Suit claims employee used company funds, labor for personal projects

Kelly Holleran Nov. 22, 2010, 5:17am


Sunoco Pipeline has filed suit against one of its former employees, alleging the employee used Sunoco co-workers to remodel his home, work on his race car and build a driveway for him -- all on Sunoco's dime.

Sunoco Pipeline claims one of its former area managers, Alun Melton, utilized the company's materials, funds, equipment, services and labor for his own use.

For example, while on the job and receiving money from Sunoco, Melton instructed Sunoco contractors to remodel his home and to perform drywall and plumbing work, according to the complaint filed Nov. 15 in Jefferson County District Court.

Melton then allegedly instructed the employees to bill all the time they worked and the equipment they used to Sunoco under the pretext of work invoices that indicated the work was performed on Sunoco property.

In another instance, Melton instructed contractors to haul, deliver and spread at least six truckloads of crushed driveway rock to his house, the suit states. Again, Melton directed that all labor and materials be invoiced to Sunoco, the complaint says.

Yet another time, Melton instructed contractors to work on his race car and race car trailer, then to bill Sunoco for labor and parts, Sunoco claims.

"Defendant Melton directed contractor employees to create false invoices for Sunoco station lawn care, creating the false impression that lawn care was being performed on Sunoco property by contractors," the suit states. "Defendant Melton further directed contractor employees to indicate on submitted invoices that all work was being performed by 'superintendent' and/or 'foreman' level workers so as to raise the amounts Sunoco paid for the invoiced work."

Not only did Melton hire workers to perform illegitimate work, but he also sold scrap metal belonging to Sunoco for cash, then kept the proceeds.

"It is estimated that Melton received approximately $4,000 to $6,000 in cash for Sunoco's scrap metal and/or valves and shared approximately $2,000 of those proceeds with contractor employees," the complaint says.

Sunoco alleges conversion, unjust enrichment, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty against Melton.

It is seeking actual damages, lost profits, disgorgement damages, loss of value and out-of-pocket expenses, plus costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees, punitive damages and other relief the court deems just.

Michael T. Bridwell and Michael J. Filla of Strong, Pipkin, Bissell and Ledyard in Beaumont will be representing it.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court.

Case No. D188-810

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