Atlanta (WAOK)- A federal jury decided in less than 15 minutes of deliberation Friday that a Buckhead tavern did not violate the civil rights of Joe Barry Carroll and an Atlanta attorney when they were ejected from the restaurant for refusing to relinquish
their seats to a couple of white women because they were black.
The plaintiffs attorney Jeffrey Bramlett had been seeking at least $3 million in damages for the humiliation and embarrassment he claims his clients suffered when a security guard escorted them from the Tavern at Phipps in August 2006. Defense lawyer Ernest Greer said the establishment was following a longstanding policy rooted in Southern hospitality, in which men routinely give up their bar seats for women when the bar becomes crowded.
“This incident didn’t happen because they were black,” Greer said. “This incident happened because Mr. Carroll and Mr. Shaw wanted to be treated better than anyone else that evening.” Carroll and Shaw however, argued the tavern used the policy to harass black patrons to keep the bar and its patio predominantly white.
Greg Greenbaum, CEO of the Tavern Corp., contended the policy was strictly to gain favor with female patrons, who would attract more men and keep the bar tabs high. Carroll said after the verdict he was disappointed in the outcome and that he still
believed race was at the root of his treatment at the bar five years ago.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome, but I had to go through the process,” Carroll said, “Their behavior was outrageous…..and they know that.”