Former Washington Redskins star Larry Brown has been ordered by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury to pay $2 to a Wheaton restaurateur who filed a $6 million lawsuit after Brown broke his jaw in 1979.
Brown, a community relations executive for the Xerox Corp., was ordered to pay Harry Selby Scaggs Jr., an owner of the Anchor Inn, $1 in compensatory damages and $1 in punitive damages in the civil action.
Scaggs testified that he was leaving a Rockville tavern with his wife, Janet, and some friends in the early hours of May 17, 1979, when Brown, who had been about to drive away from the tavern, stopped his car, got out and punched Scaggs once in the face, shattering his right jaw.
But Brown told the jury he heard Scaggs call him a "nigger" and a "black mother------" as Brown was driving away from the tavern at 1 Century Plaza on Rockville Pike.
Brown, who testified he "felt humiliated as a black person" by the remarks, said he left his car to talk with Scaggs, but when Scaggs raised his hands with partially clinched fists, he struck him.
Two months after the incident, Brown, 34, of Potomac, pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of one count of assault and battery, was placed on probation for one year and sentenced to 80 hours of community service.
Brown fulfilled his community service by organizing a spaghetti dinner for some Boy Scouts and hiking with them.
According to testimony before Judge Rosalyn B. Bell, the Scaggses and another couple arrived at the nightclub following dinner and an afternoon of golf. Scaggs said that he had had several drinks, but was not drunk.
In the tavern, Scaggs said the group noticed a man who resembled Larry Brown, the football star, but that Brown denied who he was.
Later, outside the tavern, Scaggs said that he called to his wife--who still was attempting to find out if Brown was "the" Larry Brown--"Leave the guy alone, I don't care if he's Joe Black."
Scaggs testified he was referring to Joe Black, a baseball pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s. Janet Scaggs said she warned her husband that the reference to the Dodgers pitcher might be interpreted as a racial slur.
To attest to Scaggs' treatment of blacks, Scaggs' lawyer, David Manoogian, called Cleveland Derrington, a black cook who said he has worked in Scaggs' restaurant for 15 years. Derrington said that Scaggs treats employes "real nice."
Joseph Palmore, a witness called by Brown's lawyers, said that Scaggs was staggering on the night of the incident and had approached Brown at least three times in the tavern to request his autograph. Palmore said that he heard Scaggs utter a racial slur toward Brown outside the tavern.
James McDonald, another witness for Brown, testified that two years earlier, in 1977, he had been in a fight with Scaggs outside a tavern. On that occasion, McDonald testified, Scaggs insulted a black Montgomery County police officer.
Brown said he had come to the tavern hoping to "unwind" after a long day. He said that he denied being Larry Brown because he didn't want to be disturbed.
Defense attorney Manoogian told the jury he was certain that if racial slurs were spoken, it was not the first time that Brown had heard them.
Brown, a former financial consultant for the E. F. Hutton Co., testified that he had "never experienced language like that before."