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Clothiers Claim Kurt Busch Did Them Wrong

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Kurt Busch backed out on a promotion deal with a clothing company and badmouthed it to NASCAR to prevent it from working with other drivers, the California company claims in court.

Luke and Charis Burrett and their companies Panic Switch and One Punch Distribution sued Busch and his company Silver Lining Apparel Co., on Oct. 7 in Orange County Court.

Busch, the older brother of fellow driver Kyle, competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving a Chevrolet. He has 24 racing victories and is ranked 28th in NASCAR's all-time wins list, according to his online biography. He has a history of conflicts with other drivers.

Panic Switch and One Punch specialize in racecar clothing and merchandise. The Burretts claim Busch approached them in 2012, seeking "to expand his brand and his name recognition" through their company, in exchange for which he would introduce them to the NASCAR community.

Promising to promote their Panic Switch brand, Busch persuaded the Burretts "to abandon their other lines of business and to focus their efforts entirely on NASCAR-related apparel and sales," the complaint states.

A year later, Busch bought a 25 percent interest in Panic Switch and One Punch, with Luke Burrett owning the other 75 percent, according to the complaint.

The Burretts say they developed an "Outlaw" clothing line featuring Busch's likeness and promoted it at NASCAR events. In turn, they say, Busch promised to help expand their business by introducing them to other drivers and loaning them $300,000 for a contract with Monster Energy.

Though Busch promised to be a "loyal and dependable business partner," the Burretts say, he double-crossed them by signing contracts with other merchandisers that compete with them - including ones that sell "knockoff" apparel based on the Burretts' proprietary designs.

Then "a domestic violence scandal involving his [Busch's] former girlfriend" made news in September 2014, generating so much bad publicity for anyone associated with him that the Burretts lost prospective contracts with three other drivers, they say in the lawsuit.

Then Busch "bad-mouthed" them to the NASCAR community, and though they "were on the verge of entering into a lucrative contract with Monster," Monster killed the deal, the Burretts say.

"Although it is Busch whose improper conduct has generated adverse publicity and negatively affected plaintiffs' business ventures, Busch has been actively spreading word throughout the NASCAR community that plaintiffs and Charis Burrett are the root of the problem and that their negative images have necessitated that he sever ties with them. These statements and innuendos are utterly false and misleading, as defendants are well aware. They reflect an effort by Busch to wrongly make plaintiffs a scapegoat for his own personal foibles and misconduct," the complaint states.

Before Busch stabbed them in the back, the Burretts say, they stood by him during the domestic violence fiasco and now face a multimillion-dollar defamation suit brought by his former girlfriend.

"This lawsuit resulted directly from their efforts - now realized as mistaken - to stand

by Busch and support his character," the complaint states.

To cap it off, the Burretts say: "Plaintiffs have later learned that at the time that Busch was representing to them that he enjoyed a good reputation and the respect of his peers on the NASCAR circuit prior to entering into the MPA, Busch in fact had been accused of several instances of domestic violence and abuse of women."

Busch did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

The Burretts seek an injunction, disgorgement, restitution, and punitive damages for 10 causes of action, including breach of contract, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, unfair business practices, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

They are represented by Anthony Duffy of Irvine, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

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