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A San Francisco Superior Court jury Monday awarded more than $11 million to 21 plaintiffs in a discrimination class action against the nation’s largest baker. The plaintiffs, all African-Americans who had worked at the bakery for up to 30 years, alleged that racial discrimination led to denied promotions, wrongful termination and retaliation for filing suit. Attorney Angela Alioto, who represented 18 plaintiffs, hugged and kissed her clients, and a reporter, after the jury verdicts were read. She exclaimed, “Unreal! So cool! How sweet it is! How sweet it is! Do you know how wonderful they have to feel after 30 years?” In a written statement from Interstate Bakeries Corp., of Kansas City, Mo., the makers of Wonder Bread, HoHos and Twinkies, the company said it would appeal the verdicts. “We believe substantial legal errors were committed in the trial and fully expect to be exonerated in appeal,” the statement said. “We do not believe the decision supports the record of the company.” Nearing the end of a trial that began May 22 in Carroll v. Interstate Brands Corp., 995728, the 12-person jury was given the task of completing a complex three-page verdict form in deciding how much in compensatory damages to award each plaintiff, all of whom had different causes of action, but all of whom alleged they were discriminated against because of their race. Among other things, the plaintiffs said they were denied promotions in favor of white employees; that white employees were given better delivery routes, and that white managers hurled racial epithets at black employees. The jury was comprised of four women and eight men, including two African- Americans, two Asian-Americans, and one Hispanic. Early Monday, the jurors came back with incomplete verdicts, but Superior Court Judge Stuart Pollak sent them back for further deliberations. “It would be worth seeing if you would spend a little additional time — if it would be helpful,” Pollak said. The jury found all of the plaintiffs were discriminated against but in varying degrees. “We’re going to have change,” said 40-year-old Gerald Brown, who won the largest sum, with $805,000. His charges included that he was denied promotions and fired two years ago because he filed a separate discrimination suit. “We have younger kids that have to enter the work force and we want it to be fair,” he said. “It’s been a long battle. For this to be going on in San Francisco in the year 2000 is unbelievable.” Brown was one of 17 plaintiffs who will get punitive damages. The jury will consider more evidence Wednesday before deciding how much. The lead plaintiff in the suit, Theodis Carroll Jr., 34, was awarded $155,000 in compensatory damages but in his claim, the jury did not come back with a verdict for punitive damages. “Overall, I feel I won because I freed 21 black men from a plantation mentality,” Carroll said, but added that he may have not gotten punitive damages because, “When you are a leader in the African-American community, you are seen as a troublemaker.” In a backdrop to the case, Carroll’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, and Alioto have been in embroiled in a feud. Both attorneys have filed actions against each other, with Alioto alleging that McCoy stole three of her clients. But those clients have accused Alioto, known as a liberal, of being racially prejudiced. Because another of McCoy’s three clients, George Lassiter, did not receive punitive damages, Carroll hinted that it was maybe because Alioto was white and McCoy is black. McCoy, for his part, said he did not know why the jury did not award two of his clients punitive damages. But about the verdict awards, he said, “I was confident overall that the jury would come back and put an end to the institutional practices of Wonder Bread.”

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