Harrison County

Harrison County will pay up as part of coroner lawsuit settlement

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove leaves the federal courthouse in Gulfport on Monday, April 16, 2018, with his attorneys Joe Sam Owen, left, and county attorney Tim Holleman after jury selection in his civil trial.
Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove leaves the federal courthouse in Gulfport on Monday, April 16, 2018, with his attorneys Joe Sam Owen, left, and county attorney Tim Holleman after jury selection in his civil trial. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

New details have been released in the settlement of the racial discrimination lawsuit involving Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove and six black-owned funeral homes.

County attorney Tim Holleman said Sunday a "cost of defense settlement" will have to be paid on behalf of Hargrove. The cost is $110,000, which will be paid by the county's insurance.

"That amount is less than the lawyers spent on the plaintiff, so they claimed," Holleman said.

Since the settlement will be paid out of the county's insurance, the matter will go before the Board of Supervisors for approval. The board was previously dismissed as a defendant.

"This happens in cases where the cost of proceeding is more than the cost of settling," Holleman said. "This is to ease the burden on the taxpayers."

The settlement was reached less than a week after the federal civil trial began. A joint release Friday said there was no verdict as the two sides in the case reached a resolution, "rather than continuing with a contentious and expensive trial in the interest of bringing our community together."

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.

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