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Bussey v. Ray Brandt Nissan, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 19, 2018

KENDALL BUSSEY
v.
RAY BRANDT NISSAN, INC.

         SECTION "S"(4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #15) is GRANTED as to finding that the contract encompasses a release of the claims plaintiff asserts in this litigation. The motion is DENIED as a determination whether the contract is invalid because the plaintiff signed it under duress.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter is before the court on a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant, Ray Brant Nissan, Inc. Ray Brant argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because the plaintiff, Kendall Bussey, contractually waived his right to bring the claims he asserts in this case.

         Bussey, an African-American, was employed by Ray Brant from 1997 until January 2, 2014, when he was terminated. Thereafter, Bussey and his friend Gilbert V. “Gibby” Andry, IV, who is an attorney, met at a café in Metairie, Louisiana with Terry Q. Alarcon, who is Ray Brandt's attorney, and Ed Merida, who Bussey describes as Ray Brandt's “body guard.” Alarcon presented Bussey with a document entitled “General Release of All Claims, ” and gave Bussey and Andry time to review the document.

         In his affidavit, Bussey claims that during the meeting, Merida brandished a firearm and threatened him and Andry if they continued to question the terms of the “General Release of All Claims.” Bussey claims that Merida said he has “killed better m*ther f***ers . . .” than Bussey and Andry. Bussey states that he was afraid that Merida would make good on the threats to harm him and Andry and he signed the document “because [he] was scared to death not to sign it.” Andry stated in his affidavit that Merida “became hostile and used foul language and threats[.]”

         Later that same day, Bussey called Alarcon and informed him that he was ready to sign the “General Release of All Claims” document. The document provides, in pertinent part:

In consideration of the sum of $50, 000.00 in full payment of my entire ownership in Dealership Holdings, LLC dba Ray Brandt Kia, $46, 747.15 in full payment of my entire ownership in Ray Brandt Automotive, LLC dba Ray Brandt Mazda, and $1, 500.00 in full payment of my entire ownership in Ray Brandt Hyundai, LLC, and the accounting for my final compensation as reflected on Exhibit A attached hereto, the undersigned, Kendall Bussey, Sr., hereby releases and discharges Ray Brandt Nissan, Inc., Ray Brandt Imports, LLC dba Ray Brandt Volkswagen Westbank, Dealership Holdings, LLC dba Ray Brandt Kia, Ray Brandt Automotive, LLC dba Ray Brandt Mazda, and any other related company owned directly by or indirectly by Raymond J. Brandt whether named or not, and its employees, agents, successors, heirs, executors, administrators, and representatives from any and all claims and causes of action of any nature arising from my compensation as an employee or my interest in any entity sold to Raymond J. Brandt this day.
The undersigned claimant acknowledges receipt of the above consideration. The undersigned claimant intends by this release to release and discharge claims which have been asserted and those claims which could have been asserted as a result of the subject purchase. The undersigned claimant releases all claims whether direct, indirect, or derivative, arising from the subject employment and sale. This release is intended to release and discharge claims resulting from the purchase, whether known or unknown, incurred or accrued, and those which may be incurred or which may accrue in the future; the possibility of unknown, future, remote or contingent claims is anticipated in the consideration accepted for the release.
This payment and release is made in compromise and settlement of disputed claims. . . . The parties released have paid the above consideration, and the undersigned claimant has/have accepted it to avoid costs, expenses, fees, risks, inconvenience, and other consequences of this dispute.

         On October 29, 2014, Bussey filed a Charge of Discrimination against Ray Brandt with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging that he was terminated because of his race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. On December 9, 2017, the EEOC issued a “Determination” finding reasonable cause to believe that Ray Brandt violated Title VII in its treatment of Bussey. On February 8, 2017, the EEOC sent Bussey a Right to Sue letter. Thereafter, Bussey filed this action against Ray Brandt alleging race discrimination claims arising under Title VII and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law.

         Ray Brandt filed the instant motion for summary judgment arguing that, by signing the “General Release of All Claims” document, Bussey relinquished his right to bring race discrimination claims against Ray Brandt. Bussey argues that the contract did not encompass such claims and ...


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