DISTRICT SETTLES HUNTER LAWSUIT
FOR $1.75 MILLION
[Note: The following press release was jointly approved by the D.C. Office of the Corporation Counsel and attorneys for Margie Hunter.]
Thursday, August 10, 2000
Mayor Anthony A. Williams and District of Columbia Corporation Counsel Robert Rigsby announced today that the District of Columbia has settled the case Margie Hunter v. District of Columbia, et al., Civil Action No. 96-1338, for $1.75 million. In announcing the settlement, Mayor Williams said, "discrimination by officials or employees of any agency of the District of Columbia Government based on race, gender or sexual orientation, of the nature alleged in this case, will not be tolerated."
This case arose from the death of Tyra Hunter, a transgendered hairdresser, on August 7, 1995.
In February, 1996, Tyra Hunter's mother, Margie Hunter, filed suit in D.C. Superior Court against the District of Columbia, a city firefighter and a D.C. General Hospital physician. Mrs. Hunter alleged that the D.C. Fire Department personnel called to the scene of a car accident involving Tyra made derogatory comments about Tyra's personal appearance and withdrew emergency medical treatment. Mrs. Hunter also charged that Tyra died as a result of medical negligence while, or after being treated at D.C. General Hospital.
On December 11, 1998, after a five-week trial, the jury awarded Margie Hunter approximately $2.9 million in damages. The jury determined that D.C. Fire Department employees violated the D.C. Human Rights law, and that Tyra Hunter's death was caused by medical malpractice at D.C. General. Shortly thereafter, the District challenged the jury's verdict in a post-trial motion, which was still pending at the time of the settlement.
Given the size of the verdict and the amount of interest accruing on it, and the sizeable claims for attorneys' fees that were pending, the parties agreed that a resolution of the matter for approximately $1.75M was fair, and would bring closure to this matter for Ms. Hunter and the city. Mayor Williams used this occasion to reemphasize the District's zero tolerance policy for discriminatory acts by any of its employees, by joining with the D.C. Fire Department to name its diversity and sensitivity training program after the decedent, Tyra Hunter.