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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Bun B Embroiled In Legal Battle With Ex Trill Burgers Partners

Bun B (real name Bernard Freeman) has evolved into a successful restauranteur following the 2021 launch of Trill Burgers. But now, he’s being accused of stealing the recipe for the OG Trill Burger by former managers/partners Benson and Patsy Vivares. In response, the UGK legend has filed a lawsuit against the brother-sister duo for misappropriating funds. According to Click2Houston, the Vivares were also working their food truck business, Sticky’s Chicken, at the time Trill Burgers was just getting off the ground. That’s when they claim they came up with the OG Trill Burger recipe.

After working with Bun B for less than a year, Patsy and Benson allegedly used money to pay off Sticky’s Chicken. Bun B and fellow managers Andy Nguyen and Nick Scurfield sued the siblings, accusing them of stealing $45,000. The company sent a separation agreement and as of January, the defendants neither returned the misappropriated funds nor signed the separation agreement. Bun B is asking for access to past account information to determine how funds the Vivares’ funds were spent.

Patsy and Benson were initially in control of finances and funneled business income through the now-defunct restaurant Sticky’s Chicken. The various pop-up restaurants were held in 2021 and early 2022—including one at a local rodeo—but the duo’s financial transparency soon decreased. The lawsuit reportedly includes a text message from Patsy saying she used $45,000 of the rodeo money to settle Sticky’s Chicken bills.

“I used $45,000 of the rodeo money to pay for stickys,” the text message reads. “These bills were pressing & were threatening to shut us down.”

But in response to Bun B’s accusations, Patsy and Benson Vivares filed a general denial, insisting their actions were justified under the business judgment rule and the funds they allegedly used were reimbursable expenses for the benefit of the company. Then in January, they filed counterclaims against Bun B, Scurfield and Nguyen. The lawsuit alleges Bun B is attempting to deceive his partners and take control of Trill Burgers LLC. They claim they only recruited Bun B to be the face of the concept, but now Patsy and Benson say he’s trying to push them out of the business.

“Let it be known: Trill Burgers was not Bun B’s idea; nor was it the result of his sweat, equity, or ingenuity,” the countersuit reads. “Patsy and BJ (Benson) are the true heroes. This brother and sister duo—recognized contributors to HTX’s dynamic food scene—made Trill Burgers possible. They, along with Andy, developed the idea. They, along with Andy, recruited Bun B to be its face.

“And they alone—without the financial or operational help of Bun B or his eventual cohorts Andy and Nick—put Trill Burgers on the map. As accurately reported by PaperCity Magazine, ‘Bun B fell in love with the smash burger concept and decided to come on board the Trill Burgers team.’ It was not the other way around. Bun B was invited to the party; he did not start it.”

Attorney Charles Adams of Roebuck, Thomas & Adams PLLC, who’s representing Trill Burgers, sent the following to KPRC2:

“The claim that Mr. Freeman stole money was first made in the Vivares’ response to our lawsuit. It is analogous to an unfaithful partner who accuses their innocent spouse of cheating after being caught red handed. Bun B stole nothing. We do know that Patsy Vivares misappropriated Trill Burgers funds because she admitted in writing that she did it. We do not know how much more of Trill Burgers monies the Vivareses misappropriated because the Vivares never provided their former partners with requested documentation.

“While the Vivares’ conduct was reprehensible it pales in comparison to the conduct of her lawyers Mr. Aziz and Mr. Beard who employed a racist trope to paint an ugly false portrait of Houston icon Bun B. In their counter suit they alleged ‘Patsy and BJ were dumbfounded, hurt, angry, and scared given Bun B’s connections and the nature of the allegations.’ The attempt to portray Mr. Freeman as a gangster and a thug that the Vivares were afraid of is directly contradicted by Patsy Vivares’ own words in their text communications about the theft and dissolution of their partnership ‘I also want you to know that I knew and felt the respect you had for me and I was always proud of that, so I never wanted to ruin it bc I was humbled at the fact that of all the people in the world you could have worked on a food concept with, you chose us.”

Adams also obtained a message from Patsy to Nguyen in which she fully admitted to using the $45,000 in question. It reads in part: “Just want to be transparent with everything, but I used about 45k of the rodeo money to pay for Stickys. These are bills that were pressing & were threatening to shut us down…there is still about 140k left. I intend to pay back everyone’s that they put in ASAP.”

Adams also provided another text exchange between Bun B and Patsy in which he explains how “disappointed” he is by the Vivares’ alleged actions. He said, “If you hadn’t stolen any money, none of this would have happened.”

Bun B, Nguyen and Scurfield are seeking $250,000.

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