by Frazee herself. Not only was this a vulgar

display of Frazee’s complete lack of humanity and compassion, but it was also a clear

threat and intimidation tactic.

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94. Though Associate expended significant effort helping to gather information about

the events leading up to Evan’s death, she reported that other associates were afraid to

come forward to talk about Evan; the implication here being that Frazee would retaliate

against anyone working against her, just as she did to Evan.

95. At some point after Evan’s death, Kroger rescinded Evan’s resignation status.

96. On June 3, 2021, Evan’s family found a blue binder among his possessions. This

binder contained notes detailing the harassment Evan faced in his time at Kroger.

Among the notes were drafts of the statement he planned to give at the March 9 meeting

where he thought he would be fired and arrested. Evan wrote multiple drafts, all saying

the same thing. “The last six months, I have been dealing with harassment and retaliation

that I feel will result in my unlawful termination…I expect to be terminated. What are

you going to do, what are your next steps to protect me [sic]”.

97. Unfortunately, Evan, who his coworkers knew as “the kindest person in the

store”, was not protected. He was a victim of extreme harassment and Kroger’s objective

negligence, egregious neglect, and outrageous conduct.

98. For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff seeks a jury trial for the following claims.

FIRST CLAIM
ACTION FOR WRONGFUL DEATH

99. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

100. Upon information and belief, Defendants negligently, recklessly, willfully, and/or

wantonly violated Kroger’s own procedures prior to and subsequent to Evan’s death.

101. Defendants, its associates and agents, each failed in their duty to Evan Seyfried to

provide a reasonably safe work environment.

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102. Defendants, its associates and agents, each failed in their duty to Evan to provide

a reasonably safe work environment pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code § 2125.01.

103. Defendants, its associates and agents, each breached their duties of care to Evan

with respect to Kroger’s own policies, procedures, practices, and standards relating to the

creation and preservation of a safe work environment.

104. Defendants, its associates and agents, each breached their duties of care to Evan

with respect to Kroger’s own policies, procedures, practices, and standards relating to the

investigation and management of reported hostile or otherwise unsafe work

environments.

105. Defendants, its associates and agents, each breached their duties of care as

established under any and all applicable directives, mandates, requirements, and

regulations from local, regional, and national governing bodies.

106. Defendants and its associates breached their duties of care and were negligent in

their:

a. Failure to supervise;

b. Failure to monitor;

c. Failure to report;

d. Failure to investigate;

e. Failure to protect; and

f. Failure to keep safe.

107. As a direct and proximate result of the failures and omissions noted above,

Defendants, its associates and agents, each caused the resulting death of Evan, and the

surviving beneficiaries’ resulting damages including but not limited to the loss of Evan’s

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future earning potential, society and companionship, significant grief and mental anguish,

and funeral and burial expenses.

SECOND CLAIM
VICARIOUS LIABILITY, RESPONDEAT
SUPERIOR, OSTENSIBLE AGENCY, AND AGENCY

108. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

109. At all times relevant herein, Defendant’s store management, associates, agents,

and other staff were employed by and/or acting on behalf of Kroger.

110. At all times relevant herein, Defendant’s store management, associates, agents,

and other staff acted within their respective capacities and scope of employment or

agency.

111. Defendant’s store management, associates, agents, and other staff’s negligence

directly and proximately caused the injuries and death suffered by Evan.

112. Defendant is liable for the tortious acts of store management, associates, agents,

and other staff pursuant to vicarious liability, respondeat superior, ostensible agency, and

agency.

113. As a direct and proximate result of the failures and omissions noted above,

Defendant, its associates and agents, each caused the resulting death of Evan, and the

surviving beneficiaries’ resulting damages including but not limited to the loss of Evan’s

future earning potential, society and companionship, significant grief and mental anguish,

and funeral and burial expenses.

THIRD CLAIM
CONSPIRACY

114. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

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115. At all times relevant herein, Defendants, associates and agents, including, but not

limited to, Frazee, Pigg, and regional management, did maliciously engage in conduct

designed to injure Evan.

116. Defendants, its associates and agents, did conspire to sabotage Evan’s work to

secure his constructive discharge.

