Funeral homes release statement on settlement of Harrison County coroner case

Funeral homes release statement on settlement of Harrison County coroner case
Galloway pled guilty to one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine on Feb. 6, 2018. (Photo source: WLOX)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove will pay $110,000 after a settlement was reached in a lawsuit alleging discrimination. That's according to county attorney Tim Holleman.

Holleman told WLOX on Sunday that the terms of the settlement, which were reached Friday, also state that Hargrove will develop a written policy that shares business equally with all funeral homes located in the county when a family does not select a funeral home or is not available to choose.

The $110,000 in damages will be paid to plaintiffs through the county's insurance, said Holleman.

A statement was released by the six black-owned Harrison County funeral homes involved regarding the settlement on April 23. In the letter, it is expressed that although a settlement was reached, leadership within the homes will continue to point out any racial disparities in the future. They stated:

We presented powerful evidence of racial disparities, and intended to present more going
forward. The jury did not hear all of the evidence or reach a verdict one way or the other. Gary Hargrove was not, and has not been, exonerated in any way at all. However, we are focused on moving forward.

The lawsuit was brought in July 2016 by six African-American owned funeral homes in Harrison County, accusing Hargrove of discriminating against them for at least two decades by directing public business and public money to white-owned funeral homes. The lawsuit also claimed the Board of Supervisors ratified Hargrove's conduct and appropriated public money to fund his discrimination.

According to Holleman, Harrison County and the Board of Supervisors have been dismissed from the lawsuit and there were no findings of discrimination against Hargrove. To read the original lawsuit in full, click HERE.

Read the full statement from the funeral homes below.

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