The moving party in a summary judgment motion has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact, and for these purposes the material it lodges must be viewed in the light most favorable to the opposing party.
Petitioner, a white person accompanied by six young Negroes, brought an action against respondent restaurant under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 for an alleged violation of her Equal Protection rights under U.S. Const. amend. XIV. The suit arose out of respondent's refusal to serve lunch to petitioner and petitioner's arrest upon departure from the restaurant on a vagrancy charge. The lower court affirmed the directed verdict for respondent and held that petitioner could not prove she was refused service pursuant to a custom of the community, enforced by the state, to refuse service to whites in the company of Negroes. Neither could she prove a conspiracy between respondent and police, thus the lower court sustained respondent's motion for summary judgment.
Did the respondent have the burden of showing absence of any genuine issue of fact?
The court reversed and held that petitioner could make out a claim under § 1983 if she proved that respondent refused her service because of a state-enforced custom of segregating the races in public restaurants. The court held that respondent failed to carry its burden of showing the absence of any genuine issue of fact, especially in its failure to foreclose the possibility that there was a policeman in the restaurant who reached an understanding with respondent's employee that petitioner not be served.