Ky. man says natural gas company wrongly fired him

By Kelly Holleran | Apr 5, 2010

MORGANTOWN -- A Kentucky man claims a natural gas company terminated his employment after doctors discovered a skull disability that does not allow him to drive.

Taylor Stumbo claims he was working for Exterra Resources as a lease agent in April 2008 when he was diagnosed with Chiari I, an abnormality of the brain at its connection point with the spine. Because of the condition, Stumbo is unable to drive, stand for long periods of time or lift and carry heavy objects, according to his complaint filed Jan. 22 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

As a result of the side effects of Chiari I, Stumbo was forced to halt his work as a lease agent, which required extensive driving to properties believed to have natural gas reserves, the suit states. Instead, in May 2008, Exterra assigned Stumbo to draft leases -- a position that did not require driving but did result in a 12.5 percent decrease in pay, the complaint says.

Stumbo claims he continued to work drafting leases until July 2, 2008, when Exterra terminated his employment.

"In doing so, the Defendant explicitly stated that it was no longer employing Mr. Stumbo because of his medical condition," the suit states. "After terminating Mr. Stumbo, the Defendant failed to pay the Plaintiff all wages and benefits he was owed at the time of his termination in a timely manner."

Stumbo alleges violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act and of the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act.

He is seeking compensatory, punitive, special and liquidated damages, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Because Stumbo is a resident of Kentucky and Exterra is a Tennessee corporation and because the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, Exterra removed the complaint to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Stumbo will be represented by P. Todd Phillips of Morgantown.

Exterra will be represented by Matthew T. Logue of Del Sole Cavanaugh Stroyd in Pittsburgh.

The case has been assigned to Judge Irene M. Keeley.

U.S. District Court case number: 1:10-cv-30

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