December 23, 2016
Floyd G. Elmore, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri Plaintiff-Appellant
Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc., doing business as Harbor Freight Tools Defendant-Appellee
Submitted: November 15, 2016
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Kansas City
RILEY, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
Elmore brought suit against Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc.
after a Harbor Freight manager accused Elmore of stealing
from the store earlier in the day. Elmore filed suit in
federal district court, alleging federal claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1981 and state law negligence claims. The
district court dismissed Elmore's § 1981 claim
for failure to plead state action as required under
Youngblood v. Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc., 266 F.3d 851
(8th Cir. 2001), and, declining to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction, dismissed Elmore's state law negligence
claims without prejudice. Because we conclude Elmore was
required to allege state action as part of his § 1981
claim and the district court did not abuse its discretion in
declining to extend supplemental jurisdiction to Elmore's
state law negligence claims, we affirm.
an African American, visited his local Harbor Freight
hardware store in Independence, Missouri, on May 9, 2015, at
approximately 8:30 p.m. As he was exiting the store, after
choosing not to make a purchase, a female store manager
stated: "I'm watching you. I caught you stealing
here earlier today and told you not to come back any
more." Elmore responded he had not stolen from the
store, or even been at the store earlier that day, and the
manager said she would call the police. The manager's
male companion was also present and yelled at Elmore. After
the manager called the police, Elmore left the store to pick
up his wife.
and his wife returned to the store and took photographs of
the manager's male companion making an obscene gesture in
their direction. Once the police arrived, they questioned
Elmore about the incident and ultimately told him "it
was a civil matter" and that Elmore should leave. Elmore
left the premises and later called Harbor Freight's
district manager to inform him of the event. The district
manager told Elmore the incident "made [him] sick."
filed suit against Harbor Freight, claiming federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 1331 and
supplemental jurisdiction over state law negligence claims
under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Elmore's complaint included
a claim under § 1981 alleging "[t]he actions of
Harbor Freight's agents and employees against Plaintiff
Elmore on the basis of his race interfered with Elmore's
right to the full and equal benefit of the law." Elmore
also included two state law negligence claims, alleging
Harbor Freight negligently failed to train and supervise its
employees to prevent them "from wrongfully engaging in
racially discriminatory practices."
Freight moved to dismiss Elmore's complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On December 30,
2015, the district court granted Harbor Freight's motion
and dismissed Elmore's complaint in its entirety. Elmore
appeals, and we have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
Standard of Review
review a district court's grant of a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6) de novo and take the facts alleged in the
complaint to be true. See Blomker v. Jewell, 831
F.3d 1051, 1055 (8th Cir. 2016). "To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face'" and include "factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)).
Section 1981 Claim
state a claim under § 1981, a plaintiff must plead:
"(1) that [the plaintiff] is a member of a protected
class; (2) that [the defendant] intended to discriminate on
the basis of race; and (3) that the discrimination on the
basis of race interfered with a protected activity as defined
in § 1981." Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc.,
354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). One such protected
activity is the enjoyment of "the full and equal benefit
of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and
property." 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a). "'Because
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, 266 F.3d at 855 (quoting
Chapman v. Higbee Co., 256 F.3d 416, 421 (6th Cir.
2001), rev'd en banc, 319 F.3d 825 (6th Cir.
2003), citing Mahone v. Waddle, 564 F.2d 1018, 1029
(3d Cir. 1977)). Therefore, only state action can give rise
to a cause of action under the full-and-equal-benefit clause.
did not plead any state action in his complaint. We have
already determined "[u]nder the Full-and-Equal Benefit
clause [of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, a plaintiff must] allege
that some sort of state action contributed to [the plaintiff]
being discriminated against." Bediako, 354 F.3d
at 838 n.3. Elmore argues we should overrule
Youngblood's requirement of state action because
the plain language of § 1981 contemplates private actors
can deprive others of the full and equal benefit of the law.
Some courts have agreed with Elmore's interpretation.
See, e.g. Chapman, 319 F.3d at 830, 833;
Phillip v. Univ. of Rochester, 316 F.3d 291, 295 (2d
Cir. 2003); Green v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No.
2:09CV00457, 2010 WL 3260000, at *4 (D. Utah Aug. 18, 2010);
Hunter v. The Buckle, Inc., 488 F.Supp.2d 1157, 1173
(D. Kan. 2007). However, "'[i]t is a cardinal rule
in [the Eighth Circuit] that one panel is bound by the
decision of a prior panel.'" United States v.
Betcher, 534 F.3d 820, 823-24 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Owsley v. Luebbers, 281 F.3d 687, 690 (8th Cir.
2002)). Thus, we are bound by Youngblood's state
action requirement. See Bilello v. Kum & Go,
LLC, 374 F.3d 656, 661 n.4 (8th Cir. 2004). The district
court did not err in dismissing Elmore's § 1981
claim for a failure to plead state action.
State Law Negligence Claims
the district court dismissed Elmore's federal claims, it
declined to extend supplemental jurisdiction for his state
law negligence claims. A district court has broad discretion
to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state
law claims after all claims over which the district court had
original jurisdiction have been dismissed. See Crest
Constr. II, Inc. v. Doe, 660 F.3d 346, 359 (8th Cir.
2011). "In exercising its discretion, the district court
should consider factors such as judicial economy,
convenience, fairness, and comity." Brown v. Mort.
Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 738 F.3d 926,
933 (8th Cir. 2013); see also 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c)(3) ("The district courts may decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over a claim . . . if . . . the
district court has dismissed all claims over which it has
district court determined a Missouri state court should
resolve state claims involving Missouri residents and that it
would be more fair and convenient to allow a Missouri state
court to hear these claims. Furthermore, the case was in the
nascent stages. The district court did not abuse its
discretion in declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over Elmore's state law claims once the district court
dismissed the claim over which it had original jurisdiction.
See Clark v. Iowa State Univ., 643 F.3d 643, 645
(8th Cir. 2011).
The Honorable Roseann A. Ketchmark,
United States District Judge for the Western District of