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 nor could she prove a conspiracy between respondent and police.
Did the lower court commit error in granting summary judgment?
As the moving party, respondent had the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Respondent here did not carry its burden because of its failure to foreclose the possibility that there was a policeman in the Kress store while petitioner was awaiting service, and that this policeman reached an understanding with some Kress employee that petitioner not be served. 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.