Lawyers Who Filed Racism Suits Against Dillard's Owe The Company $143K, Court Rules
Local attorneys Cletus Ernster III and Damon Chargois were in the forefront of lawyers suing the department store chain Dillard's on claims of racism, a story we wrote about back in 2004.
They said their black customers were unfairly targeted by store security, and treated roughly in any incidents. Some customers died at the hands of Dillard's security, which consisted of off-duty cops.
"Race is the motivating factor in the decision to search, stop and detain shoppers at Dillard's," said Houston attorney Cletus P. Ernster III, whose firm has filed more than 100 cases against the chain.
There some victories and some losses for all the lawsuits along the way, but one constant: Dillard's was very pissed that the two Houston lawyers used its logo on websites trumpeting their cases.
They filed and won a trademark-infringement suit; the law firm was ordered to pay $143,000. The firm broke up and the attorneys argued in court that they should not be personally liable for the amount, but the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled otherwise.
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. UCF Knights Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 29, 11:00am
Rice University Owls Football vs. Florida Atlantic University Owls Football
TicketsSat., Nov. 5, 2:30pm
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Tulane University Football
TicketsSat., Nov. 12, 11:00am
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Louisville Cardinals College Football
TicketsThu., Nov. 17, 7:00pm
The judgment itself is rooted in arcane laws about partnerships, and whether dissolving them gets rid of debts, and gobbledegook like that. In fact the two official parties in the suit are Dillard's and an insurance company, not the two lawyers.
But the fact stands that as of now, Chargois and Ernster are on the hook for six figures to the company they sued the crap out of, and that's not nice for them.
We've got calls in to both; we'll update if we hear back.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.