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Jury: Airline Not Liable for Racist Rhyme


— January 21, 2004

Southwest Airlines is not liable for a flight attendant who upset two black passengers by using a version of a rhyme with a racist history, a jury determined Wednesday.

The two passengers, sisters Louise Sawyer and Grace Fuller, were heading home from a Las Vegas vacation nearly three years ago when flight attendant Jennifer Cundiff, trying to get passengers to sit down, said over the intercom, “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.”

The sisters say the rhyme was directed at them and was a reference to a racist version that dates to before the civil rights era: “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; catch a n—– by his toe.”

The sisters filed a federal lawsuit against the airline claiming they were discriminated against and suffered physical and emotional distress.

I’m sorry if the plaintiffs were offended, but I always felt this case had no merit because the flight attendant was unaware of the rhyme’s racist past, and the airline was unaware of its use entirely. At worst, it was an unfortunate, innocent mistake. It looks like the jury agreed, as reported here by the AP.


Southwest Airlines is not liable for a flight attendant who upset two black passengers by using a version of a rhyme with a racist history, a jury determined Wednesday.

The two passengers, sisters Louise Sawyer and Grace Fuller, were heading home from a Las Vegas vacation nearly three years ago when flight attendant Jennifer Cundiff, trying to get passengers to sit down, said over the intercom, “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.”

The sisters say the rhyme was directed at them and was a reference to a racist version that dates to before the civil rights era: “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; catch a n—– by his toe.”

The sisters filed a federal lawsuit against the airline claiming they were discriminated against and suffered physical and emotional distress.

I’m sorry if the plaintiffs were offended, but I always felt this case had no merit because the flight attendant was unaware of the rhyme’s racist past, and the airline was unaware of its use entirely. At worst, it was an unfortunate, innocent mistake. It looks like the jury agreed, as reported here by the AP.

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