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Barfield v. Commerce Bank, N.A.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
484 F.3d 1276 (2007)


Chris Barfield (plaintiff), a Black man, went into a branch of Commerce Bank, N.A. (defendant) and requested change for a $50 bill. The bank teller refused because Barfield did not have an account at the bank. The next day, Barfield’s father, James Barfield (plaintiff), asked a White friend to request change at the bank branch. The White man was given change without being asked whether he had an account. James Barfield went into the bank a few minutes later and requested change for a $100 bill. The teller told him that he could not have change unless he had an account at the bank. James Barfield then told a White news reporter about the experience. The news reporter and his Black colleague went separately to the bank to request change. The bank teller asked the Black reporter whether he had an account at the bank but did not ask the White reporter. The Barfields sued the bank in federal district court alleging racial discrimination in the impairment of their ability to contract in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The district court granted the bank’s motion to dismiss, and the Barfields appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McConnell, J.)

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