HUNTINGTON – A lawsuit against Rally's alleging a former employee was fired due to reporting illegal activity was removed to federal court, where it was dismissed.
The plaintiff, Jerald Pullen, was notified that unless he obtained new counsel or notified the court in writing that he would represent himself, his lawsuit would be dismissed without prejudice, according to an order filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
In his order, District Judge Robert C. Chambers stated that no notice of appearance was filed, nor has the court received any communication from the plaintiff, therefore, the matter was dismissed without prejudice from the docket of the court.
The lawsuit had been removed to federal court because the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and for diversity of jurisdiction, as the defendants are Delaware and Kentucky corporations.
Jerald Pullen filed the lawsuit Oct. 9, 2014, in Cabell Circuit Court against Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc.; Rallco Inc.; Rallco II Inc.; and Silvano D'Allesandri, an individual and Rallco vice president, citing retaliatory discharge.
Pullen was employed as a cook by Rally's fast food restaurant, owned by Rallco and Checker's Drive-In, on Fifth Avenue in Huntington when he reported to an assistant manager and the general manager that illegal drug transactions were being conducted on the premises, in the parking lot and at the drive-through window.
Pullen claims he was told it wasn't his business and not to worry about it, and he subsequently learned the activity involved the assistant manager to whom he had reported the incident.
The complaint states Pullen witnessed one employee enter the premises, indicate that he had a gun and tell his coworkers "there would be trouble" if they did not find something he had dropped.
On other occasions, the complaint states, Pullen witnessed a group of men repeatedly coming to the restaurant to find a female employee they said had shorted them on a previous transaction.
This same female employee, Pullen says, had been seen counting prescription pills on the fast food restaurant's counter.
According to the lawsuit, when Pullen's complaints to the assistant and general managers went unanswered, he called a complaint line for employees and non-employees to make confidential complaints on Sept. 4, 2014.
Pullen says when he showed up for work the following day, his general manager fired him and showed him the e-mail he had received from D'Allesandri about the complaint he'd made, which had, obviously, not been kept confidential.
The lawsuit states the general manager told Pullen there had been a vote on whether to fire Pullen, including the assistant manager and D'Allesandri, but the general manager was the only one to vote to keep the plaintiff, so D'Allesandri instructed him to terminate Pullen's employment.
No other reason was given for termination, according to the suit.
The defendants are accused of retaliatory discharge – whistleblower and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the complaint states.
Pullen was seeking compensatory and punitive damages for lost wages and emotional distress, including fear for his life, as his identity was revealed to at least one suspected drug dealer. He was represented by attorneys James D. McQueen Jr. and Ralph J. Hagy of McQueen Davis until the attorneys filed motions to withdraw in January.
The attorneys stated that the plaintiff was uncooperative and unresponsive in refusing to return any communication with them in regard to the lawsuit.
The defendants were represented by Arnold J. Janicker, Nathanial A. Kuratomi and Steven L. Snyder of Jenkins Fenstermaker PLLC.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:14-cv-27576