Schwan's wrongful termination suit moved to federal court

By Lawrence Smith | Feb 5, 2010

PARKERSBURG - An Ohio man will now have to argue his case of wrongful termination against his former employer in federal rather than state court.

The case of David Covert vs. Schwan's Food Service Inc. was transferred from Wood Circuit Court, where it was originally filed on Nov. 12, to U.S. District Court on Dec. 15. Schwan's attorney, Robert J. Kent, with Parkersburg office of Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff and Love, cited diversity of jurisdiction of the parties in his notice of removal.

Covert is an Ohio resident, and Schwan's is a Minnesota business with operations in West Virginia.

According to his complaint, Covert, while working as a customer service manager trainee, was injured on Nov. 20, 2008 when a the catch on one of Schwan's food truck drawers fell on him. The suit does not specify where Covert was injured.

Regardless, he alleges he informed his supervisor, Randy Reagon, before his injury the drawer was unsafe. Four days after filing a workers' compensation claim, Covert was terminated from his job.

In this suit, Covert claims he was fired in retaliation for filing the workers' compensation claim. In addition to unspecified damages, including lost wages, Covert seeks court costs, attorney fees and interest.

He is represented by Scott H. Kaminski with the Charleston law firm of Balgo and Kaminski.

Three days after filing notice of removal, Schwan's answered Covert's allegations. In their answer, they acknowledge he was injured, and subsequently terminated ,but not in retaliation for filing the workers' compensation claim.

In their defense, Schwan's allege any injuries Covert incurred where a result of his own negligence, and it had no knowledge of the unsafe condition of the food drawer. Also, though not specified, Schwan's says Covert was terminated for reasons unrelated to the workers' compensation claim.

The case is assigned to Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, case number 09-cv-1445

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