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Farrar v. McNesby

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 11, 2014

NONA FARRAR,
v.
JOHN T. McNESBY, PHILADELPHIA FOP LODGE #5, MAUREEN FAULKNER, DELTA AIRLINES, INC., DELTA AIRLINES DOE NO. 1, DELTA AIRLINES DOE NO. 2, U.S. AIRWAYS, INC., U.S. AIRWAYS, INC. DOE NO. 3, U.S. AIRWAYS, INC. DOE NO. 4, U.S. AIRWAYS, INC., DOE NO. 5, HILTON WORLDWIDE, INC., HILTON GARDEN INN DOE NO. 6, CHUCK CANTERBURY, DAVID GERSH, PAT MASENGILL, SEPHIRA SHUTTLESWORTH, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, HOLIDAY INN BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT, HOLIDAY INN BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT DOE NO. 7 AND ERIC H. HOLDER, and UNIDENTIFIED TSA AGENT DOE NO. 8

MEMORANDUM

NORMA L. SHAPIRO, District Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Nona Farrar ("Farrar") alleges that defendants Delta Air Lines, Inc., Delta Air Lines Doe # 1, and Delta Air Lines Doe # 2 (collectively, "Delta") participated in a far-reaching conspiracy to thwart her business activities and deprive her of her constitutional rights because of her race and her association with Mumia Abu-Jamal, the inmate convicted of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

Farrar asserts claims against the Delta defendants under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986. Delta filed a motion to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Farrar alleges that the Delta defendants violated her constitutional rights on a flight from Birmingham to New Jersey in the summer of 2011. Compl. ¶ 185. The complaint asserts three factual allegations against the Delta defendants.

First, Farrar alleges that a Delta employee was discussing Farrar's "housing situation" with a member of the ground crew to draw Farrar into a confrontation. Compl. ¶ 184. Farrar admits that she had never met the Delta employee, but alleges that other unidentified co-conspirators conveyed her private information to him. Id.

Second, Farrar alleges that a Delta flight attendant asked her and two other African American passengers to check their luggage because of a lack of overhead compartment space. Compl. ¶ 186. Although Farrar and the other passengers were eventually allowed to stow their luggage overhead, she alleges they were singled out because of their race. Id.

Third, Farrar alleges that the same flight attendant "repeatedly jabbed [her] in her upper arm" while saying "thank you" as Farrar exited the plane. Compl. ¶ 188. She characterizes the flight attendant's conduct as "a violent physical attack" aimed at starting a confrontation. Compl. ¶ 188.

Farrar asserts that Delta Air Lines, Inc. is vicariously liable for the conduct of its employees because they were acting within the scope of their employment. Compl. ¶¶ 195, 196.

II. DISCUSSION

For the reasons that follow, Farrar fails to state a claim against the Delta defendants under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1986.

Claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981

42 U.S.C. § 1981 provides that all persons "shall have the same right... to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws... as is enjoyed by white citizens." 42 U.S.C. § 1981. "[W]hile private discrimination may be implicated by the contract clause of section 1981, the concept of state action is implicit in the equal benefit clause." Mahone v. Waddle, 564 F.2d 1018, 1029 (3d Cir. 1977). "In order to state a claim under § 1981, a plaintiff must allege facts in support of the following elements: (1) [that plaintiff] is a member of a racial minority; (2) intent to discriminate on the basis of race by the defendant; and (3) discrimination concerning one or more of the activities enumerated in the statute...." Brown v. Philip Morris Inc., 250 F.3d 789, 797 (3d Cir. 2001).

Although Farrar is a member of a racial minority, she does not plausibly allege that the Delta defendants intended to discriminate against her because of her race. The three events she describes-the conversation about her "housing situation" (Compl. ¶ 184); the request to check her luggage (Compl. ¶ 186); and the "thank you" she received as she exited the plane (Compl. ¶ 188)-do not plausibly ...


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