Thursday, September 6, 2012

Texas Dept of Community Affairs v. Burdine case brief

  1. Texas Dept of Community Affairs v. Burdine (SC 1981)
    1. SG: this is a rather useful exercise of application of presumption that SC had itself created, in context of Title VII cases alleging intentional discrimination in employment
    2. π has burden of proving a prima facie case – π has produced the basic facts, which, if believed by jury, will give rise to a presumption (π’s burden of production)
      1. judge decides whether a reasonable jury could find the elements of the prima facie case by a preponderance of the evidence
      2. prima facie case creates a rebuttable presumption of discrimination
    3. if Δ does nothing in face of the prima facie case, and π’s evidence is believed, the ct “must enter judgment for the plaintiff”
      1. if Δ wants to avoid this (dislodge the presumption), Δ must meet a burden of production
      2. but then the ct says something else, which makes some commentators think SC is giving presumption more respect than Thayer would
        • ct says that the proof must be “clear and reasonably specific” – suggests that Δ, to negative the presumed fact, has a higher obligation than the traditional burden of production (preponderance of the evidence)
    4. if burden is met, whatever it is (we’ll call it a production burden) – then battle shifts to π’s ct
      1. the presumption is gone, and π (who never lost the burden of persuasion) has to rely on her original proof to support the finding of discrimination
      2. if original proof is insufficient as a matter of law to satisfy the production burden on discrim, π is out of ct – even if nobody believed Δ’s evidence negativing presumed fact
      3. ct points out that jury might look at Δ’s proof negativing the presumed fact (offer of a nondiscrim reason), and disbelieve it – and that disbelief can actually bolster π’s case.

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