Crew member lawsuit against Michael Waltrip Racing will continue

A Mecklenburg County judge has ruled against Michael Waltrip Racing's motions to dismiss claims in a lawsuit by a former front tire changer. Brandon Hopkins sued the now-defunct Cornelius-based motorsports team last year.

He claims 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. He contends 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 says 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. The team's lawyers wanted a judge to dismiss claims Hopkins sought under the two federal acts, but Judge Louis Bledsoe allowed the case to proceed. Charlotte Observer

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