Plaintiff's lawyer won't say if settlement is reached
(Updates with defense dropping request for sanctions)
The discrimination lawsuit against Paula Deen and her brother has been "amicably resolved," the plaintiff's attorney told TheWrap.
"The matter has been amicably resolved," said attorney Matthew Billips, who has been representing former Deen employee Lisa T. Jackson in the suit. "I have said all I can say."
And with that came an anticlimactic end to a lawsuit that toppled Deen's cooking empire. Billips would not say if Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, the defendants in the case, agreed to pay any settlement.
Deen's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Billips submitted a proposed order to U.S. District Judge William T. Moore in Savannah, Ga., asking that the case be dismissed "with prejudice" and without "any award of costs or fees to any party."
It was unclear if the judge had signed the order, which would formally end the case. An employee in his office told TheWrap she did not know whether the order had been signed Friday, and no record of a signed order was found in online court records.
As part of the agreement, Deen and Hiers' attorneys withdrew a request for sanctions against Billips. They had claimed that he improperly pressured Deen to settle by using the news media and asking "irrelevant and purposely embarrassing questions" during depositions, and using "misogynistic, vulgar, and offensive statements."
Billips' client was an employee at a Savannah restaurant owned by Hiers and Deen. She claimed she was subjected to a workplace filled with racism, sexism, and threats of violence.
The racial claim was dismissed because a judge determined that Jackson, a white woman, didn't have standing to sue on those grounds. But by then Deen had given a devastating deposition in which she conceded that she used the N-word in the past — though not, she said, in a "mean" way.
Deen said she had used the word to refer to a bank robber who held her at gunpoint in the 1980s, and to repeat conversations between African-Americans. She said she had also once tried to plan a plantation-themed wedding for her brother.
Deen subsequently lost her relationship with the Food Network, and endorsement deals estimated to be worth millions. She also became a national joke, the target of countless late-night routines.
On Friday, TheWrap reported that NBC's "Law and Order: SVU" plans an episode in which a Deen-like character will kill a young black youth modeled on Trayvon Martin.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report
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