Trials & Litigation

Jury Awards Zip in $3M Case Brought By Ex-NBA Star and Attorney Asked to Give Up Seats at Bar


A former basketball star and an attorney, both black, sought $3 million in damages over allegedly discriminatory practices at a popular Atlanta tavern, contending that they were forced to give up their seats for white women for an improper purpose.

But a federal jury in Atlanta wasn’t convinced, deliberating only 15 minutes before finding in favor of the Tavern at Phipps today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Former NBA All-Star Joe Barry Carroll, who is now an investment adviser, and attorney Joseph Shaw said a purported Southern hospitality policy, under which men were routinely asked to give up their seats for women in exchange for a round of free drinks, was actually a ploy for discouraging minority customers from patronizing the establishment. The two were targeted to give up their seats, for example, rather than other white male customers, and this was common practice, they contended.

An attorney for the tavern argued otherwise: “This incident didn’t happen because they were black,” Ernest Greer told the jury. “This incident happened because Mr. Carroll and Mr. Shaw wanted to be treated better than anyone else.”

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Suit: Ex-NBA All-Star Asked to Give Up Seat for White Women”

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Weighs Why Restaurant Asked Lawyer, Ex-NBA Star to Give Up Seats; Defense Cites ‘Gentility’”

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