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Man sues city for allegedly backing out of deal, replacing him with white contractors

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A business owner is suing the city of Memphis for reportedly violating an agreement, and replacing his minority-owned business with two white businesses.

Marcus Belton owns Big Foot Tires and Trucking. He's filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that his agreement to provide labor for the city's fleet vehicles was cut short.

The city hired Belton in 2010 for a four-year commitment composed of a one-year contract with a three-year extension option.

The lawsuit alleges the city verbally agreed to the extension if Belton relocated to a larger facility.

He agreed, moving from his business on Watkins Street to Thomas Street.

The lawsuit claims the city contracted with Caucasian-majority firms to perform tire services in 2012.

In October of that year, the city told Belton that it was terminating his service and his contract.

WREG met with Belton and his attorney, Drayton Berkley, Tuesday.

Belton said the city didn't offer a clear reason for ending the agreement, as he had never received complaints.

Berkley said the city unlawfully backed out of the verbal agreement to extend the services.

The lawsuit cites the Equal Protection Clause, because Big Foot is an African American firm.

"In 2014, as a minority contractor, as a citizen of Memphis, where Dr. King was killed, I'm not only going to speak for me, I'm also speaking for other contractors. There's a problem in this city," Belton said.

Belton said he has sine relocated his shop again to downsize.

Without the city's business, he said he is going bankrupt.

He invested between $150,000 and $220,000 in equipment to handle the city's workload, and is asking for damages.



    • jc

      With all due respect… Municipalities are not procuring on hand shakes or verbally for that matter. This shouting of racism is so self-serving. This business owner needs to look-up the definition of “Competition”. This has more to do with it, and less to do with color of skin.

  • Disturbed

    If the city would do away with minority participation in contract then they would save 30-40%. They also require contractors to pay a “living wage”. ie (unskilled laborers must be paid over $15 per hour, skilled and above make more than $20). This kind if waste and negligence is why the city is in the shape that they are in. No way WREG will have a story on these problems…

  • PoorBubbaGump

    Us white folks gotta work too, we do pay the majority of the taxes that fund the bottom feeders everywhere. Thinking he should get the contract just because he is black is just like whites not allowing blacks any contracts because they are black. Open a window, dumb dumb.

  • blahblah

    Minorty also reeps the benifit of free healthcare..and free money many white 25 year old white people do u see getting a “check” there are 5 times the amount of white amercians yet they recieve roughly 15% of benifits however black amercians at 14%population recieve 10% of the benifits and still fussing …yea ur great great great great great great grandfather was forced to work..however he still did so with more pride than any black man in this day..get over are here not in a third world country and treated EQual and yet make up 75% of the jailed population and continue to kill each other at ur own a complaint that they went with the white man (that pays the taxes for your free food btw) get the f*** over it already..guess jesse jackson will be back to take up “fo yo blk mans” “cus dis bes wrng”

  • mz

    I’m black…n not on welfare…1 kid n college…don’t put all blacks in the same boat…I don’t put all what’s in trailer parks….smh…I hope he sues their pants off….a deal is a deal…pay up…or shut up!! Sue boo!!

    • blahblah

      U may be the minorty of your urself should be mad at the other 99% of the black race in memphis..have you watched the news ???
      Bs daily..what happens when they rob or beat ur college student..or when all of his/her earings once imployed..are taken to support the black lady with 6 kids by 6 different men and then ur grandkids support there a point the money will be gone!!!!
      Then what???

    • Gary

      Well I gotta agree it is wrong to put all blacks in the same category , I live in a mostly black town and I did not run when the blacks moved in . I have some of the best neighbors I have ever had in my life ,they all work and send their kids to school and keep them away from gangs. however just across the tracks it is a different story houses broken into every day ,shootings ,it is a mess but I got lucky and I have respect for my law abiding neighbors.

  • blahblah

    Please explain how this is not a race issue when he is suing for choosing a different race??????
    Or u could just move on considering thats a really dumb comment!!!
    Good day!!

  • Ron

    You can’t play the race card twice in one year. Every black knows that. You played the race card to get the job. You can’t play it again for losing the job…lol

  • blahblah

    Also may i add.. most black men between the ages of 50-65 still work to this day and dont try for asisnt however 18-50 year old(grown a** men) apply for a goverment check of some sort….WHY IS THAT???
    They havr way more pride this isnt about race…its about morrals…(get chu sum fools)

  • LilBitt Robinson Cox

    Blah Blah get a dictionary and grow up…I work in this City. There are so many ppl like you’….you know the ones that speak without a clue. If you must know I have more White clients applying for aid and goverment assistance than African American. They come in my office dirty, smelly, hungry and in need of info on where to buy trailer patches. So remember that the next time you put your mouth on my ethnic background…..Fool are born daily…Hope you don’t have kids to poison with your lack of knowledge

  • Ronny Jant

    The complaints listed for this company on the BBB (5 in 3 years) and the F rating don’t bode well for Mr. Belton. Sounds to me like the company just wasn’t cutting it. Black, white, hispanic…I don’t care what color you are – if you’ve got a failing rating with the BBB, then there’s something wrong, and it’s not the color of your skin. Just my opinion of course – but if he had a B or A rating, then I might tend to be a bit more on his side in this.

    • aimlessdaze

      Er…… yeah. That says a LOT. An F rating is really bad… I’ve dealt with some companies that were dubious, and yet they didn’t even have that bad a rating! I am also wondering how they hired TWO white owned companies to replace his ONE black owned company.

  • Terrie

    Um, Didn’t the guy in charge of this just get fired for stealing!?!?! A black man, may I add.
    Verbal is not binding. Especially when the brother man he got the deal with gets fired. He should be glad brother man is gone.
    I can’t follow Blah Blah. sarcasm or stupidity?

  • MOM

    Well, my heart goes out to anyone facing bankruptcy regardless of reason. However, what I read, above, said “verbal” contract (which sounds not-so-intelligent to me)….and he lost me when he had to add “as a citizen of Memphis, where Dr. King was killed”. How about citizen of Memphis, home of the Blues; citizen of Memphis, home of St. Jude research hospital? I could go on, but – yeah – race card.

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