117. Defendants, its associates and agents, did conspire to threaten and harass Evan by

means of stalking; sexual harassment; and transmitting threatening text messages,

including, but not limited to, the distribution of child pornography to secure his

constructive discharge.

118. This malicious combination did result in actual damages, including, but not

limited to, Evan’s loss of wages due to his wrongful termination via constructive

discharge, Evan’s psychic injuries and all damages directly incurred as a result of those

psychic injuries, and Evan’s death and all damages directly incurred as a result of his

death.

FOURTH CLAIM
INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

119. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

120. Defendants and other staff intentionally engaged in conduct that caused serious

emotional distress to Evan through ongoing conspiracies to sabotage Evan’s work

thereby constructively discharging him; malicious and threatening behavior including

stalking, harassing text messages, and distribution of child pornography; and failure to

report and/or investigate accounts of hostile work environments, harassment, and sexual

harassment.

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121. At all times relevant herein, Defendants and other staff knew or should have

known that their conduct would cause Evan severe emotional distress.

122. The conduct of Defendants and other staff was “so extreme and outrageous as to

go ‘beyond all possible bounds of decency.’” Spitulski v. Bd. Of Educ. Of the Toledo City

Sch. Dist., 2018-Ohio-3984 (Ohio App. Sept. 28, 2018).

123. At all times relevant herein, Defendants’ and other staff’s conduct was the

proximate cause for Evan’s psychic injuries and death. There were no possible

intervening or superseding causes that could explain Evan’s mental breakdown or death,

other than the ongoing mental distress he suffered at the hands of Defendants.

124. The mental anguish suffered by Evan was so serious that no reasonable person

could have been expected to endure it.

FIFTH CLAIM
NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

125. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

126. At all times relevant herein, Defendants, its associates and agents, breached their

duties of care to Evan through ongoing conspiracies to sabotage Evan’s work thereby

constructively discharging him; malicious and threatening behavior including stalking,

harassing text messages, and distribution of child pornography; and failure to report

and/or investigate accounts of hostile work environments, harassment, and sexual

harassment.

127. Defendants, its associates and agents, engaged in conduct that did directly and

proximately cause Evan severe emotional distress. There were no possible intervening or

superseding causes that could explain Evan’s mental breakdown or death, other than the

ongoing mental distress he suffered at the hands of Defendants.

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128. At all times relevant herein, a reasonable person subjected to the same

circumstances and conduct would have suffered similarly severe emotional distress.

SIXTH CLAIM
INVASION OF PRIVACY

129. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

130. Defendants, associates and agents, did intentionally intrude upon Evan’s solitude

and seclusion.

131. Defendants, its associates and agents, did intentionally follow Evan home on

multiple occasions, terrifying him, his family, and his neighbors and causing them

significant mental distress.

132. Defendants, its associates and agents, did intentionally through the use of

telephone communication transmit threating messages to harass and cause Evan mental

distress.

133. Defendants, its associates and agents, did intentionally through the use of

telephone communication transmit obscene, lewd, and pornographic material involving a

minor to harass and cause Evan mental distress.

134. At all times relevant herein, Defendants’ intrusion upon Evan’s solitude and

seclusion would have been highly offensive to a reasonable person.

SEVENTH CLAIM
FALSE LIGHT

135. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

136. At all times relevant herein, Defendants, its associates and agents, knew or should

have known that they were engaging in a campaign comprised of false claims regarding

Evan, his work, and his person.

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137. By engaging in, and encouraging, a conspiracy to sabotage Evan’s work thereby

securing his constructive discharge, Defendants publicly maligned Evan to coworkers,

peers, and supervisors, putting Evan’s future livelihood and career in danger.

138. By engaging in a conspiracy to cause the potential criminal arrest of Evan through

distribution of child pornography, Defendants publicly maligned Evan, endangering his

life and reputation.

139. At all times relevant herein, Defendants, its associates and agents, placed Evan in

a false light that would have been highly offensive to any reasonable person.

EIGHTH CLAIM
EMPLOYER INTENTIONAL TORT

140. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

141. Defendants did intentionally commit tortious acts including, but not limited to,

wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false light, invasion of

privacy, and conspiracy.

