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Jury Awards Fired Surgeon $525,000

ST. LOUIS (CN) - Washington University discriminated against a prominent lung surgeon because of his age, a St. Louis Court jury ruled. Dr. Joel Cooper, 70, who in 1983 led the team that performed the world's first successful lung transplant, was awarded $525,000 in damages - his attorneys sought $14 million.

Dr. Cooper claims the university forced him out after he turned 65 in favor of a younger surgeon.

Washington University claimed that Cooper's surgical division was not productive or profitable enough and suffered deficits. University lawyers claimed the school reduced Cooper's pay for those reasons but did not intend for him to leave.

The jury ruled that the university did not owe Cooper $800,000 for breach of contract. Dr. Timothy Eberlein, who was also named as a defendant, was not found guilty of any charges. Cooper is now the chief of thoracic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania.

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