By John Friend
In one of the more absurd court rulings in recent memory, a Portland jury awarded a whopping $1 million in damages to a 63-year-old black woman who alleged a white gas station attendant refused to serve her, purportedly telling her: “I don’t serve black people.”
Rose Wakefield, a Portland resident, pulled into Jacksons Food Store in Beaverton, Ore., a suburb of Portland, on March 12, 2020, to refuel her vehicle. Gas station attendants are required to pump fuel for customers in Oregon cities, including Portland and its suburbs.
Wakefield alleges that Nigel Powers, the white 23-year-old attendant on duty that day, ignored and refused to serve her, instead refueling the vehicles of other customers, many of whom arrived after Wakefield. According to the lawsuit, Wakefield verbally requested service, prompting Powers to allegedly reply, “I’ll get to you when I feel like it.”
Surveillance footage shown during trial shows Wakefield exiting her vehicle and entering the store to talk to a manager and another employee. After a brief conversation, they exited the store and walked back to Wakefield’s car, and the employees pumped gas into her vehicle.
The discriminatory comments alleged to have been made by Powers towards Wakefield were not captured on video or audio recordings and could not be independently verified.
After fueling her vehicle and leaving the gas station, Wakefield called Jacksons Food Store’s corporate office to complain about the incident, which Wakefield described as “humiliating.”
“I felt like a slave without chains,” Wakefield dramatically stated in an interview with local reporters following the announcement of the verdict. “The bottom line is I can’t take my skin off and lay it down on the couch. I’m going to be who I am.”
Powers received a written warning for the alleged misconduct, which reportedly violated the company’s “first in, first out” policy for gas customers. He was eventually fired roughly one month later for violating the company’s personal cellphone use policy.
That didn’t stop Wakefield from pursuing a lawsuit and a massive financial reward.
Jacksons attempted to settle the lawsuit for $12,000 in pre-trial negotiations, noting that the company has a “zero-tolerance policy for discrimination” and provides adequate training and supervision for all employees, according to Cory Jackson, the company’s president. The company ultimately decided to take the matter to court after reviewing the matter thoroughly and considering all the evidence.
“After carefully reviewing all facts and evidence, including video surveillance, we chose to take this matter to trial because we were comfortable with our knowledge that the service-related concern actually reported by the customer was investigated and promptly addressed,” Jackson explained. “As such, we respectfully disagree with the jury’s ruling because our knowledge does not align with the verdict.”
James Edwards, the nationally recognized host of The Political Cesspool radio program and one of America’s top political commentators, described the jury’s $1 million reward as “beyond satire, beyond belief, beyond hope!”
“Now that the perpetually aggrieved have proven themselves capable of bankrupting businesses based upon the flimsiest of claims, the only solution is a national divorce,” Edwards insisted.
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