A $10 million verdict awarded last year to three former Philadelphia police officers in a racial-bias case has been slashed to $900,000 by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin issued a memorandum July 15 that reduced the awards because the officers only pursued claims under the federal civil rights law known as Title VII, which caps awards at a statutory $300,000 per plaintiff.
The cap would have not applied if the officers had pursued their case under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, McLaughlin wrote.
The three white officers - William McKenna, his twin brother, Michael, and Raymond Carnation - said they suffered from retaliation in their precinct because they opposed discrimination and a hostile work environment against African American officers in the 25th Police District.
William McKenna said the retaliation began after he complained to a supervisor in 1997 that two black officers were being mistreated. He later complained that an officer made racist comments to a motorist.
Michael McKenna then sued the city in November 1998, contending he was orally abused and pushed by a fellow officer, which caused permanent injury and a long absence from work.
In March 1999, William McKenna and Carnation filed a separate suit that was later consolidated with Michael McKenna's. The McKennas were later discharged from the department and Carnation, who was given restricted duty, quit the force.
McLaughlin, who presided over the eight-day trial last year, threw out the officers' lawsuit in 2003, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reinstated it in 2006.
In an order she issued July 7, McLaughlin awarded Carnation $208,781 in back pay.