HUNTINGTON – A man is suing Wal-mart after claims his employment was terminated when he acted in self defense.
On Nov. 6, Seth Weatherholt, who was an asset protection manager with Wal-mart, observed a suspect leaving Wal-mart without paying for merchandise and approached the suspect, according to a complaint originally filed in Cabell Circuit Court and removed to federal court.
Weatherholt claims he followed all of Wal-mart’s procedures in getting the suspect to be detained in the office of the asset protection manager and, at all times, had an associate as a witness as set forth in Wal-mart’s policies.
Prior to taking the suspect to be detained in the small office, Weatherholt did not pat down, frisk or search the suspect as it is against Wal-mart’s policy, despite the fact that this policy puts the asset protection manager and associates at risk, according to the suit.
Weatherholt claims when the suspect was detained witnesses included Melinda Davis, LeeAnne Frans and Dustin Lewington and it was Weatherholt’s primary responsibility to ensure the safety of himself and the associates.
When Weatherholt noticed the suspect had a small knife clipped to his pocket, he asked the suspect if he could remove the knife and was granted permission to do so, according to the suit.
Weatherholt claims he proceeded to appropriately remove the knife and place it on the table where it could not be used as a weapon and then he called the police and requested that they come to the store.
When the suspect learned that the police were being called he became agitated and physically attacked Weatherholt with the associates present and, in order to protect the associates, he placed himself between the suspect and the associates, according to the suit.
Weatherholt claims the suspect began to strike him and, after receiving several blows, he struck the suspect one time in order to protect himself, knocking the suspect to the ground and he did not use any additional physical force—only what was necessary to defend himself and the associates.
It was later learned that the suspect had a criminal history, according to the suit.
Weatherholt claims on Nov. 17, his employment was terminated because he had acted in self defense.
Weatherholt is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by J. Michael Ranson and Cynthia M. Ranson of Ranson Law Offices.
Wal-mart is represented by J. Todd Bergstrom of Littler Mendelson.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:18-cv-00353