Settlement announced in coroner discrimination lawsuit

A settlement has been reached in a racial discrimination lawsuit against a Mississippi Gulf Coast county and its coroner.

David Owens, a lawyer representing six black-owned funeral homes, says Harrison County and its coroner will agree to a written policy to give all the county's funeral homes an equal chance at county-controlled business and pay $110,000 in damages.

The settlement was announced Friday during a trial that began Monday.

The trial centered on allegations that Coroner Gary Hargrove steered county business to two white-owned funeral homes to the detriment of the black-owned funeral homes.

Hargrove maintains he was "colorblind" in his duties.

Owens has said more than 80 percent of county payments between 2012 and 2016 went to one white-owned funeral home. The second white-owned company got most remaining money.