Wyatt v. Security Inn Food & Beverage, Inc.

Decision Date20 May 1987
Docket NumberNo. 86-1578,86-1578
Citation819 F.2d 69
Parties23 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 94 Warren E. WYATT; Jerome Robinson; Kirk Quentin Garner, Plaintiff-Appellees, v. SECURITY INN FOOD & BEVERAGE, INC., a Maryland Corporation, Defendant-Appellant, and Creative Inns, Inc., a Virginia Corporation; Ramada Inn, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, Defendant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

Warren Malcolm Davison (John W. Kyle, Littler, Mendelson, Fastiff & Ticy, Baltimore, Md., on brief), for defendant-appellant.

W. Michel Pierson (Eugene A. Shapiro, Pamela Randi Johnson, Baltimore, Md., on brief), for plaintiffs-appellees.

Before WINTER, Chief Judge, PHILLIPS, Circuit Judge, and MERHIGE, Senior United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

JAMES DICKSON PHILLIPS, Circuit Judge:

Appellant Security Inn Food & Beverage, Inc. (Security Inn) here challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on which a civil jury awarded substantial damages to Warren E. Wyatt, Jerome Robinson and Kirk Quentin Garner, the appellees, on a claim for violation of their civil rights. Security Inn also attacks certain evidentiary rulings made by the trial judge prior to and during the five-day trial. We find that Security Inn's assignments of error lack merit and affirm the judgment.

I

Appellees Warren E. Wyatt, Jerome Robinson and Kirk Quentin Garner filed this civil rights action in United States District Court for the District of Maryland alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1981, 1985, 1986 and 2000a et seq. Each plaintiff alleged that he, a black person, was the victim of illegal discrimination while patronizing the Adams Lounge in the Ramada Inn in Baltimore County, Maryland. Security Inn operates the Adams Lounge and Creative Inns, Inc., a second defendant, supplies the lounge with management services.

The plaintiffs' charges stemmed from virtually identical incidents. Lounge employees approached each plaintiff to inform him that the lounge had a policy of ejecting patrons who were not drinking. Each of the plaintiffs protested but was nevertheless ejected. Each of the plaintiffs testified that when he was ejected he observed white patrons who were not drinking yet were allowed to remain. Each plaintiff alleged that the lounge's "drinks only" policy was discriminatorily applied to reduce the percentage of black patrons.

Following a five-day trial, the jury awarded each plaintiff $1.00 in compensatory damages and $15,000 in punitive damages against Security Inn. Security Inn appeals the final judgment in that amount.

II

Security Inn first argues that the trial judge erroneously refused to grant a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in Security Inn's favor because there was no "substantial evidence that plaintiffs were the objects of racial discrimination." This argument is wholly without merit. The plaintiffs in fact offered at least five kinds of "substantial evidence" to support their claim either directly or circumstantially. First, they offered their own testimony regarding their ejection from the lounge. Second, they offered the testimony of a frequent lounge patron who testified that blacks were subjected to stricter requirements for admission and that only blacks were ejected for not drinking or other infractions of lounge "policy." This witness also testified that the lounge manager told her in 1984 that blacks were not wanted in the club. Third, they offered the testimony of past lounge employees who reported that various lounge practices (such as the music that was played and the food that was served) were explicitly designed to discourage black patronage. One of these employees, a former cocktail waitress, testified that employees manipulated the "drinks only" policy to exclude only blacks. Fourth, they offered depositions taken in prior discrimination suits in which the defendants admitted instituting policies to restrict the number of black patrons at least as of 1983. Fi...

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  • Callwood v. Dave & Buster's, Inc., No. CIV. AMD 98-1441.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • June 7, 2000
    ...Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir.1987). Defendant seems to contend that the Fourth Circuit's decision in Wyatt v. Security Inn Food & Beverage, 819 F.2d 69 (4th Cir.1987), imposes in section 1981 and Title II cases a greater burden of production on nonmovant-plaintiffs — a showing of "subs......
  • Patterson v. Lean Credit Union
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    ...courts have found a broad variety of claims of contractual discrimination cognizable under § 1981. E.g., Wyatt v. Security Inn Food & Beverage, Inc., 819 F.2d 69 (CA4 1987) (discriminatory application of hotel bar's policy of ejecting persons who do not order drinks); Hall v. Bio-Medical Ap......
  • American Soc. of Composers, Authors and Publishers v. Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc.
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    ...and potential prejudice of the evidence in light of the particular circumstances of the case. See e.g., Wyatt v. Security Inn Food & Beverage, Inc., 819 F.2d 69, 71 (4th Cir.1987); Kennon v. Slipstreamer, Inc. supra, 794 F.2d at 1076 (Thornberry, J., dissenting) (suggesting applicability of......
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    ...v. Cameron Sav. & Loan, F.A., 160 F.3d 1187, 1190 (8th Cir.1998) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 408). See also Wyatt v. Sec. Inn Food & Beverage Inc., 819 F.2d 69, 71 (4th Cir.1987) (The court held that Rule 408 "need not prevent a litigant from offering evidence [from compromise negotiations] when h......
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