A Bel Air man is suing a tire company that he contends spiked a business deal two days after he notified the firm he might be called to active duty for the Persian Gulf War.
But the owner of the company said in an interview that the man's reserve status had nothing to do with the dismissal.
Walter V. Smith Jr., a U.S. Army Reservist, is seeking $2.2 million in damages from Spurry's Tire Service of Easton, Talbot County, according to his suit filed May 13 in Harford Circuit Court.
The plaintiff also is asking the court to establish a "constructive trust" allowing him to operate the company he formed with Spurry and to receive payment for commissions and expenses.
H. Michael Spurry, owner of the tire company, said Smith was fired because he had not made anysales in a three-week period.
Spurry said in an interview, "He wasn't doing his job. We found him sitting at his house."
According to Smith's suit, Smith went to work for Spurry in June 1990 to expandthe company's business in the upper Chesapeake Bay region.
Smith and Spurry formed a company, called Bay Tire Ltd., that would do business on the Western Shore and buy another tire sales firm in CarolineCounty, the 13-page suit contends.
In the suit, Smith says he notified Spurry on Aug. 2 that his army reserve unit might be called to active duty after the United States started sending troops to Saudi Arabia.
Two days later, Spurry fired Smith and terminated their business relationship, Smith says in the suit. "(Spurry) has broken all of those agreements, promises and inducements upon which Smith relied," the suit says.
"All of the damages which Smith has and is suffering are directly attributable to (Spurry's) summary dismissal of Smith and termination of their business relationships," says Smith's suit, filed by Bel Air attorney Harold J. Tulley.
Before joining Spurry's company, Smith worked in the tire sales business for 13 years, the suit says. He most recently worked as a district manager for Yokohama Tire Corp.
At the time Smith was considering the business venture with Spurry, Smith claims in the suit that Yokohama offered him apromotion as national marketing manager, a position that would have meant moving to California.
The plaintiff was earning $62,000 a year in salary and bonuses with Yokohama, the suit says. The promotion would have provided Smith with a $100,000 annual salary, he contends.
Smith says in the suit he decided to join Spurry's firm to get the chance to own his own business, which could eventually be taken over by his three children.
According to the suit, Smith and Spurry formed Bay Tire Ltd. to service and market tires. The new company was based in Smith's Bel Air home.
Smith was promised a base salary of$4,000 a month, commissions of $5,000 a month and profit shares of $12,000 a year, the suit says.
After Spurry terminated his businessrelationship with Smith, Smith tried to regain his position with Yokohama, the suit says. But Smith said he was told that Yokohama has a policy of not re-hiring employees after they resign.