A judge refused Tuesday to set aside a jury’s award of nearly $1 million to a black Montebello firefighter who said he was the victim of racial harassment and retaliation for filing a lawsuit over his treatment.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White said the unanimous jury verdict on July 1 in favor of plaintiff Vernon Creswell was supported by the evidence.
The jury awarded a total of $935,150 to Creswell. The award consisted of $185,150 in lost wages because he was not promoted to captain and another $750,000 for emotional distress.
The jury rejected his racial discrimination claim.
Creswell sued the city of Montebello in September 2013. He testified during his trial that he has experienced racism since joining the force, but didn’t realize the extent of it until he learned that a battalion chief referred to him by the “N” word in 2013.
Creswell said he had two meetings with Chief Dominic Hebert to discuss the alleged racism, but received little satisfaction. He said today he still feels a sense of resentment and coolness to him by some members of the MFD.
Creswell joined the MFD in October 2008 and for a while was the only black firefighter in the department. He previously worked for the Compton Fire Department.
—City News Service