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Judy Greenwald

Dismissal of gun-wielding Walgreen pharmacist upheld on appeal

June 3, 2014 - 8:21am

Jeremy Hoven Walgreen Pharmacist

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011 photo, Jeremy Hoven, a pharmacist from Benton Harbor who was fired for using his concealed handgun to shoot at robbers, speaks during a news conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


An appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a Walgreen Co. pharmacist who was terminated after he fired his own gun during an armed robbery at his store.

Jeremy Hoven, who had worked as a staff pharmacist at Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen Co. since 2006, obtained a permit to carry a concealed weapon after he experienced an armed robbery at work in 2007 and Walgreen did not comply with his requests to increase its security systems, according to Monday's ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in Jeremy R. Hoven v. Walgreen Co.

On May 8, 2011, while he was working overnight at a Walgreen store in Benton Harbor, Michigan, two masked individuals with guns entered the store. Mr. Hoven tried to dial 911, but one of the masked gunmen jumped over the counter and pointed a gun at Mr. Hoven, according to the ruling.

When Mr. Hoven observed that individual's finger jerking on the gun's trigger, he backed away and fired his gun multiple times. No one was shot or injured during the incident, according to the ruling.

Six days later, he was told he had violated Walgreen's nonescalation policy and had the choice to resign or be terminated. He was terminated after he said he would not resign, according to the ruling.

Mr. Hoven's lawsuit, which was originally filed in a Michigan state court and later transferred to federal court, claimed Walgreen had terminated him in violation of Michigan public policy for “lawfully exercising his right of self-defense, the defense of others, and to carry a concealed weapon.” A U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, dismissed the case, and Mr. Hoven appealed.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously upheld the lower court's ruling. In his complaint, Mr. Hoven identified seven sources of public policy. The ruling said he “identified seven sources of public policy that he asserts support his claim.” that he asserts supported his claim, including the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I of the Michigan Constitution, both of which deal with the rights of self-defense, according to the ruling.

“However, under Michigan law, constitutional provisions may not be the source of a claim for termination in violation of public policy against a private employer,” said the ruling, which said the other public policy sources are inapplicable as well.

“Because Hoven fails to identify a public-policy source that supports his claim, we affirm the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to Walgreen,” said the appellate panel, in upholding dismissal of the case.

 



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