Sexual harassment suit against AstraZeneca removed to federal court

By John O'Brien | Nov 5, 2013

The Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Beckley

BECKLEY – A woman’s lawsuit alleging AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals did not take appropriate measures to shield her from sexual harassment has been removed to federal court.

AstraZeneca removed Katie L. Bonds’ lawsuit to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Beckley on Oct. 25, a month after Bonds filed it in Raleigh County Circuit Court.

Bonds was a pharmaceutical sales representative for the company in 2011. Though her complaint only specified $60,000 in compensatory damages, Bonds seeks much more than the $75,000 required for federal removal, the removal notice says.

“(E)ven by the most conservative estimate, the total amount of damages available to Plaintiff in this action is at least $170,000: $60,000 in specified compensatory damages, $50,000 in statutory attorneys fees, and $60,000 in punitive damages; well in excess of the $75,000 jurisdictional requirement,” the notice says.

Diversity jurisdiction also exists because Bonds is a resident of Raleigh County and AstraZeneca’s principal place of business is in Wilmington, Del., the notice says.

Bonds says that a male employee, Ron Hinkle, began making unwelcome sexual comments to her in the summer of 2011 that would make her nervous and scared and caused her to suffer anxiety.

She also says that she noticed Hinkle was going out of his way to follow or bump into her during the work day. Bonds says that she filed a complaint with her supervisor, but that her supervisor did not take the allegations seriously, told her she must be mistaken, told her to be a team player and told her to discuss her issues with Hinkle.

She alleges the defendant’s failure to take appropriate steps to prevent future harassment forced her to resign from her position and seek medical treatment for stress and anxiety.

She is being represented in the case by Darl W. Poling of Poling Law Offices.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Case No. 5:13-cv-26700.

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