Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co.

398 U.S. 144 (1970)


Adickes (P) was a New York school teacher who taught at the Mississippi Freedom School during the summer of 1964. P went to the lunchroom of Kress's (D) store accompanied by six African American students at the school. The store refused to serve her because she was a white person in the company of African Americans. She was arrested for vagrancy after she left the store. P sued under Section 1983 alleging that there was a conspiracy between D and the police to arrest her because she was in the company of African Americans. The District Court ruled that to recover under the conspiracy count, P would have to prove that, at the time she was refused service, there was a specific 'custom . . . of refusing service to whites in the company of Negroes,' and that this custom was 'enforced by the State' under Mississippi's criminal trespass statute. D moved for summary judgment in that P failed to allege any facts from which a conspiracy might be inferred. D produced affidavits from all the parties involved which denied any prearranged conspiracy. In response, P restated her complaint and offered an unsworn statement from an employee of D that the policeman had been in the store prior to the refusal of service. D was granted summary judgment on that count. P was unable to prove at the trial that there were other instances in Hattiesburg of a white person having been refused service while in the company of Negroes. The District Court directed a verdict in favor of D. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.