- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2003

NORFOLK (AP) — A sudden, irresistible urge. A portable toilet. A confrontation with an angry construction worker. Now, a federal lawsuit.

William Tremmel, 68, of Altoona, Pa., needed to go. Badly. So he dashed to the nearest portable toilet on the Virginia Beach boardwalk.

Problem was, it belonged to construction workers for Weeks Marine, a company hired by the city to replenish the beach. And those workers were fed up with outsiders using the company can.

They retaliated, Mr. Tremmel claims in a lawsuit filed last month, by driving a bulldozer or front-end loader to the toilet and blocking the doorway, pinning him “inside the rank tomb.”

Mr. Tremmel is seeking $100,000 for the Aug. 19, 2001, incident.

Weeks doesn’t deny its employee blocked Mr. Tremmel in the toilet but says the worker was within his rights.

Mr. Tremmel says he was locked inside for 25 minutes. He claims members of his family shouted at the worker, but the man left and returned with his foreman, who chastised Mr. Tremmel through the closed door and accused him of trespassing.

Mr. Tremmel says the “abduction and false imprisonment” caused him “humiliation, mortification, shame, vilification, injury to his feelings, mental suffering, insult and indignity.” Mr. Tremmel and his wife were celebrating their anniversary.

The lawsuit also says Mr. Tremmel has emphysema, was recovering from prostate surgery and had undergone double-bypass heart surgery.

Weeks Marine denied that the workers chastised Mr. Tremmel or that he was locked in the toilet for almost half an hour. Weeks says in court papers that its workers believed blocking Mr. Tremmel’s exit was “reasonable” because he was “wrongfully using the Port-o-let.”

No hearing date has been set.

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