United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
RICK RICHARDS and ERNEST RICHARDS, II, Plaintiffs/ Counter Defendants,
OCTANE ENVIRONMENTAL, LLC, an Ohio limited liability company, TERENCE SEIKEL, CRAIG STACY, and JOSEPH SEIKEL, Defendants/Counter Claimants/ Third-Party Plaintiff/Counter Defendant,
JASON RICHARDS, AMANDA HUNT, AARON GILES, and JACOB RICHARDS, Third-Party Defendants/Counter Claimants against Octane Environmental, LLC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO
DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE AND DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT WITHOUT PREJUDICE [ECF NO. 145]
S. KLEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss/Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by the Defendants and Third-Party Plaintiffs,
Octane Environmental, LLC (“Octane”), Terence
Seikel (“T. Seikel”), Craig Stacy
(“Stacy”), and Joseph Seikel (“J.
“Defendants”). For the reasons discussed below, the
Court denies the Motion to Dismiss with prejudice and denies
the Motion for Summary Judgment without prejudice.
August 13, 2019, the Plaintiff, Rick Richards
(“Plaintiff”), filed an Amended Complaint in this
action. ECF No. 142. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff
brings the following legal claims: (I) Declaratory Judgment
Against Defendants, (II) Breach of Contract, (III) Unjust
Enrichment, (IV) Promissory Estoppel, (V) Defamation, (VI)
Conversion, and (VII) Violation of the West Virginia Wage
Payment and Collection Act. On August 27, 2019, Defendants
filed a Motion to Dismiss/Motion for Summary Judgment (the
“Motion”), which is now fully briefed and ripe
for review. ECF No. 145.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff avers the following set of
facts, which the Court regards as true for purposes of the
Motion. Plaintiff worked for Extreme Plastics Plus, Inc.
(“Extreme Plastics”) from October 2012 to July
2016. Am. Compl., ECF No. 142, at ¶ 9. While working
there, and in his prior work in the oil and gas services
industry, he provided environmental containment products and
services and “developed a substantial book of customer
business” while doing so. Id.
2016, Stacy, T. Seikel, and others approached Plaintiff.
Id. ¶ 10. They were looking to start a new
business (Octane) to provide environmental containment
products and services in the oil and gas industry.
Id. Stacy and T. Seikel offered Plaintiff:
(1) an initial 2.5% equity partner ownership in Octane with
the potential to receive up to 5% equity partner ownership
based on performance, to be paid out upon the sale of Octane;
(2) at-will employment by Octane as its General Manager; (3)
an annual salary; (4) participation in a profit-sharing
program under which Plaintiff would receive a certain
percentage of Octane's profits, to be paid on a monthly
basis; and (5) other fringe benefits such as insurance and
Id. ¶ 11.
exchange for these promises, Plaintiff promised to:
(1) leave his employment with Extreme Plastics and begin
serving as General Manager of Octane; (2) solicit or attempt
to solicit his existing customers from Extreme Plastics to
become customers of Octane and otherwise be responsible for
developing Octane's oil and gas business; and (3) recruit
other employees in the industry to become employed by Octane.
Id. Plaintiff began working to develop Octane as its
General Manager. Id. ¶ 12. He received a paid
salary, was an at-will employee during his employment, and
was involved in the formation and establishment of Octane.
Id. ¶¶ 12, 13. Plaintiff never entered
into a non-solicitation or non-compete agreement at Octane.
Id. ¶ 14. Octane relied on Plaintiff to solicit
his previous customers and develop “almost all of
Octane's business and customer base.” Id.
¶ 15. Plaintiff brought his own personal equipment to
Octane to be used by its employees, including
“trailers, a saw, water pumps, welders, and several
other items valued at approximately $30, 000.00.”
Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff recruited several employees
to work at Octane. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff never
received any verbal or written discipline or reprimand by his
immediate supervisors at Octane. Id. ¶ 24.
T. Seikel notified Plaintiff on May 7, 2018, without
explanation, that Plaintiff would be demoted to a Business
Development position. Id. ¶ 25. He was replaced
by Johnny Goff (“Goff”). Id. On May 11,
2018, Goff informed Plaintiff that he was suspended from
employment with Octane, effective immediately, for
“illegal activity.” Id. ¶ 28.
Plaintiff was informed during this conversation “that
his computer and company vehicle had been confiscated by
management, that his suspension would last for one week, and
that [he] was not permitted on the Octane premises during the
suspension period.” Id. ¶ 30. Plaintiff
was “instructed and made to leave . . . in the plain
view of his fellow employees and former subordinates.”
Id. ¶ 31.
12, 2018, Plaintiff submitted his resignation to T. Seikel.
Id. ¶ 32. Since he left, Plaintiff has been
informed that Defendants have made and continue to make false
and defamatory statements about him to Octane employees and
customers. Id. ¶ 33. These include:
that Plaintiff engaged in illegal activity; that Plaintiff
stole money from Octane during his employment and used said
money to start a new company; that plaintiff allowed his
brother(s) to work there while simultaneously working for a
competitor; and that Plaintiff was working for a competing
company while at Octane.
has made a request for the return of the personal property
described above, which remain in Octane's possession, and
Octane has ignored the request. Id. ¶ 34.
Octane has not compensated or offered to compensate Plaintiff
for this property. Id. Plaintiff never received the
promised ownership in or profit-sharing of Octane.
Id. ¶ 35. Plaintiff never did any of the
following during his employment with Octane:
(1) turn any customers away from Octane; (2) independently
perform work for any customer for his own personal benefit or
to the detriment of Octane; (3) use Octane's property or
business for any personal advantage or to derive any personal
benefit other than his promised salary as an Octane employee;
(4) derive any secret profits by virtue of the employment