142. Defendants’ intentional refusal to supervise its associates, report and/or

investigate accounts coming from the Milford store location, and follow its own policies

directly and proximately led to the Evan’s injuries and death.

143. Defendant is liable for the intentional torts of wrongful death, intentional

infliction of emotional distress, false light, invasion of privacy, and conspiracy pursuant

to Ohio Rev. Code § 2745.01.

NINTH CLAIM
NEGLIGENT HIRING, SUPERVISION, AND RETENTION

144. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

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145. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were negligent in its hiring, training,

supervising, and retaining of its associates and agents including but not limited to its store

management, security manager, HR staff, and remaining staff not herein expressly

identified.

146. At no time did Defendants, associates or agents, report and/or properly investigate

accounts of hostile work environment, harassment, and sexual harassment pursuant to

state and Kroger policies, practices, and procedures. This breach of duty was never

addressed by Defendants and is still not addressed by Defendants as it continues to

negligently retain and employ those associates responsible for Evan’s severe mental

distress and death.

147. Defendants knew or should have known that its negligence in its hiring, training,

supervising, and retaining of the aforementioned rendered its associates unfit and

incompetent. Defendants had a duty to investigate reports and accounts coming out of

the Milford store location.

148. Defendants knew or should have known of its associates’ conduct. But for

Defendants’ reticence to investigate reports and accounts coming from the Milford store

location, Defendant would have known about the unlawful acts and incompetence

displayed at the Milford store location.

149. The conduct, acts, and omissions were the direct and proximate cause of

Plaintiff’s harm. There were no possible intervening or superseding causes that could

explain Evan’s mental breakdown or death, other than the ongoing mental distress he

suffered at the hands of Defendants.

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150. As a direct and proximate result of the failures and omissions noted above,

Defendants, its associates and agents, each caused the resulting death of Evan, and the

surviving beneficiaries’ resulting damages including but not limited to the loss of Evan’s

future earning potential, society and companionship, significant grief and mental anguish,

and funeral and burial expenses.

TENTH CLAIM
NEGLIGENT FAILURE TO PROVIDE

151. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

152. Defendants had a duty to provide supervision, reporting and investigation

procedures, and a safe work environment pursuant to state law, statute, and Defendant’s

own policies.

153. At all relevant times herein, Defendants, its associates and agents, breached its

duties to Evan by failing to provide supervision, reporting and investigation procedures,

and a safe work environment.

154. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ breach of their duties noted

above, Defendants, its associates and agents, each caused the resulting death of Evan, and

the surviving beneficiaries’ resulting damages including but not limited to the loss of

Evan’s future earning potential, society and companionship, significant grief and mental

anguish, and funeral and burial expenses.

ELEVENTH CLAIM
SEXUAL HARASSMENT

155. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

156. Defendants subjected Evan to unwelcome sexual harassment.

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157. This harassment had the effect of creating “an intimidating, hostile or offensive

work environment.” Doe v. Doe Corp., No. L-97-1136, 1998 Ohio App. LEXIS 2391, at

* 19 (Ct. App. June 5, 1998) (citations omitted).

158. Defendants knew or should have known of the sexual harassment because Evan

followed procedures and reported the incident.

159. Even if Defendant did not know of the incident, Frazee was supervisory personnel

and Defendant is liable for her actions.

TWELFTH CLAIM
RETALIATION

160. Defendants, its associates and agents, retaliated against Evan after he reported

Pigg’s sexual harassment of two female associates.

161. Evan’s report against Pigg was protected activity.

162. Following Evan’s report, Frazee was heard saying she would make Evan’s life a

“living hell”. What resulted was a campaign of tortious and extreme conduct leading to

Evan’s constructive discharge, mental distress, and death.

163. Evan’s report was the impetus for many of the most severe actions taken against

him in the workplace, including his eventual constructive discharge.

164. Defendants are liable for the actions of its associates and agents as well as the

campaign of retaliation instituted against Evan.

