JGL attorneys win nearly $260,000 in damages for their client who faced ethnic discrimination

in Civil Litigation, Civil Rights, Appellate August 3rd, 2020

On May 18, 2018 JGL attorneys Levi Zaslow, Maritza Carmona and Tim Maloney won nearly $260,000 in damages for their client, Mamoun Ashkar, who faced ethnic discrimination within his community of Riverdale Park in Prince George’s County. The Washington Post, Daily Record, WTOP, and WJLA, among others, have published articles about this case as it has meaningful impact on not just the Prince George’s County town but also for broader communities.

 

Mr. Ashkar, a Palestinian-American, became the owner of Greg’s Towing in January of 2015. Greg's Towing is the only tow company in the Town of Riverdale Park in Prince George’s County and, for 30 years, it was the exclusive tow service provider for the town and its police department. Once Mr. Ashkar took over Greg's Towing, he contacted Town representatives, including the police dept., to continue the company's long standing relationship with the Town.  However, he was denied any business by the Town and town representatives repeatedly made discriminatory statements and used derogatory language about Mr. Ashkar and his business.

Mr. Ashkar “was horrified and shocked that this is happening right here in our own backyard in the 21st century,” Levi S. Zaslow said.  “My parents moved here because it’s supposed to be the land of the free,” Mr. Ashkar said. “It’s made up of a lot of people. We all live together and this is what makes this country up, people from all over . . . It’s a very normal life and I don’t know why they would think otherwise.” 

“Local government cannot discriminate against its citizens and this case is about fairness, justice and equality and this verdict speaks to that,” Mr. Zaslow said.

After the trial court initially set aside the jury’s verdict, Maryland’s appellate court disagreed with the trial court and concluded the jury acted reasonably.  On Thursday, July 30, 2020 the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reinstated the jury’s verdict.  The appellate court observed:

Based on the admitted evidence discussed above, it appears to us that Ashkar established a prima facie case of discrimination that was submitted properly to the jury. Ashkar is a member of a protected class as a Palestinian-American. Ashkar, as Greg’s Towing, was qualified objectively to be the Town’s tow contractor—he had a tow lot in town; he was the owner of the business that had been the exclusive tow provider for Riverdale for 30 years prior to his obtaining ownership of Greg’s Towing; and, Ashkar had been selected to provide towing for other towns and organizations. He was rejected by Riverdale when it contracted with AlleyCat. This decision was made despite Riverdale being aware of Ashkar’s objective qualifications and credentials

The appellate court concluded that the “jury could come to the reasonable conclusion that” the town’s reasons for refusing to associate with Greg’s Towing “was no more than a pretext for denying Ashkar the contract based on race.”

Joseph, Greenwald and Laake, P.A. is proud to continue its longstanding tradition of providing a voice to victims of discrimination, such as Mr. Ashkar

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