CHARLESTON – Kroger has filed its response in the lawsuit that claims a man who was kidnapped in its parking lot died partly because of the stress he endured.
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court by G. Patrick Jacobs, who claimed his father, George Joseph Jacobs Jr., was kidnapped on Jan. 11, 2011, from Kroger’s parking lot by Gary Wayne Mullins.
Mullins then forced George Jacobs, who was 83 years old, to drive to his house to get $2,000, the suit says. When Jacobs was only able to find $1,800, Mullins then forced him to write a check and take it to get it cashed for the rest of the money, the suit says.
G. Patrick Jacobs claimed Kroger was responsible for the alleged incident because his father was in its parking lot when Mullins forced his way into George Jacobs’ car.
G. 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, 2012, 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.
The Kroger Co., Kroger Limited Partnership I, KRGP Inc. and John Carpenter failed to fulfill their duty to use reasonable care and to take adequate and reasonable security precautions or measures to protect invitees from foreseeable harm and danger, according to the suit.
In the defendants’ answer, which was filed Jan. 28, Kroger and Carpenter are “without sufficient information or knowledge to form a belief as to the truth of the statements and allegations…” and therefore, they deny them and demand proof.
Based upon the evidence adduced in the matter, Kroger invokes the defenses of comparative negligence, assumption of the risk, failure to mitigate, estoppel, res judicata, collateral estoppel, expiration of the statute of limitations, lack of personal jurisdiction and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense, according to the answer.
Kroger claims that the injuries or damages alleged by G. Patrick Jacobs were the cause or result of his comparative negligence and/or the intentional, criminal and/or negligent acts or omissions of third parties other than Kroger.
Kroger is being represented by Travis S. Haley.
G. Patrick Jacobs, a Charleston personal injury attorney, 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