The AP reports:

A federal jury on Friday found that an upscale Atlanta restaurant did not violate the civil rights of an ex-NBA All Star and a friend who claimed they were expelled from the bar because they were black.

A panel of nine white members and three black deliberated just 15 minutes before deciding that Joe Barry Carroll and Joseph Shaw were not subject to racial discrimination. Their attorney Jeffrey Bramlett had been seeking at least $3 million in damages for the humiliation and embarrassment he claims his clients suffered when a security guard escorted them from the Tavern at Phipps in August 2006 after they refused to give up their seats to two white women.

Defense lawyer Ernest Greer said the establishment was following a longstanding policy rooted in Southern hospitality, in which men routinely give up their bar seats for women when the bar becomes crowded. Over the past 20 years, thousands of men, from stars like Michael Jordan to several sitting at the bar that night, have complied with the “good manners” policy, Greer said.

It was Carroll and Shaw who injected race into the exchange, he said.

“This incident didn’t happen because they were black,” Greer said. “This incident happened because Mr. Carroll and Mr. Shaw wanted to be treated better than anyone else that evening.”