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Mullins v. Marathon Petroleum Co., LP

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

February 5, 2014

JASON SETH MULLINS and TABITHA DAWN MULLINS, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARATHON PETROLEUM CO., LP., and MARATHON INVESTMENT LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the Marathon Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 45]. This Court permitted Plaintiffs additional time in which to respond to the motion [Docket No. 52]. Plaintiffs have filed a supplemental response [Docket No. 55] and this matter is ripe for decision. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court finds that the Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jason Mullins alleges that on May 11, 2012, while he was employed by Defendant Marathon Petroleum Company as a barge cleaner, Ken Rakes, an employee of Securitas Security Services saw a rifle in backseat of Plaintiff's vehicle, which was parked Marathon's lot [Amended Complaint, Docket No. 13 at ¶ 19]. Plaintiffs allege that after the hunting rifle was observed in his vehicle, Mr. Mullins was called into a meeting with three members of Marathon's safety department. [ Id. at ¶ 25]. Plaintiffs assert that after several meetings, Marathon informed Mr. Mullins that he was being suspended one day without pay and placed on probation for 24 months for violating the company's weapons policy. [ Id. at ¶¶ 25-29].

Plaintiffs allege that as a result of this discipline, Mr. Mullins could be "fired for any violation of any company rule or policy, no matter how minor." [Doc #: 13 at ¶ 30]. Plaintiffs also claim that as a result of the discipline imposed by Marathon, Mr. Mullins was unable "to apply and test for several higher-paying positions" with Marathon. [Doc #: 13 at ¶ 31]. They contend that Mr. Mullins "intended to pursue higher paying positions prior to being placed on probation." [Doc #: 13 at ¶ 33]. Plaintiffs further allege that as a result of the actions of the Defendants, Mr. Mullins "suffered a great deal of stress and anxiety." [Doc #: 13 at ¶ 37]. They claim that this culminated in Mr. Mullins being hospitalized for five days for treatment of an aneurism resulting from a drastic increase in his blood pressure. [Doc #: 13 at ¶ 39-41].

On November 30, 2012, Plaintiff Jason Mullins and his wife Tabitha Mullins filed this lawsuit in Boyd Circuit Court against Marathon, Securitas, Chet Smith, Bea Smith and Jamie Alcorn [Docket No. 1-1] seeking the following elements of damages:

(a) Past mental and physical pain, suffering and inconvenience;
(b) Future mental and physical pain, suffering and inconvenience;
(c) Embarrassment and humiliation;
(d) Past medical expenses;
(e) Future medical expenses;
(f) Lost wages and benefits;
(g) Punitive damages; and
(h) All incidental and consequential expenses incurred by the Plaintiff.

[Docket No. 13, p. 17].

In subsequent filings with the Court, Plaintiffs state that they have suffered damages in excess of $33, 000, 000 [Docket No. 55, p. 6].

Following Defendants' removal, Plaintiffs amended their Complaint. The Amended Complaint asserts six claims. Count One asserts a claim for a violation of KRS 237.106, which states "no person... shall prohibit any person who is legally entitled to possess a firearm from possessing a firearm... in a vehicle on the property, " KRS 237.106(1), and creates a private right of action against an employer who "punishes an employee who is lawfully exercising a right guaranteed by this section...., " KRS 237.106(4). Plaintiff alleges the Defendants violated this statute by "disciplining the Plaintiff... for possessing a hunting rifle in the back ...


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