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Wrongful termination lawsuit against Mobil Oil going to trial

reporters@samoanews.com

A lawsuit filed against Mobil Oil American Samoa by a former employee, Patolomeo Fulu, five years ago is set for trial.  Fulu’s complaint was filed through local attorney Mark Ude, claiming wrongful termination, breach of contract, failure to pay vacation leave, failure to pay sick leave, tortuous interference and punitive damages.

COUNT ONE: WRONGFUL TERMINATION

Fulu in his 2007 complaint stated he was terminated without appropriate reasoning nor rational explanation by Mobil Oil American Samoa. Mobil Oil allegedly suspended Fulu for a safety violation but when faced with a shortage of workers, Mobil ended Fulu’s suspension and asked him to return to work.

Mobil claims they received instructions from headquarters to terminate Fulu, which they did. Fulu claims that Mobil failed to follow company procedures and policies regarding termination, which is a breach of policy, and therefore subject to a wrongful termination action.

According to the complaint, Mobil had a duty to Fulu to engage in good faith and fair dealings, in which Mobil breached their duty to Fulu. Mobil’s action to terminate Fulu caused him to be left without means to provide for his family.

COUNT TWO: BREACH OF CONTRACT

Fulu, in his complaint, said he was terminated while he was in contractual employment with the defendant. He believes there are certain protections from Mobil’s arbitrary and capricious actions.

According to the lawsuit, Fulu had been suspended then was called back to work, then again terminated, which created an implied contract identical to what was in effect, prior to the suspension.

Fulu claims Mobil’s own policy provides four weeks notification of termination of the contract. Mobil knew or should have known of its obligations and should have complied with their contractual obligations prior to dismissal.

Fulu holds that Mobil’s breach was a willful act done with the intention of circumventing the law and his rights, for which Mobil has financially benefited to the detriment of himself.

COUNT THREE: FAILURE TO PAY VACATION LEAVE

COUNT FOUR:  FAILURE TO PAY SICK LEAVE

Fulu was terminated on March 25, 2004, despite numerous letters to Mobil, regarding vacation leave which has not been reimbursed. Fulu claims he is owed approximately two weeks vacation time.

Fulu claims Mobil knew or should have known of its obligations to pay sick and vacation leave, within a reasonable amount of time after dismissal and their failure to pay the amount due, was a willful act done with the intention of circumventing the law and his rights.

COUNT FIVE: TORTUOUS INTERFERENCE

It is also stated in the lawsuit that Fulu, after being terminated, attempted to find employment, “which the defendant had a duty not to unjustly interfere with his attempt to become gainfully employed”.

Fulu claims he had “suffered economic harm as a result of the defendant’s action”, when a Mobil representative showed up at his new job, on or about Apr 2, 2008, and spoke with his new boss.

It is stated in the claim that Mobil’s failure to reemploy Fulu and intentionally interfering with his ability to gain employment, is a willful act done with the intention of circumventing the law and Fulu’s rights, or were done with reckless disregard for the laws and Fulu's rights, for which Mobil is responsible for the detriment of Fulu.

As a result of Mobil’s intentional acts, the plaintiff claims, he now suffers from shock, anxiety, worry and fright regarding any prospects of employment.

In such circumstances, punitive damages are available to properly notify large corporations such as Mobil that such flagrant violation of employee’s rights are not to be tolerated.

COUNT SIX: PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Fulu claims Mobil has a duty to not cause harm, however, he believes Mobil breached that duty. Fulu is alleging that as a result of Mobil’s intentional acts which included interfering in his future employment opportunities, he is now unable to provide financial support for his two minor children, who are currently residing in the state of Hawaii, and are faced with the threat of being placed in foster care .

Fulu hopes for judgment against Mobil for general damages in the amount to be determined at the time of trial; for consequential damages in the amount to be determined at the time of trial; for an order for punitive damages; for Attorney’s Fees and costs incurred; and for such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

The Mobil Oil American Samoa Company is represented by Fiti Sunia.



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