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Chavis settles NAACP suit

Ousted NAACP head Benjamin Chavis has accepted an out-of-court settlement of his wrongful firing suit, dropping most of his claims including a request for $300,000 in salary.

The civil rights group will pay only $7,400 to cover two mortgage payments on Chavis' $478,000 house and will extend his family's medical benefits and his life insurance through April. The total cash payout amounts to $12,300, a lawyer said.

Chavis will pay back $76,000 that the NAACP lent him for a down payment on the house. His unused vacation pay _ $17,308 _ will be used to offset that debt.

"The reason I agreed to it is I want to get on with my life without leaving any cliffhangers," said Chavis, 46. "To get a large financial settlement from the NAACP while they're in financial trouble, I just don't desire that."

The NAACP has laid off employees and put others on unpaid furloughs to try to erase a $3.8-million deficit.

Chavis, named executive director in April 1993, was fired halfway through a three-year contract that paid him $200,000 a year plus expenses and benefits. He sued the NAACP in August, asking for $300,000 in salary for the remainder of the contract.

"The fact of the matter is if I had not sued the NAACP I would not have gotten anything," Chavis said.

"There are some persons within the NAACP who still have a great degree of bitterness and vindictiveness, which is only going to prevent the organization from moving forward."

The settlement leaves hanging a sexual harassment lawsuit that helped lead to his firing. Chavis struck a deal worth up to $332,400 to settle the suit, filed by a former NAACP employee, without the knowledge of the group's board of directors.

The employee, Mary Stansel, has been paid $82,400 and claims the NAACP owes her an additional $250,000.