Christian V. McOmber, Peter D. Valenzano, and Lauren M. Hill represent R.N. (Plaintiff’s initials are provided in lieu of her full name to protect Plaintiff’s identity as permitted by court rules) in a sexual harassment and gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Surf BBQ, a restaurant owned and operated by celebrity chef Victor Rallo, located in Rumson, New Jersey. Named defendants in the lawsuit include Robert “Bobby” Rallo, Max Rallo, Andrew Bouthillettew, Montana Perez and Daniel Boswell.
The Complaint alleges on October 28, 2022, Plaintiff, a nineteen-year-old woman, was working a shift at Surf BBQ as a bartender when Mr. Boswell, a regular customer, came into the restaurant. Upon arriving, Mr. Boswell proceeded to drink copious amounts of alcohol at Surf BBQ’s bar while chatting with Bobby Rallo, an owner, and taking shots of alcohol with Ms. Perez, a manager. Although Surf BBQ’s management and ownership were well aware that Mr. Boswell was becoming belligerently intoxicated, the restaurant failed to intervene.
After several hours of drinking at Surf BBQ, Mr. Boswell snuck behind an unsuspecting Plaintiff and groped both of her breasts. Max Rallo, Bobby Rallo, and Mr. Bouthillettew were mere feet away during the assault, but failed to intervene. Therefore, Plaintiff immediately reported this egregious sexual assault to Max Rallo, Mr. Bouthillettew, and Ms. Perez to no avail. Indeed, rather than remove Mr. Boswell from the premises, Defendants indifferently suggested Plaintiff “cut him off” and stop serving him alcohol.
Thereafter, Mr. Boswell was permitted to remain at Surf BBQ for hours. All the while, Plaintiff begged management to eject him from the premises. However, Surf BBQ refused to do so. In fact, Mr. Boswell finally stumbled out of the restaurant of his own volition several hours after the assault, where he passed out in the parking lot next to Plaintiff’s car.
Needless to say, Surf BBQ’s gross indifference towards Plaintiff’s sexual assault and failure to take prompt remedial action demonstrated that she was no longer safe working for the restaurant. Although Surf BBQ’s management was present and could have readily prevented the situation and ejected Mr. Boswell, they decided not to do so and permitted the man who groped Plaintiff’s breasts to remain at the restaurant. Therefore, Plaintiff was forced from her employment with the restaurant.
This lawsuit, which is filed in Monmouth County Superior Court, alleges violations of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, Battery, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Negligence. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
“As alleged in this Complaint, Surf BBQ utterly disregarded its obligation to provide Plaintiff a safe working environment. First, Surf BBQ facilitated overdrinking at its establishment and Ms. Perez, a manager on duty, even did shots with Mr. Boswell prior to the incident. Second, despite Plaintiff’s repeated requests, Surf BBQ failed to eject Mr. Boswell from the restaurant after he sexually assaulted our nineteen-year-old client in public. We stand united with our client in exposing this outrageous and unlawful behavior.” Christian V. McOmber, Esq.