The owners of a Manassas roller-skating rink have agreed to pay a total of $1,500 to two Northern Virginia teen-agers to settle a lawsuit alleging racial bias against black and white youngsters who skated together.
The two teen-age girls, both of Fairfax County, and a Manassas teen-ager had charged in a complaint filed in July in U.S. District court in Alexandria that rink owner Gary L. Quintin displayed a mallet labeled "Gary's Little Nigger Beater" to intimidate blacks at the facility.
"It seemed to be the cheapest way out--settling a $3 million lawsuit for $1,500," Quintin's lawyer, Randolph H. Watts, said yesterday. The complaint, filed by attorney Victor M. Glasberg with support from the American Civil Liberties Union, had sought that amount in damages.
Quintin and his wife, operators of Roll-on-America at 8709 Mathis Ave., Manassas, agreed to the settlement Monday, an hour after the case went on trial in federal court in Alexandria.
The Quintins denied engaging in racially discriminatory practices at the rink, according to the written settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr, though Bryan ordered the couple to refrain "from any actions or policies of racial discrimination."
Quintin acknowledged during a pretrial hearing that he had owned a mallet, but testified that his wife had thrown it away and denied ever using the mallet to intimidate skaters.
The teen-age plaintiffs, Terri Harrington and Maria Perdichizzi, are white. Bryan granted a request by Glasberg that the third plaintiff, James M. Thomas, 19, who is black, be dropped from the case.
"That action indicated to us they didn't have much of a case," defense lawyer Watts said yesterday. Glasberg attributed the decision to "pure legal strategy."