HUNTINGTON – A former employee is suing River City Subaru for discriminating against him when he left to complete a drug rehabilitation program.

On Nov. 27, 2015, Nathan Hammond returned to his home to find his elderly neighbor’s house on fire and immediately responded to help her safely evacuate, according to a complaint filed Nov. 6.

Hammond claims he observed a pan of grease on fire in the kitchen and his neighbor pleaded with him to help put out the fire so that her home could be saved.

The plaintiff grabbed the pan of grease that was on fire and attempted to throw it outside, but while attempting to do so, the pan of grease splattered on him, causing him to sustain severe burns to his body, according to the suit.

Hammond claims he sustained severe burns to his body and was taken to the Burn Intensive Care Unit at Cabell Huntington Hospital, where he stayed for approximately one and one-half months and was required to undergo 13 surgeries.

As a result of the extreme pain associated with the burns, Hammond was prescribed various pain medications and, in April he visited his physician and disclosed that he may have a substance use disorder, according to the suit.

Hammond claims his physician took him off of his pain medications and he has not taken any pain medications since that visit. He followed up with his physician in June.

At the direction of his physician, Hammond presented to a Suboxone clinic on June 20, according to the suit.

Hammond claims after taking the first dose of Suboxone, he became very sick and was taken to the emergency room at St. Mary’s Medical Center and was hospitalized until June 26.

After his discharge, Hammond traveled to Tampa, Fla., where he voluntarily checked into a treatment center, where he stayed 33 days until he had completed the rehabilitation therapy, according to the suit.

Hammond claims on Aug. 4, he returned to West Virginia and ready to return to his job with the defendant.

In August, the plaintiff contacted River City to notify them that he could return to work and was informed that sales were down and that it had decided to only retain six employees, according to the suit.

Hammond claims he was informed his employment was terminated, which violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Hammond is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Phillip Estep of Warner Law Offices.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Gregory L. Howard Jr.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 17-C-626

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