Parents of a Glasgow teenager who killed himself in December 2016 signed a confidential settlement agreement last week for an undisclosed sum in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Dairy Queen corporation and a company referred to as “G.E. Inc.”
The defendants are referred to only as “A.D. Corporation” and “G.E. Inc.” Dairy Queen is owned by American Dairy Queen Corp. A source close to the litigation who asked not to be named confirmed that Dairy Queen is the defendant in the lawsuit.
The Fayette Dairy Queen where Kenny Suttner worked and was allegedly bullied by a manager is owned by Ryan Reid, who has a company named Gatoer Enterprises Inc., according to the Secretary of State’s business filings website.
Reid also owns Dairy Queen restaurants on Forum Boulevard and at the Columbia Mall with his wife, Michelle. Gatoer’s listed business address is the same as the Dairy Queen on Forum.
Suttner, 17, killed himself in December 2016, and an inquest called to investigate the cause and manner of his death found that bullying and harassment at school and work contributed to his death. The sole person charged criminally in connection with his death was Harley Branham, his manager at Dairy Queen.
The petition to settle doesn’t mention the Suttner family by name, but it names “M.S.” and “A.S.” as the petitioners, which are the initials of Suttner’s parents, Michael Suttner and Angela Suttner. Kenny Suttner is named in the petition as “K.S.” The petition also mentions Suttner’s date of death and place of death.
The petition is dated March 8 and was filed Monday, and a hearing was held Tuesday in the 19th Circuit Court in Cole County. The Suttners negotiated an agreement with “A.D. Corporation” and “G.E. Inc,” the petition states, and all parties agreed to the settlement. The settlement will be paid through Allied Insurance Company of America.
The settlement was deemed “better effectuated” under confidentiality, according to a related petition to proceed under pseudonyms. The petition states that all parties agreed to make the settlement confidential and use initials.
The Glasgow School District was found by the inquest jury to have followed its anti-bullying policies but negligent in bullying prevention. The inquest jury also found Dairy Queen negligent in training its employees about harassment.
The jury recommended that Branham, a manager at the Dairy Queen whom multiple co-workers testified harassed Suttner to the point of tears, be indicted for involuntary manslaughter.
Branham was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, a charge that was later dropped. She still faces a felony stalking charge, along with several misdemeanors.
Co-workers testified at the inquest hearing that Suttner was endlessly harassed and bullied by Branham. Patricia Ray, one of Suttner’s managers, told the jury that nothing changed after she tried to talk to owners Michelle and Ryan Reid about the harassment.
Ryan Reid told the jury he was unaware of any harassment by Branham. He said the company’s employee handbook had a section about harassment policies, but “corporate” didn’t provide policies about the subject.
Attempts to reach Ryan and Michelle Reid were unsuccessful.
Lawyers for both the Suttner family and Dairy Queen were unavailable for comment. The Suttner family could also not be reached for comment.
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