A federal jury awarded a Jackson developer $600,000 from the City of Jackson following a jury trial this afternoon.
U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola presided over the jury trial, which began Sept. 29 and concluded today.
In 2012, Don Hewitt of Advanced Technology Building Solutions filed a civil-rights lawsuit against the city, then-mayor Harvey Johnson, the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and JRA officials for what he characterized as violating "the natural right of a person to do business" by blocking his attempts to develop three real estate projects in Jackson—most notably the Deposit Guarantee Building, now known as the Regions Building.
Furthermore, Hewitt, who is black, claimed that Johnson blocked economic development projects to which he personally objected, which represented a violation of Hewitt's due process rights. Another part of his suit alleged that two white members of JRA "acted in conspiracy with racial animus" to deprive his company of opportunities.
Judge Guirola dismissed the claims against JRA and its officials—including former Commissioner Brian Fenelon and current Commissioners Beau Whittington and Bishop Ronnie Crudup and former executive director Jason Brookins—with prejudice.
Guirola ordered Hewitt to recover $600,000 plus costs and 1 percent interest. JRA and its officials must pay their own costs, the judge ruled.