STK - Money Gavel

RIVERDALE — Stung by an employee’s theft of $330,000 in electronic gift cards and a subsequent lawsuit by a scammed customer, Home Depot has filed a third-party civil complaint against the fired worker.

The retailer’s attorneys filed documents Friday in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court in the latest twist of the legal saga arising from the card thefts involving the Riverdale store in 2017-18.

In its third-party complaint, Home Depot seeks a money judgment against Daniel Martinez “for the loss of merchandise, revenue, profits and possession of the (cards) stolen by Martinez.” It also asks the court for a declaratory judgment confirming Home Depot’s right, title, use and value of the stolen cards and the products and services obtained with them.

Weber County resident Kaitlyn Peterson sued Home Depot after the company in May 2018 deactivated about $165,000 in cards that it discovered had been stolen by Martinez. She had responded to a ksl.com classified ad offering discounted Home Depot electronic gift cards.

Peterson said she was stuck with $125,000 in deactivated cards and alleged Home Depot should have better controlled its gift cards and employees.

After Home Depot detected the scam, Martinez was fired and he was charged and convicted of communications fraud. A judge ordered him to pay Home Depot more than $161,000 in restitution. Ogden police determined Martinez had stolen $330,000 in cards.

According to court records, between Oct. 7, 2017, and May 16, 2018, Peterson made 12 purchases from Martinez for a total of $198,225.

In a counterclaim filed against Peterson Feb. 14, Home Depot said it owes her nothing because she never held legal title to any of the gift cards. It also sought recovery of the value of merchandise Peterson bought with the cards, perhaps $70,000.

Home Depot’s latest filing alleges Martinez and Peterson conspired to obtain the cards for Peterson’s benefit.

The retailer denied allegations of negligence, but added, “Should Home Depot nevertheless be found liable on any theory as a result of the alleged damages purportedly suffered by Peterson, the actions or omissions of Home Depot were passive and secondary, while those of Martinez were active, primary and/or superseding.”

Consequently, it said, any liability the court may find should be apportioned against Martinez.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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