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R.I. JURY AWARDS $100,000 TO FAT EX-WORKER

A jury on Friday awarded $100,000 in damages to a 300-pound woman who accused Rhode Island of discrimination for failing to give her back her job at a state-run mental hospital.

Bonnie Cook, 32, had sought $60,000 in back pay and the next available job at the Joseph H. Ladd School in Exeter, where she had worked as an attendant between 1979 and 1986. She quit to look after her sick child, reapplied in 1988 and was turned down.After a weeklong trial, the jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding in favor of Cook. U.S. District Court Judge Ernest Torres still must rule on her request to get back her old job.

"I love the verdict," a jubilant Cook said.

Before the jury's decision, an attorney representing the state had compared the woman's circumstances to that of football star William "the Refrigerator" Perry, who was not allowed to play until he reduced his weight to 320 pounds.

The state argued that Cook's weight would hinder her ability to restrain or help patients.