Director settles Universal race lawsuit
EmptyA black assistant director fired from the set of the Universal Pictures film "2 Fast 2 Furious" has settled his racial discrimination suit with the studio for an unspecified sum.
The court was notified of the settlement on behalf of Frank Davis Wednesday morning, just before director John Singleton was set to take the stand for a second day of testimony.
Despite the settlement, the trial continued because the lawsuit's main plaintiff, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, decided to pursue the case.
"We are a separate party and when we sue, we sue in the public interest," EEOC regional attorney Anna Park said. "We need to be satisfied in any resolution that the public interest is served."
Singleton completed his testimony Wednesday and was scheduled to be followed by Davis. Park acknowledged that the government's case might be more complicated since Davis has agreed to a settlement.
"Win or lose, the government is doing is job," Park said. "I want the message to be heard that the EEOC is there for people. The government can't be bought off."
Davis took the stand Wednesday and testified he thought he was fired because of race.
"Unfortunately, Universal has certain stereotypes about people that look like me. But I was doing my job," Davis said.
The EEOC sued Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co., four years ago claiming first assistant director Davis was fired without cause even after director Singleton, who also is black, objected.
The studio has denied the allegation, saying Davis could not handle his duties on a complicated, big-budget film that contained numerous action sequences and stunts.
The government's case may have been weakened after Singleton's testimony Tuesday.
The director had said in a prior deposition that he thought race may have played a role in Davis' dismissal.
However, the director testified Tuesday that he made an "executive decision" to let Davis go after several film crew members complained about him.
Singleton, whose upcoming film "Illegal Tender" is being distributed by Universal, was pressed by EEOC attorneys on what they called inconsistencies between Tuesday's testimony and his 2004 deposition.