Thaddeus Edmonson (plaintiff) was a construction worker injured on the job while working for Leesville Concrete Co. (defendant). Edmonson sued Leesville Concrete Co. for negligence in federal district court. Edmonson invoked his Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. During voir dire, Leesville used two of its three statutorily-permitted peremptory challenges to remove African American persons from the prospective jury. Edmonson, an African American, requested that the court require Leesville to articulate a race-neutral reason for its peremptory challenges. The court denied the request on the grounds that the case was a civil proceeding. The result was a jury composed of eleven Caucasian people and one African American person. The jury rendered a verdict for Edmonson for $90,000, but reduced it to $18,000 because it found Edmonson eighty percent at fault. Edmonson appealed, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.