Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co.

500 U.S. 614 (1991).


Edmonson (P), a black construction worker, sought damages from Leesville (D) for a job-site accident resulting from the alleged negligence of one of D's employees. One of D’s trucks pinned P against construction equipment. P requested a jury trial. During voir dire, D used two of its three statutory peremptory challenges to strike blacks from the jury. P requested that D articulate a race-neutral explanation for the peremptory challenges. That request was denied in that Batson v. Kentucky did not apply to civil proceedings. The jury gave the verdict to P but also determined that 80% of the fault was due to P and reduced the actual award to $18,000. P appealed; it was unconstitutional for the trial court to have permitted race-based peremptory challenges on the part of D. The court of appeals held only criminal prosecutors, and not civil litigants, were barred from making race-based peremptory challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.