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Pharmacist Wins $9 Million Judgment

A pharmacist who was stripped of his duties after he spoke out against allegations of sex discrimination made against him was awarded $9 million by a Pierce County Superior Court jury.

Jack Wilson, the former head of the Western State Hospital pharmacy department, sued the hospital in 1992, contending he was removed from his job when he refused to give an unqualified female pharmacist more responsibilities.

“This trial was never about money,” Wilson said Thursday. “It was about caring for the mentally retarded and the mentally ill. And it was about … 15,000 Department of Social and Health Services employees, many who work under a cloud of fear and retaliation by managers.”

The state will appeal the case, assistant state attorney general Rene Tomisser said Thursday.

The female pharmacist, Katy Williams, had claimed she was forced to do more rote work than other male pharmacists. But Wilson told his supervisors he could not in good conscience give her the tasks she wanted, said his attorney, Ralph Seeley.

Although an investigation revealed Wilson hadn’t discriminated against Williams, he was stripped of his duties in 1990 and assigned to a desk in a rank basement corridor. Williams, who had no management experience, was given his job, Seeley said.

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.