Door-To-Door Vacuum Salespeople Sue Companies

Missouri Lawyers Weekly, Vol, 14, No. 38, September 19, 2000

Verdicts and Settlements:
Door-To-Door Vacuum Salespeople Sue Companies
Claimed Hostile Environment, Failure to Pay Commissions,
$1.25 Million Settlement

The five plaintiffs – two black males, two while females and one black female – were door-to-door salespeople of vacuum cleaners manufactured by defendant Scott Fetzer d/b/a The Kirby Company. Defendant Richard Herrera was the distributor, and defendant Ray Cook d/b/a Central States Kirby Division, supervised Herrera and all distributors in the central states region.

The plaintiffs filed an eight-count petition against Fetzer, Herrera, the Bretney Corporation (Herrera’s corporation), Cook and Central States for various claims including race and sex discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract, negligent supervision and negligent retention. Bretney also asserted counterclaims against four of the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs claimed they were not paid the full amount of commissions due to them for vacuum cleaner sales. They also said they had been subjected to sexual and radial epithets and slurs, which created a hostile work environment. They claimed negligence and negligent supervision against Fetzer and Cook.

Cook and his insurers settled for $500,000 and Herrera and his insurers settled for $750,000. In addition, there was a confidential settlement. The counterclaims remain pending.

Type of Action: Race and sex discrimination, breach of contract, negligent hiring, retention and supervision

Type of Injury: Economic damages, emotional distress

Court/Case No./Date: Jackson County Circuit Court/CV96023841/MAY 2000

Caption: McDaniel, et al. v. Scott Fetzer d/b/a The Kirby Company, et. al.

Judge, Jury or ADR: ADR

Name of Judge: John Moran

Verdict or Settlement: $1.25 million settlement pus confidential settlement

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Last Offer: N/A

Last Demand: N/A

Attorneys for Plaintiff: Dennis E. Egan, The Popham Law Firm, Kansas City and Brian F. McCallister, The McCallister Law Firm, Kansas City

Insurance Carrier: Farmers Insurance, CGU Hawkeye Insurance

Plaintiff’s Experts: James Kline, Kansas City (accountant)

Defendants Experts: Lawrence Morris, Kansas City (accountant)