Refinery sued after terminating contractor who reported alleged theft ring

Michelle Massey Jul. 27, 2010, 10:54am

A contractor for the Valero Port Arthur facility is suing the company for breach of contract after he claims he was terminated for reporting an alleged theft ring at the refinery.

Theis Investments filed suit against The Premcor Refining Group and Valero Energy Corp. on July 13 in the Jefferson County District Court. Theis Investments is a small consulting company owned and operated by Russell Theis.

Under his contract, Theis was placed in charge of all demolition projects at the Valero-Port Arthur Refinery.

According to the lawsuit, there was a theft ring operating at the refinery which allegedly involved Valero management,well known contractors and friends, which included Bay Limited.

Theis alleges the theft ring would steal copper and other scrap metals and sell the materials.

Theis reported the illegal activity to his supervisor and after the investigation was completed, five employees of Bay Limited were escorted out of the refinery, according to the suit.

The lawsuit also points out that the materials stolen from the Valero plant are not in compliance with environmental protection statutes and no report was made to the appropriate state agencies.

The plaintiff states that shortly after the investigation, he was terminated and the Theis contract breached by Valero.

Theis Investments is seeking damages for lost wages, emotional distress, attorneys' fees, interest, court costs and other consequential damages.

The petitioner is represented by Gary M. Riebschlager and Wayne P. Chan of Brent Coon & Associates in Houston. Jury trial is requested.

Judge Milton Gunn Shuffield, 136th District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. D187-271

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