Novikoff Receives Defense Verdict In Reverse Race Discrimination Trial

January 31, 2017 | Commercial Litigation | Employment & Labor

After a one week trial before the Honorable Leonard D. Wexler of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Ken Novikoff, representing the former Mayor of the Village of Freeport Andrew Hardwick, received a jury verdict in favor of Mayor Hardwick and the Village of Freeport in a reverse race discrimination trial in the action entitled Barrella v. Village of Freeport, et., al. (12-CV–0348).  Barrella, a white lieutenant in the Freeport Police Department, sued Mayor Hardwick and the Village, claiming that Mayor Hardwick, who is African American, appointed Miguel Bermudez, who is Hispanic/Latino, to be the Chief of Police for the Freeport Police Department in 2010 because of Mr. Bermudez’ race.  In the first trial in 2014, plaintiff prevailed, receiving a jury award of $1,350,000.  On appeal, the Second Circuit vacated the jury award based upon finding that the admission of certain evidence at trial was erroneous and prejudicial, thus requiring a new trial.  See, Village of Freeport v. Barrella, 814 F.3d 594 (2d Cir. 2016).  After listening to the testimony of ten witnesses over the course of 5 days, the jury in the second trial returned a verdict in favor of Mayor Hardwick and the Village, finding that Mayor Hardwick’s decision to appoint Mr. Bermudez to be the Chief of Police was not motivated by Mr. Bermudez’ race.

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