Former Northpoint employee awarded $730,000

September 26, 2003

A former Northpoint Training Center employee was awarded $730,000 in damages by a Boyle Circuit Court jury Wednesday in her lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections.

Dorsey Furr, 50, of Danville, was granted the judgment in the suit filed in 1995. She charged staff at Northpoint retaliated against her after she filed sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints at the center.

According to Lisa Lamb, director of communications for the state Department of Corrections, Furr was an employee at NTC from 1988 to 1994 as a classification and treatment officer.

Lamb said the department is "displeased with the verdict, of course, and is examining its options regarding appeal. No decision about the appeals process has been made."


The Boyle jury awarded Furr $332,000 for emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment and anxiety suffered; and $398,000 for lost wages and benefits. Estill County Circuit Judge William Trude presided over the case after Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler recused himself because of personal acquaintance with the plaintiff and her family.

Furr said in her suit she was transferred four times in one year and placed in a dangerous situation with inmates after she complained to superiors she was denied a promotion because of her gender. She also alleged she suffered "retaliation" by her superiors after her original complaint, and that she was sexually harassed.

Furr's original retaliation lawsuit was thrown out on the grounds of sovereign immunity by Boyle Circuit Court after a jury trial in 1998 ruled she failed to prove the gender discrimination and sexual harassment charges.

The retaliation portion of the suit was reinstated by the Kentucky Court of Appeals in January 1999, saying the original trial court erred in granting summary judgment to the defendants on the basis of sovereign immunity of government bodies. Sovereign immunity grants governmental bodies immunity based on the premise that government is the people, and the people cannot sue themselves for damages.

The Court of Appeals decision was upheld by the Kentucky Supreme Court in August 2000, and the most recent trial began Sept. 9. The verdict was rendered Wednesday.

The jury found the plaintiff was "subjected to adverse treatment with respect to terms, conditions and privileges of her employment by an act or acts of the defendant, because the plaintiff engaged in protected activities."

The jury also found it "did not believe the defendants gave a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for its actions."

Furr was represented by attorneys Linda Sullivan and William C. Jacobs, both of Lexington. Department of Corrections in-house counselors Jennifer Hatcher and Brenn Combs represented the defendants.

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