United States Seventh Circuit

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Thompson v. Mem'l Hosp. of Carbondale, 07-2249

In an African-American paramedic's suit against his former employer and a county ambulance service, alleging racial discrimination in violation of Title VII and section 42 U.S.C. section 1981, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge claims, jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff on his Title VII and section 1981 claim and an award of $500,000 in damages is affirmed in part, vacated in part and remanded where: 1) plaintiff's cross appeal of the district court's grant of summary judgment against him on his claims of hostile work environment and constructive termination is rejected as the circumstances here did not rise to those levels; 2) because the employer knew before trial that whether the employer and plaintiff had a contractual relationship was a factual question but did not raise the issue at trial, district court's judgment on plaintiff's section 1981 claim is affirmed; 2) a jury could have drawn the inference that the emergency medical system coordinator had a singular influence on the probation decision, so the admission of her racial animus was not an abuse of discretion; 3) in light of the fact that the employer did not argue to the jury that plaintiff had failed to suffer materially adverse employment action, its request to set aside the verdict on this basis is denied; but 4) a remittitur of the $500,000 verdict to $250,000 is warranted as the award is excessive in light of the circumstances, including that plaintiff was placed on probation with no change to his compensation and the nature of his emotional distress, which although not to be discounted, does not warrant a half-million dollar award.

Appellate Information

  • Argued 09/15/2008
  • Decided 11/03/2010
  • Published 11/03/2010



  • United States Seventh Circuit