ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) — A federal jury in Aberdeen has decided that race played a part in the majority-black Greenwood Leflore Hospital board firing its white former attorney.
In its Thursday verdict, the jury awarded $82,000 to George Dulin.
The jury of six whites and two blacks found that the board wouldn't have made the same decision if it had not considered his race, The Greenwood Commonwealth reported (http://bit.ly/HIw7y4).
Dulin, 86, alleged the hospital board fired him in 2006 after more than 20 years as its attorney because of his race. It later hired a black attorney, W.M. Sanders, to replace him.
The hospital board said that the decision was related to Dulin's job performance, including allegedly nodding off during meetings and providing bad legal advice.
Three black politicians — Leflore County Supervisor Robert Moore, state Rep. Willie Perkins and state senator and Greenwood City Councilman David Jordan — had advocated for Dulin to be removed and replaced with a black attorney during a Greenwood Voters League meeting a year before Dulin was fired.
The hospital is jointly owned by the city and county, and the City Council and Board of Supervisors appoint the hospital board.
Rachel Pierce of Tupelo, one of Dulin's attorneys, said the jury also said Dulin should be paid attorneys fees and court costs. She said juries don't have the authority to order those costs to be paid but said she would file a motion asking the judge to do so.
"It says great things about race relations in Mississippi that a mixed-race jury could give this verdict in a reverse discrimination case," Pierce said.
The court costs and attorneys fees could be steep because the case involves two trials and an appeal.
Judge Sharion Aycock dismissed his lawsuit halfway through a first trial in 2010, but Dulin appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The appeals court reversed Aycock's decision last year and ordered another trial.
Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.comTags: