Harrison County

Black-owned funeral homes, Harrison County coroner reach resolution out of court

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove, left, leaves the federal courthouse in Gulfport on Monday, April 16, 2018, with attorney Joe Sam Owen, who is defending him against charges that he discriminates by giving white-owned funeral homes most of the county's business. Hargrove and the county maintain he selects funeral homes in few cases and is fair when he does.
Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove, left, leaves the federal courthouse in Gulfport on Monday, April 16, 2018, with attorney Joe Sam Owen, who is defending him against charges that he discriminates by giving white-owned funeral homes most of the county's business. Hargrove and the county maintain he selects funeral homes in few cases and is fair when he does. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Less than a week after federal civil trial began between Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove and six black-owned funeral homes, it has ended.

A joint release Friday said there will be no verdict as the two sides in the racial discrimination case have reached a resolution, "rather than continuing with a contentious and expensive trial in the interest of bringing our community together."

Hargrove was not found to show racial discrimination.

"Disputes about what happened in the past remain on both sides," the release said. "However, the Plaintiffs and Gary Hargrove have reached a resolution that they believe is in their best interests and the best interests of all funeral homes in the county."

Details of the resolution were not specified in the release.

The two sides "are looking forward and hope to work together in the future to resolve any issues that still exist or that arise in the future," according to the release.

The civil case was brought forth jointly by six black-owned funeral homes in Harrison County: Lockett-Williams Mortuary, Richmond-August Funeral Home, Hartwell's Christian Mortuary & Funeral Home, Marshall Funeral Home, Dickey Brothers Memorial Funeral Home and J.T. Hall Funeral Home.

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors was previously dismissed as a defendant.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2326, @patrickochs
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