THIRTEENTH CLAIM
CONSTRUCTIVE DISCHARGE

165. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

166. Defendants, its associates and agents, deliberately imposed intolerable working

conditions upon Evan. Frazee created a hostile work environment at the Milford store

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location by imposing her political beliefs on associates, creating a conspiracy to sabotage

Evan’s work, and sexually harassing Evan.

167. Defendant’s working conditions were so difficult and unpleasant that any

reasonable person would have felt compelled to resign.

FOURTEENTH CLAIM
RECKLESS, WILLFUL, WANTON CONDUCT

168. Plaintiff incorporates in this Claim all allegations listed above.

169. Defendants, its associates and agents, each acted with malice towards Evan

through their conscious disregard for his safety that had a great probability of causing

substantial harm.

170. Through its conduct and/or omissions, Defendants, its associates and agents,

intentionally deviated from a clear duty and/or from a definite rule of conduct with

knowledge and appreciation of the likelihood of resulting harm.

171. Through its conduct and/or omissions, Defendants, its associates and agents,

failed to exercise any care towards Evan to whom a duty was owed under the

circumstances, where a great probability of resulting harm existed.

172. Through its conduct and/or omissions, Defendants, its associates and agents, acted

with a conscious disregard and indifference to the known and/or obvious risk of resulting

harm.

173. As a direct and proximate result of the failures and omissions noted above,

Defendants, its associates and agents, each caused the resulting mental distress and death

of Evan, and the surviving beneficiaries’ resulting damages including but not limited to

the loss of Evan’s future earning potential, society and companionship, significant grief

and mental anguish, and funeral and burial expenses.

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FIFTEENTH CLAIM
INTENTIONAL SPOLIATION

174. Defendants, their relevant representatives and agents, were aware of pending

litigation pertaining to Evan’s death.

175. Based upon information and belief, Defendants are willfully, knowingly, and in

bad faith destroying evidence involving Evan and the Dairy Department despite being

aware of pending litigation and in direct contravention of the preservation letter received

by Defendant’s representatives.

176. The nature of a wrongful death suit makes any objective evidence pertinent and

potentially crucial to Decedent’s case. Evan is not here to speak for himself; we rely on

evidence maintained in the normal course of business inter alia to prove his claims.

177. Thus, any purposeful destruction of evidence is inherently disruptive and

damaging to Plaintiff’s case.

178. Defendants’ willful and egregious actions warrant a preliminary injunction from

the court protecting the remaining evidence and the future presumption of prejudicial

spoliation. See Elliott-Thomas v. Smith, 154 Ohio St. 3d 11, 2018-Ohio-1783 (holding

that intentional spoliation is an independent tort in Ohio); Am. States Ins. Co. v. Tokai-

Seiki (H.K.), Ltd., 94 Ohio Misc.2d 174, 704 N.E.2d 1280 (C.P. 1997) (holding that

“intent of the offending party, the level of prejudice, and the reasonableness of the

offending party’s action must all be balanced in fashioning a remedy” for intentional

spoliation. That remedy should “place both parties on a level playing field.”).

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WHEREFORE, Kenneth C. Seyfried, as the personal representative and Administrator

of the Estate of Evan Seyfried, demands judgment in excess of $25,000 against Defendants The

Kroger Co., Shannon Frazee, and Joseph Pigg for all damages and losses that he and the

wrongful death beneficiaries are entitled to recover, plus attorney fees, case expenses, court

costs, pre-judgment, and post-judgment interest as well as any and all equitable and just relief

including punitive damages, this Court deems appropriate.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Austin H. LiPuma


Austin H. LiPuma (0095750)
Jon B. Allison (0073955)
FREKING MYERS & REUL LLC
600 Vine Street 9th Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202
P: (513) 721-1975 | Fax: (513) 651-2570
alipuma@fmr.law
jallison@fmr.law
Trial Attorneys for Plaintiff

JURY DEMAND

Plaintiff hereby demands a trial by jury on all matters so triable.

/s/ Austin LiPuma


Austin H. LiPuma (0095750)

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EXHIBIT 1
E-FILED 07/12/2021 09:50 AM / CONFIRMATION 1086741 / A 2102367 / COMMON PLEAS DIVISION / IFIJ
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