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A federal jury ruled today that race played a role in 2004 when College Park fired a white department head. The jury awarded Christopher Jones, the city’s former director of economic development, $75,000 each in punitive damages from Councilmen Charles E. Phillips Sr. and Tracey Wyatt, plus attorney’s fees. The award is less than a proposed $740,000 settlement. But the city’s legal fees could add $1 million or more to its tab.
(UPDATE: Jurors got the case Thursday and deliberated for three hours or so. They’ll resume at 9:30 a.m. Friday.)
More than a year ago, the city of College Park rejected settling a fired employee’s reverse-discrimination lawsuit for $740,000. Now the city is in federal court, where a jury’s pending decision will determine whether that was a good call. Christopher Jones, the city’s former director of economic development, sued in 2005 after a three-member majority of the City Council voted to let him go.