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Judge: BBQ exec must pay sex harassment settlement

Posted December 16, 2008

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— A Superior Court judge has ordered the chief executive of the Smithfield's Chicken 'n Bar-B-Q chain to pay a settlement reached last year to end a former male employee's sexual harassment lawsuit.

Following a two-week trial, a jury in October 2007 ordered Gregory Moore to pay $1.15 million to Jason Hallaman, who said Moore fired him in 2002 as his personal assistant after Hallaman rebuffed sexual advances. Jurors were set to consider punitive damages against Moore when he and Hallaman agreed on a settlement.

Under the settlement, Moore was to pay Hallaman $449,200 in three installments, and he also was to pay Hallaman's attorneys $375,780 in three installments.

After making the first payments to Hallaman and his attorneys, Moore skipped the second and third installments and tried to have the settlement voided. He said Hallaman's attorneys bribed witnesses to testify in the sex harassment case.

Several former Smithfield's employees testified during the 2007 trial that they also rejected Moore's overtures and were subsequently fired.

Moore tearfully acknowledged to jurors that he is bisexual, but he denied doing anything wrong. He said he fired Hallaman because of poor job performance and because Hallaman had forged his name on a check.

In a judgment filed last week, Superior Court Judge Abraham Jones dismissed Moore's claims seeking to void the settlement, saying Hallaman's attorneys paid travel costs for witnesses who lived out of state and to compensate them for income lost to attend the trial. Both are common practices, the judge ruled.

Jones ordered Moore to pay the $260,000 still owed to Hallaman and the $165,000 still owed to the attorneys, plus any interest accrued from the dates the payments were originally due.

Moore opened the first Smithfield's restaurant in 1980 with his former wife and is chief executive of Cary Keisler Inc., formerly Smithfield Management Corp., which operates the chain of 32 restaurants across eastern North Carolina.

18 Comments

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  • bk3s Dec 16, 2008

    GetRight
    Try Danny's BBQ on Ashville Ave in Cary. It's across from the Wal-Mart on Kildare Farm Rd. Otherwise try chowhound.com for more restaurant recommendations.

    Tinnutt74
    You would not eat at SCNB because you choose not to provide financial support to a sexual predator. The original WRAL story states, "The butler (employee) was injured in a motorcycle wreck and discharged into Moore's care. The butler claims that one night when he was heavily medicated, Moore climbed into his bed and anally penetrated him"
    That is the very definition of a sexual predator. The action of not patronizing Mr Moore's restaurant will speak louder to him than a jury.

  • Funky Neighbor LEE Dec 16, 2008

    "and he also was to pay Hallaman's attorneys $375,780"

    Holy Moly, John Edwards will probably not go back to chasing ambulances and hang out at the chicken joint instead.

  • bossman63076 Dec 16, 2008

    Another of one person humiliating himself so some lawyer can share the wealth. The lawyer will probably run for some political office at some point and finish screwing the rest of the citizens.The total award was $449,200 to the plaintiff plus $375,780 paid to the attorneys - both split into 3 installments, totalling about $825,000 - still a lot of money.

  • doinbizzness Dec 16, 2008

    "The jury should have found him guilty and fined him 1.00. The judge thanks the jury and tells them they were great. Everyone goes home happy-- well almost everyone!"

    superman????? what message does this send to other employers NOT to sexually harrass his/her employees? OH NO!!! if i do this it might cost me a whole $1.00. what a ridiculous statement.

  • endless Dec 16, 2008

    No, no. When you settle something you usually settle for less than what you think you could get or the jury awarded to avoid further appeals and expenses.

    the total award was $449,200 to the plaintiff plus $375,780 paid to the attorneys - both split into 3 installments, totalling about $825,000 - still a lot of money.

    But ultimately kind of a clunky sentence by WRAL.com. Not that mine are any less clunky!

  • superman Dec 16, 2008

    The jury should have found him guilty and fined him 1.00. The judge thanks the jury and tells them they were great. Everyone goes home happy-- well almost everyone!

  • 4lilboys Dec 16, 2008

    $2,899,940.... WOW! That is all I have to say. Maybe he will go to work and stay in his office (keeping his hands and thoughts to himself) from now on.

  • Heathen Dec 16, 2008

    If the plaintiff was fired because he did not reciprocate the sexual advancements, then that is wrong. It is also wrong however to be greedy and ask for all that money in damages and I am assuming lost wages. Having to pay three installments at almost $500,000 in each one is ridiculous. It is also crazy to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees as well. I could understand asking for some of the fees but not all. This sounds like a case of my boss made me angry so I am going to get back at him. Men call women vindictive but this case shows that men can be vindictive as well.

  • doinbizzness Dec 16, 2008

    ohhhhh what a nasty fella' this guy is. if i would have been the plantiff there would have been "off setting" penalties. he would have been charged with harrassment and i would have been charged with assault and battery.

  • Eduardo1 Dec 16, 2008

    veyor...I agree with you. This is nothing but a CASH COW for the attorney, AND a petty issue, maybe worth a few thousand dollars to the person who felt harrassed. How did did it affect his life on a scale of one-ten on the negative side

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