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Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co

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Brief Fact Summary.

A white teacher sues a restaurant where she was denied service because she was with her Black students on two counts. She loses on one count for failing to prove it and loses the other on summary judgement.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

In a motion for summary judgement the moving party has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact.

 

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Our cases state that a State is responsible for the act of a private party when the State, by its law, has compelled the act.

View Full Point of Law
Facts.

Plaintiff Adickes, a white school teacher, was refused service at Defendant Kress in Hattiesburg, Mississippi because she was accompanied by her Black students. After leaving the restaurant Plaintiff Adickes was arrested for vagrancy. Plaintiff Adickes sued Defendant Kress alleging a violation of her equal protection rights (1) when she was refused service because she was in the company of Black people and that there was a custom in the community of segregation in restaurants and (2) that the refusal of service and arrest were the result of a conspiracy between Defendant Kress and the Hattiesburg police. At trial the court found that Plaintiff Adickes did not prove her first point because she did not show that other white people were refused service because they were accompanied by Black people. Her second claim about conspiracy was dismissed on summary judgement before trial. The court of appeals affirmed both counts. Adickes appealed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

 

Issue.

Does the moving party in a motion for summary judgement have the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact?

 

Held.

Yes, the moving party in a motion for summary judgement has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Holding below is reversed and remanded.

Discussion.

1. FRCP 56 states that a court shall grant summary judgement if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgement as a matter of law.
2. In a motion for summary judgement the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
3. If the movant does not meet the burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue the motion will be denied, even if the non-movant does not present any opposing evidence.
4. Here, it was inappropriate for the court to grant Defendant Kress’s motion for summary judgement on Plaintiff Adickes’s second count of conspiracy.
5. Defendant Kress did not meet its burden of proving there was no conspiracy between Kress and the Hattiesburg police. Kress would have to have shown that there was no police officer in the store at the time of the event and that the police officer did not reach an understanding with Kress workers that Plaintiff Adickes not be served.
6. Because Kress did not prove this the summary judgement is reversed and the holding below is reversed and remanded.

 


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