BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A federal court jury has awarded $25 million in damages to a western New York steel plant employee who says his bosses failed to stop years of racial taunts and insults from his co-workers, behavior his lawyer likened to something out of the 1950s.
The jury on Tuesday found Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal and some of its former executives responsible for the treatment Elijah Turley endured while working at the company's now-closed Buffalo-area steel plant, according to the Buffalo News.
During the trial, Turley, who is black, testified that "KKK" and "King Kong" graffiti were written on the walls of the plant and a stuffed monkey with a noose around its neck was found hanging from his driver's side mirror.
"It's absolutely shocking that a case like this is in court in 2012," Turley's lawyer, Ryan J. Mills, told the jury. "It should be viewed as atrocious and intolerable in a civilized society."
Turley testified during the three-week trial that the harassment happened from 2005 to 2008 while he worked operating equipment that removes impurities from metals at the plant in Lackawanna. He said the experience changed his life and left him physically and emotionally damaged.
"This case is about the breakdown of a man," Mills said. "He wanted to be treated equally, treated equally in a culture that hadn't changed since the '50s."
ArcelorMittal lawyers acknowledged during the trial that Turley's description of the abuse was largely accurate, but argued it amounted to common "trash-talking" and executives took steps to stop it, including hiring a private investigator, installing security cameras and suspending employees involved.
"We are astonished by today's decision and consider the compensatory and punitive damages figure excessive," ArcelorMittal said in the statement after the verdict. "We are disappointed that the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff as we believe that the plaintiff's claims were unfounded."
The company indicated it might appeal.
Production at Lackawanna ended in 2009. ArcelorMittal continues to operate other plants in the U.S.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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