PETERSBURG – A Grant County man says he was wrongfully terminated by a waste collection company.
Logan and Tabitha Willis of Maysville filed their complaint Aug. 26 against Hott Disposal Services Inc. and John Paul Hott II in Grant Circuit Court. Hott is the owner, sole shareholder and only officer of the company, according to the complaint.
Logan Willis says he began working for the Petersburg-based business on Sept. 23, 2013, as a garbage truck driver. On April 28, 2015, he says he was driving a company garbage truck on Johnson Run Road in Petersburg when he says the steering wheel would not turn.
“Willis applied his foot to the brake, but the garbage collection truck failed to slow or stop,” the complaint states, adding that the truck veered off the road, over an embankment and struck a tree before coming to rest on the passenger side. Willis was trapped in the cab until he was extricated by fire and emergency personnel. He was taken to the hospital for his injuries.
John Paul Hott’s wife Karen arrived at the scene of the accident and repeatedly demanded Willis be tested for alcohol and drug use.
“There was no suspicion that Mr. Willis was under the influence of alcohol or drugs by law enforcement or any other person involved in the investigation,” the complaint states. “Mr. Willis does not consumer alcohol or illegal drugs.”
Willis says the steering component of the truck was damaged, and the brakes were not properly functioning. Also, he says the truck was scheduled for maintenance on the next day.
Later in the day of the accident, Willis says he asked John Paul Hott II if he would receive workers’ compensation coverage. Hott said he hadn’t turned anything in to workers’ comp. Hott later sent Willis a text message asking him to meet at his office the next morning.
Willis says the company did not have workers’ comp noticed posted on the premises and did not have workers’ comp forms readily available. He says none were provided to him as well.
The next day at the meeting, Hott told Willis he had “no problem firing people,” and terminated Willis’ employment immediately, citing the accident. Hott also said the accident would cause his insurance to increase.
Willis says Hott also told him he would provide health insurance for Willis through the end of June. But a May 29 letter of representation was sent to Hott, and Willis’ insurance was canceled June 1.
On June 3, Hott left a voicemail on Willis’ wife cell phone threatening “to file a civil action lawsuit against Mr. Willis in the Magistrate Court of Grant County if Mr. Willis did not pay for the health insurance provided to Mr. Willis after his termination.”
Willis accuses Hott of workers’ compensation discrimination and of violating the West Virginia Human Rights Act perceived disability discrimination. His wife sues for loss of consortium.
The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, including front pay and back pay, as well as pre- and post-judgment interest, court costs, attorney fees and other relief. They also seek punitive damages, saying the defendants acted with actual malice, criminal indifference and deliberate indifference.
They are being represented by Jared T. Moore of The Moore Law Firm PLLC in Franklin. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Lynn Nelson.
Grant Circuit Court case number: 15-C-33