LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada jury on Tuesday awarded $1.3 million in damages to comedian George Wallace for a leg injury he said he suffered while performing at a Las Vegas Strip resort in 2007.
The split decision in a civil negligence and personal injury lawsuit against the Bellagio Las Vegas hotel-casino came after two weeks of testimony and about 12 hours of deliberations.
The 61-year-old stand-up comic known to many as Jerry Seinfeld’s friend had sought at least $7.1 million, but he emerged from the courtroom Tuesday saying he was happy with the jury award and would be glad to work again at the Bellagio.
He said he was stunned, however, that Bellagio attorney Paul Haire showed the jury an image during closing arguments Friday that included Wallace’s photo alongside a caricature of what appeared to be a dark-skinned child.
At the time, Haire was deriding as wildly speculative a witness’s estimate that Wallace lost millions of dollars in lifetime earnings as a result of his injury.
Wallace told reporters he saw the cartoon image as a “black caricature with a pickaninny haircut.”
“I just thought it was the lowest thing in my career. I’m sorry that I heard it in a courtroom,” he said. “I’m not sure whether it affected the jury. But it hurt me.”
Haire didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to messages about Wallace’s complaint.
In a 6-2 decision, the eight-person jury found that Bellagio should pay $1.2 million to Wallace for lost income, $100,000 for pain and suffering, plus $8,500 for medical expenses.
The two sides had put the medical expenses figure at about $9,525.
Wallace testified that he’s permanently hobbled after tangling his leg in wiring onstage during a private performance for HSBC Card Services Inc.
Wallace’s attorney, Dominic Gentile, said he believed the jury “saw it was all the Bellagio’s fault, and they announced that.”
“I can’t say we’re thrilled by the amount of damages they found, but I think they did an honest job,” Gentile said.
Haire, who denied that the hotel and its employees were responsible for Wallace’s Achilles tendon injury, said it would be up to the Bellagio and its owners, MGM Resorts International, to decide whether to appeal.
“Obviously, we weren’t as convincing as we would like to have been. But we respect the jury’s verdict,” he said.
Company spokeswoman Mary Hynes said MGM was reviewing the verdict and its legal options.
Wallace also named HSBC as a defendant in the civil negligence lawsuit that was filed in 2009 in Clark County District Court.
Those two parties reached a confidential settlement just days before the jury was seated March 21. Neither side disclosed the terms.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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