Lawsuit against Kroger claims stress of kidnapping contributed to death

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 16, 2013

CHARLESTON – A Charleston attorney is suing The Kroger Co. after he claims it failed to keep its premises safe, which caused his father to be carjacked and kidnapped.

Kroger Limited Partnership I, KRGP, Inc., and John Carpenter were also named as defendants in the suit.

On Jan. 11, 2011, George Joseph Jacobs Jr., who was 83 years old, went to Kroger and was attempting to exit his vehicle when Gary Wayne Mullins forced his way into the vehicle and demanded $2,000, according to a complaint filed Jan. 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

G. Patrick Jacobs claims his father was unable to comply, but after being held for a period of time against his will, told Mullins he had money at his house.

Mullins ordered George Jacobs to leave the Kroger parking lot and drive to his home on Chappell Road and after arriving at the home, George Jacobs was able to find $1,800 in the home and gave the money to Mullins, according to the suit.

Patrick Jacobs claims Mullins demanded George Jacobs give him another $200 and, while continuing to fear for his life, told Mullins he could write a check for $200 since he did not have any more cash.

Mullins demanded George Jacobs to write the check and then forced him into the vehicle and to drive to the bank to cash the check, according to the suit.

Patrick Jacobs claims after the check was cashed, Mullins forced George Jacobs to go back to the Kroger parking lot and, after arriving at Kroger, threatened him that if he went to the police about what had happened Mullins would harm him.

Mullins then exited the vehicle and left George Jacobs alone, according to the suit. However, for several months after the incident, Mullins would appear at George Jacobs’ home and threaten and bully him into giving him money, the complaint states.

Patrick Jacobs claims his father continued to give Mullins money in order to avoid death or injury for a period of time until he finally revealed what had happed at the Kroger parking lot and Mullins was arrested.

On Feb. 6, George Jacobs testified in Kanawha Circuit Court in Mullins’ criminal trial, according to the suit.

Patrick Jacobs says his father died the following day, less than 24 hours after testifying against Mullins.

Mullins’ actions caused George Jacobs to suffer great stress and affected his physical and mental well-being, according to the suit.

Patrick Jacobs claims the defendants had a duty to provide safe premises for invitees and failed to take any action to maintain safe premises.

The defendants failed to fulfill their duty to use reasonable care and to take adequate and reasonably security precautions or measures to protect invitees from foreseeable harm and danger, according to the suit.

G. Patrick Jacobs is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by J. Michael Ranson, Cynthia M. Ranson and George B. Morrone III.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-25

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