National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Inc. v. Molly Darcy, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-162-12, 17 pp.) (R. Bryan Harwell, J.) 4:11-cv-01293; D.S.C.
Holding: Although the defendant-restaurant was closed to everyone – not just African Americans – during Black Bike Week, plaintiffs allege that the restaurant’s decision to temporarily close to the public was “undertaken with racially discriminatory animus for the purpose of denying African Americans access to a place of public accommodation.” Plaintiffs have stated a claim of intentional racial discrimination.
Defendant’s motion to dismiss is denied. Defendant’s motion to strike plaintiff’s expert witness’s report and trial testimony is granted in part.
Plaintiffs NAACP and its Conway branch only seek injunctive and declaratory relief under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a and S.C. Code Ann. § 45-9-30. Furthermore, one of their members attests that she attempted to dine at the defendant-restaurant during 2009’s Black Bike Week, that she discovered the restaurant was closed, and that she intends to dine at the restaurant during future Black Bike Weeks. Thus, plaintiffs NAACP and its Conway branch have associational standing to bring this lawsuit.
Additionally, all plaintiffs have standing to seek injunctive relief. Defendant’s argument that it can effectively strip this court of subject matter jurisdiction simply by altering its business practices is without merit. Plaintiffs have shown that their injury is more than speculative or hypothetical. They have standing to seek an injunction against the restaurant’s alleged discriminatory conduct.
Any statement by plaintiffs’ expert to the effect that he believed a particular reason given by defendant was not the primary motivation for closing or that he does not find a reason given by defendant plausible is not admissible. Such statements are not helpful to the jury and simply are an attempt to tell the jury what result to reach. The following opinions are areas of appropriate inquiry for plaintiffs’ expert: opinions regarding (1) the customary business practices regarding profitability and business levels of seasonal restaurants during the period of time the restaurant was closed and any related analysis of the restaurant’s sales or profits, (2) the customary time for doing renovations of seasonal restaurants, and (3) the customary method of informing the public of closure.
Motions granted in part, denied in part.