CHARLESTON - A Fayette County man is suing Little General Store Inc. after he claims he was refused service because of his race.

On May 1, 2012, Cornelius R. Lewis entered the defendant's store located near Beckley and was seeking to purchase refreshments and/or gas when he was asked to leave and refused service, according to a complaint filed Oct. 25 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Lewis claims an employee falsely stated that he had previous been barred from the premises because he "steals and sells drugs."

That same employee stated that she would call the police and have Lewis removed because she did not want "his kind" there, according to the suit, and that he was treated differently than other patrons because he was African-American.

Lewis claims he was discriminated against based on his race and in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

The defendant's conduct was willful, wanton and/or done with total disregard for the rights of the plaintiff, according to the suit.

Lewis is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Dwight J. Staples and Gail Henderson-Staples of Henderson, Henderson & Staples LC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-2014

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