Court documents say both sides agreed on 'all issues' but don't specify terms or the amount of money involved
Fayetteville car dealer Mike Lallier has settled a lawsuit filed by a fired employee for an undisclosed amount of money, according to documents filed with the Cumberland County Clerk of Court.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 27 against Lallier, his father in law, Gene Reed, and their holding companies, sought more than $25,000 from each man on 10 claims for relief. The claims included wrongful termination, abuse of process, obstruction of justice, unfair and deceptive trade practices and civil conspiracy.
Among other things, the lawsuit accused Lallier of engaging in sexual acts with at least seven adult male employees and with smuggling marijuana from Mexico to Texas as a young man in the 1970s.
The lawsuit says one of the employees he allegedly had sex with was paid $450,000 to keep quiet, while another employee was paid $100,000.
Lallier was charged Sept. 5 in Darlington County, South Carolina, with molesting a 15-year-old boy over the Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway, which was hosting the NASCAR series. A trial is pending in that case. Lallier faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The latest court document in the lawsuit, filed March 3, shows that Lallier and the fired employee — listed as John Doe — entered into arbitration and reached an agreement “on all issues.” The document was signed by Auley M. Crouch III, a certified mediator from Wilmington.
The document doesn’t disclose terms of the settlement or say whether the fired employee agreed to keep the settlement a secret. The fired employee and his lawyers aren’t saying, either.
“I am unable to comment about any terms of the settlement,” said lawyer Walter Tippett of Raleigh.
David Courie, a lawyer for Lallier, could not be reached.
But correspondence dated Jan. 24 from Tippett to an earlier mediator shows that Lallier had offered to pay the fired employee $250,000 over 18 months. The fired employee counter-offered with an immediate payment of $1.5 million and Lallier’s ownership interests in three small businesses. The memo says the “defendants have not responded” to the counter offer.
The fired employee filed his lawsuit three days later.
The Fayetteville Observer is not naming the fired employee because to do so could reveal the identity of the boy who alleges that Lallier molested him.
Lallier had been prominent in Fayetteville’s business, political and social scenes before he was charged with molesting the boy. He served on the Fayetteville Public Works Commission’s board for a dozen years, including many years as its chairman.
Lallier won the Realtor’s Cup, awarded by the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, in 2013. The cup is presented to someone who has made outstanding contributions to the civic, industrial and cultural growth of the Fayetteville area. Lallier’s dealership won business of the year award honors the same year.
The man who sued Lallier had worked for his Reed-Lallier Chevrolet dealership on Raeford Road for many years before Lallier fired him in January.
The fired employee said in his lawsuit that he was among the people who brought the alleged assault of the boy to the attention of Darlington County deputies.
In January, Lallier dismissed a lawsuit he filed that attempted to force the fired employee into arbitration in an apparent attempt to keep him from talking publicly about the case in South Carolina.
Included in that lawsuit was an exhibit that says lawyers for four boys were in discussions with Courie on Sept. 6 and 7. Those were the first two days following Lallier’s arrest.
The document is a Sept. 7 letter from lawyer Michael Porter that is titled “confidential settlement communication.”
Porter wrote that he and lawyer Reed Noble were representing the four boys and two men “in regards to the conduct/activities of your client that we discussed with you yesterday.”
One of the men identified in the letter is the employee who was fired.
An out-of-town judge has ordered that case sealed, along with his order to seal it.
It is not known publicly whether people in that case reached settlement agreements with Lallier.
In South Carolina, a judge’s gag order remains in effect for Lallier’s criminal proceedings. The gag order bars anyone from talking or sharing documents pertaining to the case outside of a courtroom.
The Observer has filed a motion seeking to have the gag order dissolved on grounds that it is unconstitutional. But Judge Roger E. Henderson of the 4th Judicial Circuit has postponed a hearing on the matter. The hearing had been rescheduled for Monday, but Henderson recently had eye surgery, according to the Observer’s lawyer.
Staff writer Greg Barnes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3525.