Updated July 28, 2014. Editor's Note: The case against Promaxima Manufacturing was dismissed for lack of prosecution.
At 2 a.m., Houston trucker Daniel Moye was the only driver on the road, speeding through the remote mountains of northern California to meet his deadline and drop off a load of exercise equipment.
Suddenly, his engine stopped. An electrical lead from the battery to the cut-off switch broke. Not equipped, trained or authorized to fix it and out of cell phone range, Moye found himself stranded in what is known in California as the Lost Coast.
This is all according to a lawsuit Moye filed in Harris County District Court against his former employer, Houston-based fitness equipment manufacturer Promaxima Manufacturing.
Sitting in his cab, Moye claims he saw a sign pointing to a ranger station 14 miles away. He stayed put until daybreak and then, carrying only a light jacket and a pistol to fight off mountain lions and bears, Moye began the trek.
More than six hours later, Moye arrived at the ranger station. It was closed. Moye tried again to get a cell phone signal. No luck. His only hope was what he thought looked like a fire station at the base of the mountain way off in the distance.
After resting an hour, Moye set out again, not knowing it was a 17 mile hike that lay ahead. By nightfall, he was still walking, as temperatures dipped below 40 degrees and icy, gale-force winds punished his face and body. Moye was exhausted and his feet were badly blistered. Convinced he was going to die, he sat down and wrote a farewell letter to his wife in case his body was ever found.
But Moye pressed on, eventually making his way to the building, which turned out to be a prison. From there, he was moved to a local hospital, where Moye was treated for hypothermia, dehydration, and his ravaged feet. When the hospital discharged Moye, doctors gave him several narcotic pain-killers.
Moye claims his employer did spring for a hotel room, but because his company did not provide him transportation and because Moye had left his wallet in the rig, Moye had to hobble one mile to the hotel on his damaged feet.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Inside his room, Moye claims he spoke with his boss, Robert Leppke, also a defendant in the lawsuit. Moye claims that after he told Leppke he could not drive that afternoon because he'd taken pain killers, Leppke cursed at him. The next morning, Moye claims that Leppke demanded that Moye finish his deliveries. Moye once more told Leppke he could not because he was still taking pain meds, and therefore it was against the law to drive a heavy truck, and because his feet were so badly injured that he could barely operate the car pedals. That's when Leppke fired Moye, says Moye.
Moye later paid for his own airplane ticket back to Houston and has never been allowed to retrieve his wallet or other personal items from the truck, Moye's attorney, Howard Dulmage, tells Hair Balls.
In the following months, Moye could not get work at other trucking companies because Lepkke was telling them that Moye had abandoned his truck, says the lawsuit. Moye has still been unable to find work that pays as well as his old job and continues to suffer physically and emotionally, he claims.
Hair Ball contacted Leppke's office and was forwarded to a colleague. That man, who did not give his name, declined to comment on the allegations and then abruptly hung up the phone.