Eenie Meenie Minie Update

Grace Fuller claims that she suffered two epileptic seizures because a flight attendant used the phrase “Eenie, meenie, minie, mo, pick a seat, we gotta go” to passengers boarding an open-seating flight late; Fuller and her travelling companion, both African-Americans, ascribed racist meaning to the phrase, and sued under a variety of federal and state claims. Some claims were thrown out, and a jury did what a judge should’ve done sooner, and bounced the rest. (Feb. 9, 2004; Jan. 22, 2004 and links therein).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court judgment for defendants. After a full trial, and briefing for an appeal, the cost to Southwest Airlines of “Eenie Meenie Minie Moe” was surely in the six digits. But, though the law in questions permit plaintiffs to recover attorneys’ fees if they are successful (surely the only reason an attorney agreed to bring this suit), defendant Southwest Airlines is going to have to swallow the cost of this ridiculous suit. The opinion creates no precedent, so if Sawyer wants to sue someone else for using a nursery rhyme, she can do so in the future. (Sawyer v. Southwest Airlines Co., No. 04-3109 (10th Cir. Aug. 10, 2005) (hat tip to P.N.)).

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