The following is the letter from Kumen Taylor (Flying J's Corporate WHORE) represented here verbatim. This letter was sent to Richard Radke (my first Michigan Lawyer) only 19 days after the “Investigation” was turned over to him by another Flying J Lawyer.
NOTE: Click on the color-coded text to compare with testimony in the corresponding color.
= link to Goolsby’s testimony
GREEN TEXT = link to Cody’s testimony
ORANGE TEXT = link to Tammy’s testimony
YELLOW TEXT = link to Gordon County testimony
SILVER TEXT = link to Witness Statements
50 WEST 990
P.O. BOX 678
BRIGHAM CITY, UTAH 84302-0678
PHONE (435)734-6400 • FAX (435)734-6556
November 2, 1998
Richard Radke, Jr.
Kluczynski. Girtz & Vogelzang
38 West Fulton Suite 400
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
RE: Michael Hankins v. Flying J
Dear Mr. Radke,
I have substantially completed my investigation into the facts regarding the assault which your client claims he suffered at the hands of Flying J employees in Resaca, Georgia, on or about December 9, 1997. The following is a narrative explanation of what our witnesses and employees say occurred.
On the evening of December 9, 1997, there were several semis that entered our facility and were parked illegally in such a way that the driveway was blocked and was causing a dangerous situation because semis were not able to enter, many of them were backed up along the highway and the Flying J employees out in the parking area radioed into the fuel desk and asked the cashier to begin calling out the names and numbers of several of the illegally parked trucks, in order to have their drivers move them. Mr. Hankins' truck was one of those trucks which was illegally parked. Indeed, it was one at the trucks which was principally responsible for the blockage of the driveway. When the fuel desk cashier paged Mr. Hankins he came up to her very loud, very agitated and in a very abusive manner told her that there was no way he was going in move his truck. Mr. Hankins used very foul and abusive language towards the fuel deck cashier calling her a whore and a bitch, among other terms, and threatening her and the other cashier. At that time the fuel desk manager came up to him and requested that he please move his truck because it was blocking the driveway and causing a backup of semis. Mr. Hankins reacted in the same tone as with the cashiers except that he also got physical with the fuel desk manager , got in his face using very foul and abusive language and threatening him. He told him there was no way any of them would make him move his truck until he was good and ready to move it. Mr. Hankins was informed that if he did not move his truck they would have at towed as the truck was illegally parked and creating a hazard.
Mr. Hankins still refused to move his truck and continued in his threatening behavior and highly abusive language. At that point the fuel desk manager went to the General Manager’s office and requested his assistance.and told him that he needed to move his truck because a was illegally parked and was creating a hazard Your client turned his attentions to the general manager and began to shove him and push him around threatening him and using extremely foul and abusive language your client then left the store and started walking out toward the trucks. The General Manager and two or three of the employees followed him out because there were several trucks illegally parked and they were going to notify the drivers to move the trucks. When your client noticed that the general manager and those employees were walking out towards the trucks, he turned around and walked back to the general manager and began pushing him and shoving him and threatening him again, using very profane language. The General Manager finally told him that his truck would have to be moved and that they were calling the Sheriff to have him removed from the premises. At that point your client got into the face of the General Manager, screaming and making threats.
During this period, neither the General Manager nor any other Flying J employee had raised their voice or done anything to antagonize Mr. Hankins, other than to request that be remove his illegally parked truck because of the hazard it was creating. When Mr. Hankins got in the General Manager's face in a very threatening manner, an employee attempted to step between them and told Mr. Hankins he should just leave and stop what he was doing. Mr. Hankins turned to this employee and spit in his face. The employee related to me that he was very angry and humiliated by what Mr. Hankins had done but he stepped back in order to avoid any further confrontation with Mr. Hankins. The General Manager then insisted that Mr. Hankins leave and that the Sheriff had been called and he would be removed from the premises.
Mr. Hankins again began walking towards the illegally parked trucks, followed by the General Manager and these other employees who were going to ask the other drivers to move their trucks. At this point Mr. Hankins began playing some sort of game with our General Manager. As they proceeded out towards the parking lot it was quite dark. Mr. Hankins would suddenly stop. which would cause our General Manager to almost run into him This happened two or three tines The last time it occurred they were in between two semis, of which was the one operated by Mr. Hankins. Mr. Hankins stopped and The General Manager tried to walk around Mr. Hankins, to go talk to those truckers whose trucks were also blocking the driveway. As he passed Mr. Hankins, Mr. Hankins swung a fist at our General Manager without warning and struck him in the face, knocking him to the ground. While our General Manger was still on the ground, Mr. Hankins lunged toward him with the apparent intent of continuing his attack. At that point, one of out employees grabbed Mr. Hankins and bulldogged him to the ground, landing on top of him. Mr. Hankins landed face and chest first on the ground. Mr. Hankins continued to fight and to thrash around and two other employees grabbed his arms to help subdue him.
