*Confidential settlement reached by Brown Firm
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Oct. 6, 2021) – Attorneys Christopher E. Brown and Cameron V. Gore this week filed a suit against S-Fer International Inc. (Salvatore Ferragamo), an international high-end boutique retailer, on behalf of their client, a highly educated and professional Black woman who alleges she was twice assaulted, falsely imprisoned, conspired against, and discriminated against at Salvatore Tysons Galleria, when trying to return items to their store in McLean, Virginia. The client filmed portions of the encounter including the initial assault on her cell phone.
“Based on [the client’s] racial background and perceived financial standing given her race (African-American), employees at Salvatore Tysons Galleria assaulted, detained, and defamed her, simply for trying to return a pair of belts she had bought as a gift,” said Christopher Brown, principal attorney of The Brown Firm, PLLC, which represents the client. *“*The assaults and related torts that occurred against their client at Salvatore Ferragamo are wholly unacceptable. She became the victim of a shocking series of events simply for visiting the store to conduct lawful business. Employees can never be allowed to put their hands on patrons and mistreat them because of their racially biased motives or animus. We expect a jury will send a strong message to Salvatore Ferragamo that this sort of behavior is utterly intolerable in a civilized society*.”*
The Brown Firm filed a complaint against Salvatore Ferragamo with nine counts: Assault & Battery x2, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, False Imprisonment, Per Se Defamation, Civil Conspiracy, Discrimination Under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 USC 1981), and Violation of the Virginia Human Rights Act. The client is demanding a jury trial and seeking $24 million in monetary relief as well as punitive damages.
On Aug. 6, 2021, the client visited Salvatore Tysons Galleria to return a pair of $400 belts she had bought for her husband as a gift. While returning the items, a West Indian store associate falsely accused their client of altering the length of the belts by cutting off portions that rendered the belts shorter than when they purchased them.
The associate became rude, unprofessional, and hostile towards their client ,remarking that they were “undignified” and claiming that shopping at a high-end establishment was “out of her league,” based on their racial background (black). In response, the client remarked that both she and the associate were black. The associate then raised her voice and advised the client that she is of island ancestry and referred to herself as “yellow colored,” meaning of a purportedly higher or superior biological descent than the client.
The client asked for the belts back so she could leave the premises and pursue her refund in a different way and requested the associate’s name. The associate refused to give her name, and the client took out her phone to assist in identifying her when submitting her complaint to corporate and began recording video. The associate then struck the client on the left side of her face, attempted to grab the client’s cell phone, then directed the store security guard to lock the client in the store. While imprisoned in the store, the client used a second cell phone she had on her person to call 911, while the store associates and security guard also contacted the local authorities. The three store employees then conspired to portray the client as the aggressor in the situation and have her charged with assault – not realizing that the client had *recorded the incident* clearly revealing she was the victim. When authorities arrived, given the reports from the employees, the client was humiliatingly escorted from the store and advised she would hear from police regarding the investigation.
Based on their phone video and other evidence, Fairfax County Police confirmed our client was the victim of the assault [view response to a FOIA request HERE].
The civil complaint filed in Alexandria federal court against Salvatore Ferragamo on behalf of the client is available HERE
The Brown Firm, PLLC is a historic, African American law firm based in the DC Metro area. Maintaining a tradition of excellence as legal practitioners for over 65 years, the Brown family proudly champions their clients. Focused on employment discrimination, civil rights, police excessive force, wrongful death, real estate, and commercial law matters, the Brown Firm is committed to using the law as an instrument to pursue a more equitable and just society.