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Michael Waltrip Racing, pit crew member resolve legal dispute

Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Waltrip Racing and a pit crew member who filed a wrongful-firing lawsuit against the now-defunct team have "amicably resolved their disputes," both sides said in a statement Wednesday. Terms were not disclosed.

Tire changer Brandon Hopkins sued the defunct Cornelius-based motorsports team in 2015. He claimed he was fired after taking a leave for surgery from a shoulder injury he suffered when he was hit by a car during a NASCAR race.

Hopkins helped Michael Waltrip Racing to its first Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year Award in 2012.

He contended that team officials "blacklisted" him after his surgery by falsely accusing him of stealing a pit gun used to remove lug nuts.

As a result, he lost an unpaid internship with another NASCAR Sprint Cup team and paid work with a NASCAR Truck Series team, Hopkins said in the lawsuit filed by Charlotte lawyer Joshua Van Kampen in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.

Hopkins sued for damages, citing breach of contract, defamation, intentional interference with a contract and violating the N.C. blacklisting statute and federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act.

Wednesday's statement said both sides resolved their disputes "in their entirety, and wish each other well in the future."

"Michael Waltrip Racing acknowledges that Brandon was a talented tire changer and wishes him well in the sport," the statement added. "Brandon acknowledges that he enjoyed his years with Michael Waltrip Racing and wishes his former teammates well in the future."

Lawyer Kevin Murphy of Van Kampen Law in Charlotte released the statement and said he could say nothing further, including whether a financial settlement was involved.

(c)2017 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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