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Judge overturns $3.17M verdict for contractor

Danville U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser has ordered a new trial for a Martinsville contractor’s claims of racial discrimination, based in part on post-trial evidence that undermined testimony about the company’s damages. The decision undoes a jury’s $3.17-million award against the Danville housing authority in February.

At trial, the owner of the plaintiff grading contractor testified his company was barred from future highway projects because it could no longer get a performance bond. After trial, however, the defendants offered a statement from a highway engineer who said the contractor remains in good standing and can bid without a bond requirement.

Kiser says he is satisfied the business owners gave false evidence about the company’s ability to do future highway work. The damages testimony caught the defendants by surprise and likely influenced the jury, Kiser found.

Kiser denied the defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law, finding sufficient evidence to support most of the plaintiff’s claims.

By Peter Vieth

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