Kyle Barnett May 23, 2013, 7:53pm

GRETNA – A Jefferson Parish man is suing his brother who he alleges illegally took over their family business.

John Patrick Payton filed suit against Bruce M. Payton and Audio Visual Mart Inc. in the 24th Judicial District Court on April 1. John Patrick claims he was a one-third owner and president of Audio Visual Mart for several years and that his brothers Bruce and Keith also each owned a one-third share of the business. The plaintiff alleges that in March 2012 Bruce acquired Keith’s one-third share in the business to become the controlling shareholder of the business. John Patrick asserts that on March 7, 2012, and without a shareholder vote, Bruce changed the locks on the business and excluded him from the business premises.

The plaintiff claims he still provided sales in specialized areas such as to hearing impaired customers although the defendant took complete control over all of the business’s finances.

John Patrick alleges Bruce and Audio Visual Mart have refused to pay him a salary even though he was due $500 in deferred payment in Dec. 2012 for which he submitted a letter of request that was never answered. The plaintiff asserts  was informed he had been terminated from employment and removed as president of the business on June 7, 2012 and that the defendant took the presidency in his place. John Patrick alleges he was removed from the company via an “emergency vote” by the shareholders, but he was never alerted to the vote. In addition, the plaintiff alleges Bruce used $9,41.56 in company funds to purchase Keith’s one-third share and take over control of the business.

The defendant is accused of mismanaging the business, diverting business funds to personal use, failing to pursue lucrative corporate contract opportunities to the serious and lasting harm to the business, gross negligence and derogation of duty.

The plaintiff requests the court order the defendant to cease and desist from presenting himself falsely as president of Audio Visual Mart, to restore the sum used to purchase the additional one-third share in the business, restore the company's dividends and corporate assets that were allegedly illegally taken from it and pay the company the full amount for damages done to the business.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for the full amount of salary owed, penalties under state law, reimbursement for personal funds expended by the plaintiff on behalf of the business, an amount equal to one-third of the business’s worth and a dissolution of the business.

The plaintiff is represented by James A. Babst of New Orleans-based Wegmann & Babst LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division G Judge Robert A. Pitre Jr.

Case no. 725-425.

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