McMILLIAN, Circuit Judge.
Michael Adams, Floyd Jones, Wanda Jones, Derrick Harris, and Randy Harris (collectively "appellants"), each of whom is African-American, appeal from a final order entered in the United States District Court
Jurisdiction in the district court was proper based upon 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343. Jurisdiction on appeal is proper based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1291. The notices of appeal were timely filed pursuant to Fed. R.App. P. 4(a).
The Kiwanis Club of Memphis sponsored a one-week summer camp ("the camp") which began on Monday, July 20, 1997, and was held at the Kia Kima Scout
Michael Adams attended the camp as a volunteer overseer and observer for the Kiwanis Club of Memphis. Floyd Jones attended as a parent volunteer. Randy Harris and Derrick Harris, Floyd Jones's two stepsons, were campers. Wanda Jones did not attend the camp; she is the wife of Floyd Jones and the mother of Randy Harris and Derrick Harris.
Based upon events allegedly occurring at, and in connection with, the camp, appellants brought the present action in the district court against appellees and the Kiwanis Club of Memphis, T.J. "Sonny" Powell (as Sheriff of Sharp County), the Cherokee Village Securities Officers, and "John Doe(s)." The "John Doe(s)" were described as "employees and/or agents of the Boy Scouts of America who were camp directors and administrators as well as teen counselors at Camp Kia Kima Reservation and deputy sheriffs of Sharp County, Arkansas." Appellants' Appendix at 18 (complaint ¶ VII).
The complaint generally alleged that appellants and many other campers were subjected to racism and other forms of mistreatment at the camp and that the campers were inadequately supervised. See id. at 19-21 (¶¶ IX-XIV). In addition to asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985(3), 1986, and 2000a, the complaint also purported to assert claims under state common law and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, which are not at issue in the present appeal.
In particular, the complaint alleged the following. During the operation of the camp, male Caucasian camp counselors forced campers to eat charred wood under threat that their breakfast would be withheld, forced campers to drink lake water, left campers in the woods unsupervised, and placed ammonium carbonate under campers' noses while they slept. Id. (¶ IX). Male camp counselors subjected female campers to "lurid comments and conduct" and made female campers shower in the boys' shower area while boys were present in the area, then beat on the shower wall forcing the female campers to run out of the showers half-dressed. Id. (¶ X). On or about July 23, 1997, Adams "reported several incidents to camp administrators" and was told that his claims were not true. Id. (¶ XI).
The complaint further alleged that, when the van reached Ashflat, Arkansas, it was met by a sheriff's patrol car and escorted to the sheriff's department in Ashflat.
The complaint additionally alleged that a sign bearing the letters "KKK" hung on the wall in the camp office, even though the name of the reservation was "Kia Kima Scout Reservation."
Appellants sought $5,000,000.00 in compensatory damages, $10,000,000.00 in punitive damages, injunctive relief, declaratory judgment, attorney's fees, and expenses. Id. at 25-26 (prayer for relief).
Appellees moved for summary judgment, and the district court granted their motion on January 5, 2000. The district court determined that the following facts were not in genuine dispute. The alleged mistreatment and neglect of the campers did not directly affect any of the named plaintiffs (i.e., appellants), and most of the alleged problems at the camp equally affected Caucasian and African-American campers. See slip op. at 2 (citing Adams's deposition at 83-84, 108-09).
In analyzing the legal issues raised by appellees' motion for summary judgment, the district court first determined that, even if a genuine issue of fact existed as to whether race was a motivating factor in the Boy Scouts Chickasaw Council's decision to ask Adams to leave the camp, that issue of fact was nevertheless not outcome determinative. See id. at 6. In other words, the district court held that there were other legal shortcomings regarding essential aspects of appellants' claims which warranted judgment for appellees as a matter of law.
As to appellants' claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985(3) and 1986, the district court noted that there was no evidence of a race-based conspiracy — that is, a conspiracy to deprive appellants of their equal protection rights — an essential element of each of the § 1985(3) and § 1986 claims.
As to appellants' claims under the equal benefits clause of 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Finally, as to appellants' claim under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a (prohibiting discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation), the district court held that, even assuming for the sake of argument that the camp was a place of public accommodation, appellants had not made the necessary showing of disparate treatment to support their claim of racial discrimination. See id. at 11-12. ("[appellants] have not shown another person whose circumstances were similar to theirs and who received more favorable treatment than they did.").
Judgment was entered for appellees. Thereafter, by order dated March 15, 2000, the district court partially granted the Boy Scouts Chickasaw Council's request for costs. Appellants were ordered to pay $2,056.51. These appeals followed.
We review a grant of summary judgment de novo. The question before the district court, and this court on appeal, is whether the record, when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Where the unresolved issues are primarily legal rather than factual, summary judgment is particularly appropriate. See Crain v. Board of Police Comm'rs, 920 F.2d 1402, 1405-06 (8th Cir.1990).
Appellants argue that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for appellees because there are genuine issues of material fact precluding judgment as a matter of law. Appellants generally contend that they presented sufficient evidence to support an inference of appellees' racial animus, for purposes of proving each of the claims at issue in the present appeal. Appellants highlight "the use of racial slurs, the presence of a sash bearing the letters `KKK,' and suspicious circumstances surrounding the removal of [appellants] from the camp." Brief for Appellants at 7. Regarding the "KKK" sash, appellants maintain that it should not matter that the camp was once named Kamp Kia Kima, because "KKK has long been a symbol for black inferiority and white supremacy." Id. at 13.
