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PPS Seeks Undo Of $1 Million Jury Award In Discrimination Case

Lawyers Diane Sykes (left) and Ashlee Albies (right) with clients Charles Morgan and Jason Williams.

Lawyers Diane Sykes (left) and Ashlee Albies (right) with clients Charles Morgan and Jason Williams.

Beth Slovic/The Portland Tribune

Portland Public Schools really doesn’t want to pay $1 million in damages to two black maintenance workers who successfully sued the school district for racial discrimination in May.

Days after a Multnomah County jury awarded the PPS employees $500,000 each, attorneys for PPS argued that the court’s instructions to the jury were confusing and that the jurors intended to award only $250,000 to each worker. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Henry Kantor disagreed and ordered PPS to pay $1 million.

Now, having failed to cut the award in half, attorneys for PPS from the Miller Nash Graham and Dunn firm are asking Kantor to set aside the award entirely—or grant a new trial. They’re alleging that there was insufficient evidence to justify the $1 million award, that the judge made legal errors and that the lawyers for the workers engaged in “misconduct” to such an extent that “the trial was irredeemably prejudicial to PPS.”

Attorneys for PPS laid out their argument in a 34-page motion called, in legal terms, a “judgment notwithstanding verdict.” A hearing on the motion is set for July 17. Attorneys for the two workers had not responded to the motion as of press time.

Read more at the Portland Tribune.

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