A Nevada jury on Tuesday awarded $1.3 million in damages to comedian George Wallace for a leg injury he said he suffered while performing at a Las Vegas Strip resort in 2007.
The split decision in a civil negligence and personal injury lawsuit against the Bellagio Las Vegas hotel-casino came after two weeks of testimony and about 12 hours of deliberations.
The 61-year-old stand-up comic known to many as Jerry Seinfeld’s friend had sought at least $7.1 million, but he emerged from the courtroom Tuesday saying he was happy with the jury award and would be glad to work again at the Bellagio.
He said he was stunned, however, that Bellagio attorney Paul Haire showed the jury an image during closing arguments Friday that included Wallace’s photo alongside a caricature of what appeared to be a dark-skinned child.
At the time, Haire was deriding as wildly speculative a witness’s estimate that Wallace lost millions of dollars in lifetime earnings as a result of his injury.
Wallace told reporters he saw the cartoon image as a “black caricature with a pickaninny haircut.”
“I just thought it was the lowest thing in my career. I’m sorry that I heard it in a courtroom,” he said. “I’m not sure whether it affected the jury. But it hurt me.”