Regarding their § 1981 claim, appellants now argue that, not only do they have a claim under § 1981's "full and equal benefit" clause (which they have consistently asserted), but also they have a claim under the "make and enforce contracts" clause of § 1981 because they "were in an implied contract with [the Boy Scouts Chickasaw Council] through the Kiwanis Club." Id. at 14. To the extent the district court relied upon the lack of state action as a basis for dismissing the § 1981 claim against the Boy Scouts Chickasaw Council, appellants maintain that the district court erred in
To the extent the district court held that there was insufficient evidence of a conspiracy, as a basis for granting summary judgment on the §§ 1985(3) and 1986 claims, appellants argue that a fact finder could reasonably infer that the Boy Scouts Chickasaw Council and the sheriff's department had engaged in a conspiracy based on racial hostility. Appellants maintain that there were numerous communications between camp administrators and the sheriff's department, and the sheriff's department facilitated the removal of Adams from the camp and the camp van, even though none of the deputy sheriffs ever observed hostile behavior by Adams. Appellants contend that Halcom himself took specific steps in furtherance of this conspiracy. For example, appellants argue, Halcom flashed his headlights as a signal to the approaching camp van, used his gun to force Adams out of the van, and told Adams that he would have to find his own way back to Memphis.
Finally, as to the § 2000a claim, appellants assert, among other arguments, that the district court committed reversible error by using the burden-shifting analysis most commonly used in employment discrimination cases. In this non-employment case, appellants contend, "[d]iscrimination may be shown by proving [appellees'] racial animus through their conduct which violated [appellants'] constitutional and civil rights." Brief for Appellants at 21.
Beginning with appellants' § 1981 claim, we first note that, notwithstanding appellants' effort now to assert the contracts clause as a basis for their claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, appellants are bound by their decision to rely only on the equal benefits clause of § 1981 in the district court. See slip op. at 7 n. 5 ("Plaintiffs are attempting to use the `equal benefits' clause, as opposed to its more commonly used `contracts' clause."). Regarding appellants' argument that the district court erroneously adopted the holding in Mahone, 564 F.2d at 1029, that state action is a requirement of a claim under § 1981's equal benefits clause, we recognize that this court had not, until just recently, squarely adopted Mahone's holding — although we had, on several occasions, cited Mahone with approval. See, e.g., Griffin v. Pinkerton's Inc., 173 F.3d 661, 664 (8th Cir.1999); Premachandra v. Mitts, 753 F.2d 635, 640 n. 5 (8th Cir.1985); Taylor v. Jones, 653 F.2d 1193, 1205 n. 10 (8th Cir.1981). However, this court has now directly addressed the issue. For purposes of asserting a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, "`[b]ecause the state is the sole source of the law, it is only the state that can deny the full and equal benefit of the law.'" Youngblood v. Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc., 266 F.3d 851, 855 (8th Cir.2001) (quoting Chapman v. Higbee Co., 256 F.3d 416, 420 (6th Cir.2001) (citing Mahone, 564 F.2d at 1029)).
We also disagree with appellants' contention that state action can be imputed to the Boy Scouts Chickasaw Council under the "symbiotic relationship" test or the "nexus approach." There simply is no evidence in the present case that the state, through a sheriff's department or anyone else, situated itself in a position of interdependence with the camp administrators or was so connected with the actions of the camp administrators, that the conduct in question may be attributed to the state.
We now turn to appellants' claim under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a, alleging denial of equal access to a place of public accommodation based on racial discrimination. Appellees urge us to affirm the summary judgment disposition not only on the basis of the district court's reasoning, but also because the camp is not a place of public accommodation. Like the district court, we find it unnecessary to decide whether the camp was a place of public accommodation because appellants' claim under § 2000a fails for other reasons. As to Floyd Jones and his stepsons, the § 2000a claim fails because the evidence establishes beyond genuine dispute that they left the camp voluntarily; they were not asked to leave but did so in support of Adams. As to Adams, the § 2000a claim fails because the evidence does not adequately support the inference that race was a motivating factor in the decision to have him removed from the camp. When asked during his deposition about the racially charged remarks he allegedly heard while at the camp, Adams could not specifically recall who made the remarks or when they were made. See Boy Scouts' Separate Appendix at 46-48 (deposition of Michael Adams at 96-98). While he did present evidence that some of the teenage camp counselors made racially offensive jokes and comments, see id., and that an unnamed camp administrator directed a racial slur at him, see id. at 47; Appellants' Appendix at 211 (affidavit of Michael Adams) ("a camp administrator said to me, `nobody's leaving this camp but your black ass'"), he did not present evidence identifying that particular camp administrator or suggesting that any of the individuals making the offensive remarks had a role in the decision to remove him from the camp. Accordingly, the evidence is not sufficiently specific to establish a genuine issue of material fact. See Herring v. Canada Life Assurance Co., 207 F.3d 1026, 1030 (8th Cir.2000) (in order to withstand a motion for summary judgment, opposing party must identify "specific facts" from which a genuine issue of material fact can be inferred).
For the reasons stated, we affirm the district court's dismissal on summary judgment of appellants' statutory claims. We further hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering appellants to pay $2,056.51 in costs. Appellants have demonstrated no legal or equitable basis for reversing that order.
The judgment of the district court and the order to pay costs are affirmed.
A claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1986 (action for neglect to prevent commission of § 1985 violation) is dependent upon a valid § 1985 claim. See Lewellen v. Raff, 843 F.2d 1103, 1116 (8th Cir.1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1033, 109 S.Ct. 1171, 103 L.Ed.2d 229 (1989).
The district court specifically noted that appellants were relying on the equal benefits clause of § 1981, not the "make and enforce contracts" clause. See slip op. at 7 n. 5.