Judge allows discrimination suit against coroner to proceed

Judge allows discrimination suit against coroner to proceed

JACKSON, MS (AP) - A federal judge says six black-owned funeral homes can proceed toward trial with their lawsuit alleging that a Mississippi Gulf Coast coroner discriminates in favor of white-owned competitors.

U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett on Friday ruled mostly for the plaintiffs, although he dismissed some of the claims against Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove.

Starrett writes that the plaintiffs produced enough evidence that Hargrove treated black-owned funeral homes differently from white-owned funeral homes for the case to proceed. Ten of their original 13 legal grounds for the lawsuit remain alive.

The plaintiffs say there's plenty of evidence to show that Hargrove discriminated against them when directing who would get county-controlled business.

Hargrove and a lawyer for Harrison County deny discrimination, although they say some decisions were made by a now-deceased pathologist.

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