PRESTONSBURG – A wrongful firing suit against Clayton Mobile Homes ended Monday when a Floyd County jury awarded $725,000 to former Luv Home lot manager Michael Kirk.
“CMH devastated Mike,” said John C. Kirk, Michael Kirk’s attorney. “When it fired him, it sent out a message that Mike had done something wrong in defending his property and, fearing for his life, protecting himself.”
Michael Kirk, 52, shot and killed Ronald Dillion inside one of the lot homes during a burglary attempt in March 2005. One week later, Kirk was fired by CMH for “violating the company policy which prohibited employees from having a gun on the premises, according to David Booth of Knoxville, the company president.
“They hung Mike out to dry,” said Bobby Rowe, who with Phillip Wheeler and John Kirk, acted as Kirk’s trial counsel.
The shooting came on the heels of a series of burglaries and thefts at Luv Homes, where Kirk was General Manager. According to Kirk’s complaint, CMH would not provide any help to him in trying to curb the frequent thefts. “They (CMH) told me it was my problem, not theirs,” Kirk testified.
“The company gave Mike no help whatsoever,” John Kirk said, “and literally placed him in a situation of having to do nothing and have all those break-ins and thefts continue, or do something himself.”
During the trial, Kirk testified that he had called Kentucky State Police and reported that he believed that “thieves were going to hit again that night and was told by police to call back later if he had something certain to report.”
According to trial testimony, Kirk was waiting inside a mobile home when he encountered Dillion breaking in. Michael Kirk testified that he told Dillion to “freeze” and that he had a gun. Michael Kirk said that Dillion responded that he also had a gun and that Dillion started moving toward him, at which time Michael fired a fatal shot.
Michael Kirk was not arrested and no charges were placed against him. CMH has filed papers asking the court for a new trial.
Note: Following the court’s denial of CMH’s petition for a new trial, CMH and Kirk filed notices of appeal to the Court of Appeals, after which all issues were settled by agreed.