Missouri police officer agrees to mediation after $20M award

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CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) – A St. Louis County police officer has agreed to mediation to reach a settlement and avoid court appeals, weeks after a jury awarded him $20 million to resolve his lawsuit alleging he suffered discrimination because he is gay.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that both sides have incentives to settle. The county hopes to reduce its liability. Sgt. Keith Wildhaber could keep a larger percentage of the award if he settles.

Wildhaber’s lawsuit alleged that he had been passed over for a promotion 23 times and was told to “tone down your gayness.”

Missouri law requires defendants to give half of punitive damages awarded to the state’s Tort Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund. Punitive damages in Wildhaber’s case amounted to $17 million of the $20 million award.

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