Daniel Delaney didn't last long on the payroll of Anchor Towing and Recovery LLC. He says that's because he didn't like having a handgun jammed against his temple, even if it was all in good fun.
Bellevue resident Delaney, 35, filed suit this week against Anchor, a firm based on Dickerson Road that has a contract to tow cars at the direction of Metro Nashville officials. His lawsuit, lodged in Davidson County Circuit Court and available at this link, claims the company let a colleague menace him with a pistol and then fired him when he pressed charges.
Delaney spent only a week as a driver for Anchor, hiring on with the company on Feb. 9 of this year. He asserts that fellow employee Jason Miller, 25, "was in the habit of wearing a holstered pistol while at work," despite not being licensed to carry a handgun. And he says the company tolerated Miller's carrying of the weapon while on the job.
Delaney says that on Valentine's Day he was sitting in the drivers' lounge, watching TV, when Miller "smacked" him on the back of the head with the pistol, then pointed the weapon straight at his face from three feet away. The lawsuit suggests Miller thought this act was amusing. Miller allegedly bonked Delaney in the noggin again with the gun later that night.
The next morning, as the two men went out on a repo call, Miller "pulled out his pistol a third time and pointed it forcefully into Delaney's temple ... pinning his head between the open barrel of the gun and the passenger-side window," according to the court filing.
Delaney, "scared for his life," begged Miller to put the gun away, and Miller did, laughing, the lawsuit claims.
Delaney says he told a manager about Miller's behavior, but that management did not deal with it to his satisfaction. On Feb. 16, Delaney swore out a warrant for Miller's arrest. Davidson County Criminal Court records show Miller was taken into custody on the 16th and charged with aggravated assault, a felony. The charging affidavit says the weapon involved may have been a .40-caliber Glock pistol.
Manager Janie Wandell called Delaney on Feb. 17, the complaint says, and told him he was fired. The lawsuit quotes her as telling him: "Our company is trying to build its reputation up, and we don't need no trouble like you around here."
Delaney claims he was dismissed solely because he filed the police report and that Anchor had a duty "to provide Delaney with a work environment free from the fear of physical assault and imminent death at the hand of a co-worker."
The complaint says Delaney is suffering "severe emotional distress, worry, anxiety and loss of sleep as a result of Miller's gunplay." To compensate for that harm as well as his loss of income, he seeks more than $2.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages from Anchor. Miller is not named as a defendant.
Nashville attorney Peter T. Skeie filed suit on Delaney's behalf.
Attempts to reach managers at Anchor yesterday were unsuccessful.
Miller, contacted while working at Anchor on Wednesday, referred questions to his personal counsel, Hugh Garrett of Jackson Kweller McKinney Warden Lewis & Hayes. Garrett said he was not at liberty to discuss the criminal case in detail. He did say: "Obviously, our view of what happened differs greatly from the version given in the warrant."