As to Mr. Hankins claim that he was
punched approximately 15 or 20 times, I questioned all of the involved employees
concerning this. Those who were directly involved with subduing Mr. Hankins deny
throwing punches. They do state that because of the violence that Mr. Hankins
was threatening and because of the assault he had committed on the General
Manager, they did not handle him with kid gloves. They used the force they
thought was necessary to subdue him. They are all adamant that Mr. Hankins had
gone berserk and was acting in an unusually hyper agitated, threatening and
violent manner throughout this episode. Several of them stated that he was
taller and bigger than they were and they were afraid of him and were concerned
of potentieal violence.
(NOTE: I am 5"11' and weighed between 155 and 165 all of my life until recently, I now weigh about 195. All the Flying J employees testified at deposition they weigh 240 lbs plus)
However, once they had him on the ground, they did not do anything other than try to calm him down until the police arrived. When Mr. Hankins began complaining of pain from various injuries, they tried to make him comfortable on the sidewalk while continuing to keep him subdued because he was still not completely calmed down and they were concerned that tie would continue to act violently.
According to these witnesses, there were no other truckdrivers nearby when this incident occurred. It happened between two trucks, which were parked only a few feet apart from each other. It is believed that there may have been a driver inside one of the semis. Both of these semis were illegally parked and one of the employees believes he talked to the driver of the other semi and that this driver was also belligerent and refusing to move his truck but was not threatening and abusive like Mr. Hankins was. This same truck driver, it is believed, gave a statement to the police in which he alleged that Flying J's employees had beaten Mr. Hankins. Prior to the police arriving, and after the scuffle, this truck driver came up and began trying to incite other truck drivers against the Flying J employees.
In talking with these employees they are all adamant that Mr. Hankins was under the influence of alcohol or drugs He was not acting normal and was acting in a hyper-agitated, violent and threatening manner throughout this episode. He verbally assaulted and threatened between six and eight of our employees and physically and verbally assaulted three employees prior to this scuffle. Those employees directly involved in subduing Mr. Hankins all expressed that they were very fearful Mr. Hankins would become increasingly violent because of his demeanor and the threats that he was making. Under these circumstances, I believe that our employees used force reasonably necessary to subdue Mr. Hankins and to prevent him from committing further violent acts. A trucker told one of the employees later that they were fortunate that Mr. Hankins did not make it to his cab because he had a gun in his cab.
It is truly unfortunate and we are sorry that Mr. Hankins suffered the injuries he did. It appears that his arm was fractured during the time period that they were trying to subdue him. Nonetheless, I do not believe the force they were using was excessive, given Mr. Hankins violent, hyper-agitated and threatening state. These gentlemen were simply trying to subdue him to prevent further acts of violence by him.
Given these witness statements I do not believe that Flying J would be held liable for Mr. Hankins injuries. Mr. Hankins made an unprovoked attack on our General Manager and during the attempt to subdue him he suffered these injuries. However, he was not beaten he was taken to the ground. His injuries appear to be the result of his fall to the ground with our employee on top of him. Bear in mind, however, that Mr. Hankins has already physically assaulted three of our employees and had verbally assaulted or threatened six or eight other employees. Several of them expressed the fact that they were put in fear for their personal safety and were simply trying to get Mr. Hankins to calm down and move his truck. His truck, along with several others, was blocking the driveway and creating a hazardous situation by forcing other semis to park along the highway. He was illegally parked and he knew it. Nonetheless, he was refusing to move his truck.
I realize that there two sides to every story and that Mr. Hankins has told you his side, which apparently bears little resemblance to that related by our employees. However, Mr. Hankins should be aware that if he files a lawsuit against us, we will also counterclaim for assault and battery on our employees and for trespassing because he was illegally parked, he knew it and refused to move after having been requested several times to do so.
If you have additional information that you believe would affect or change my analysis of this case, I am more than willing to consider it. However at this time I must respectfully deny your claim.
With best regards,
Kumen L. Taylor
Associate Corporate Counsel