A Marion County man is suing his former company, saying they wrongly fired him due to injuries he sustained while trying to suck gas out of a tank with his mouth on the job.
In a suit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court Thursday, Dennis Cozby says that McMinnville-based Evergreen International Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprise (EAGLE) owes him $150,000 for wrongful termination.
It all started, the suit says, on Feb. 14, 2011, when Cozby, a mechanic, was disassembling a vehicle, and needed to siphon off excess fuel.
"The pump which (Cozby) usually used to siphon fuel was non-functional so (Cozby) attempted to suction out the fuel using his mouth," the suit reads. "Plaintiff aspirated a large volume of the fuel into his lungs and passed out."
Cozby successfully filed a worker's compensation claim for his "debilitating" respiratory impairment—which choosing to inhale fuel causes—and returned to his job as a mechanic in June 2011. In early July, less than a month back on the job, the suit says Cozby was denied two days of vacation time, even though other employees were granted vacation that month.
In August, the suit says that Cozby's pulmonologist found that Cozby's lungs still hadn't healed from his fuel aspirating event, and it was affecting his ability to work at full speed.
Despite that, EAGLE wrote Cozby up for working too slowly, despite a doctor's note, writes Cozby's lawyer Daniel Hill of Adams, Hill & Hess in Salem. On Nov. 4, 2011, EAGLE fired Cozby because he was unable to keep up with his work.
The suit says that EAGLE is "vicariously liable for the acts of their agents and employees," and also failed to accommodate his disability.
Hill, Cozby's attorney, and EAGLE were not immediately available for comment.