Supreme Court Blocks Individual Civil Rights Suit Against Firm

February 23, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that Domino’s Pizza could not be sued for racial discrimination by a businessman whose company had a contract with the chain.

The court, in an 8-0 decision, said that because the contract was with John McDonald’s company, not McDonald personally, he could not bring an individual civil rights claim.

To rule otherwise, Justice Antonin Scalia said in the opinion, would open companies to unlimited lawsuits under an 1866 civil rights law that protects equal rights in contracting.

“Plaintiffs must identify injuries flowing from a racially motivated breach of their own contractual relationship, not of someone else’s,” Scalia wrote.

Domino’s had contracted with McDonald’s company to build four pizza franchises in the Las Vegas area. McDonald contends the company failed to honor the contracts because he is black.

Domino’s lawyers deny racial discrimination was involved and have said McDonald is to blame for problems.

Scalia said that McDonald was worried that “many discriminatory acts will go unpunished,” and that McDonald cited a hypothetical scenario in which he was beaten up by Domino’s officials. If that had happened, which it did not, he could pursue that under criminal law, Scalia said.

New Justice Samuel Alito did not participate in the ruling because he was not on the court when the cases were argued.

The case is Domino’s Pizza, Inc. v. John McDonald, 04-593.

Source: Supreme Court:

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