HUNTINGTON -- Steel of West Virginia has filed a complaint against an Ohio man, alleging he stole more than $100,000 worth of metal from the company.
SWVA claims Christopher E. Mueller of Ironton, Ohio, trespassed onto its plant located at 17th Street and Second Avenue multiple times between January and June.
While there, Mueller stole property including multiple steel coils, floor plates, I beam sections and industrial forklift sections, according to the complaint filed in federal court.
With the help of others, Mueller loaded the metal onto the back of trucks or trailers and transported it to recycling centers around Huntington, the suit states.
Once at the centers, Mueller would tell employees he had the authority to sell the property and would produce his driver's license while the center took a picture of the property presented, SWVA claims.
The materials Mueller sold to the centers are consistent with the property SWVA is missing, according to the complaint.
"The losses resulting from defendant's conversion and sale of SWVA's property to recycling centers caused SWVA to incur replacement costs in excess of $110,000.00, administrative costs related to such replacement of approximately $10,000, and investigative costs, including detective services, cameras, video equipment, and lost production resulting from the investigation, in excess of $100,000," the suit states.
One of the ways SWVA found Mueller was through the license he had to leave at the recycling center when he sold the metal, said Thomas E. Scarr, the attorney for the company.
Mueller wrongly made money from the sale of SWVA's property, the company claims.
SWVA is seeking compensatory damages including replacement costs at a minimum of $100,000, administrative costs of approximately $10,000 and investigative costs in excess of $100,000.
The company is also seeking unspecified punitive damages and other relief the court deems proper.
SWVA will be represented by Scarr of Jenkins Fenstermaker in Huntington.
Despite a rash of metal and copper theft in the past year, there are no similar cases of which Scarr is aware, he said.
U.S. District Court case number: 3:08-1254