Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., No. 85-1249

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore GEE and GARWOOD; GARWOOD
Citation798 F.2d 736
Docket NumberNo. 85-1249
Decision Date27 August 1986
Parties41 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1238, 41 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 36,436, 55 USLW 2215 Augusta CLARK, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Page 736

798 F.2d 736
41 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1238,
41 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 36,436, 55 USLW 2215
Augusta CLARK, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 85-1249.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Aug. 27, 1986.
Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Oct. 1, 1986.

Page 738

Law Offices of Art Brender, Art Brender, Fort Worth, Tex., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Cantey, Hanger, Gooch, Munn & Collins, Robert S. Travis, Donald K. Buckman, Fort Worth, Tex., for Tarrant County Adult Probation Dept.

Tim Curry, Dist. Atty., Van Thompson, Jr., Asst. Dist. Atty., Fort Worth, Tex., for Tarrant County, Texas.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before GEE and GARWOOD, Circuit Judges, and BOYLE, * District Judge.

GARWOOD, Circuit Judge:

Appellants, current or former female employees of the Tarrant County Adult Probation Department (Adult Probation), brought this suit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e, and 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, against Adult Probation and Tarrant County, Texas, claiming that they had been paid less than men who performed similar work and that they had been denied promotions because of their sex. The district court granted summary judgment for Tarrant County, holding that the probation officers were not employees of the County. The court dismissed the action against Adult Probation for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that appellants came within the personal staff exemption of Title VII and that the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution barred their section 1983 claims because Adult Probation is an arm of the state.

On their appeal from this action, appellants claim that the district court erred in its dismissal regarding Adult Probation,

Page 739

and that the summary judgment for Tarrant County was improper because appellants did not receive adequate notice and there were genuine issues of material fact. We hold that the district court erred in dismissing the Title VII claims against Adult Probation. Where, as here, the questions concerning subject matter jurisdiction are intertwined with the merits, the court should not dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction unless the claim is frivolous or clearly excluded by prior law. While we make no determination regarding the merits of appellants' Title VII claims against Adult Probation, we do hold that the claims are not frivolous and accordingly reverse the district court's dismissal. We determine that Adult Probation is an arm of the state such that under the Eleventh Amendment there is a lack of subject matter jurisdiction over the section 1983 claims against it, and we affirm the dismissal of those claims. We determine that appellants received sufficient notice that the district court might treat Tarrant County's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief as a motion for summary judgment, and that there were no genuine issues of material fact. Accordingly, we affirm the summary judgment for Tarrant County.

Facts and Proceedings Below

Augusta Clark, Vickie Hammond, and Brenda Buckner, all current or former employees of Adult Probation, filed this suit in June 1982 under Title VII 1 against Adult Probation and Tarrant County, initiating what would become a nearly three-year battle of motions, discovery, and evidentiary hearings in the district court. Appellants' central claim was that they were paid less than men who performed similar work and that they had been denied promotions because of their sex. Adult Probation initially responded to appellants' complaint by filing a "Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment." Adult Probation's initial motion challenged the district court's Title VII jurisdiction by arguing that Clark and the other employees were members of elected officials' personal staffs and, therefore, were exempt from Title VII coverage. Adult Probation suggested that an evidentiary hearing be held. Clark did not respond to the motion within twenty days as required by the local rules. In September 1982, the district court issued a show cause order threatening dismissal for lack of prosecution. Clark responded by requesting additional time, which the district court granted. On the same day that Clark requested additional time, she also filed an amended complaint restating the Title VII claim and adding a claim under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Subsequently, in October 1982, Adult Probation filed an amended motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), claiming that the court "lacks subject matter jurisdiction of this defendant under Title VII ... because plaintiffs are not within the protection of that statute," and that the court "lacks subject matter jurisdiction" of the other claims because Adult Probation was an arm of the state and the suit against it was barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Tarrant County filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and for failure to join indispensable parties under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7). Tarrant County claimed that it was not an employer of the appellants since Texas statutory law gave control and direction of the Adult Probation Department to the state judiciary. Tarrant County also argued that the criminal district judges of Tarrant County were indispensable parties to this litigation based on the district court's previous holding in Shore v. Howard, 414 F.Supp. 379 (N.D.Tex.1976). 2

Page 740

Clark did not respond to either defendant's motion, and both defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution in December 1982. That same month, the district court issued a show cause order. In February 1983, Clark responded to the show cause order by asking for additional time in which to move for class certification, which was granted, and submitted a response to defendants' motions.

The district court, in an order dated July 12, 1983, informed the parties of a hearing on all pending motions. The hearing began September 15, 1983, and was concluded the following day. At the hearing, two elected state court judges and appellant Hammond testified about the Title VII issue, and an officer in the Tarrant County Auditor's Office testified about the financial relationship between Adult Probation and the County. After the hearing, the parties continued discovery and unsuccessfully explored settlement in 1984. In January 1985, Adult Probation submitted a posthearing brief supported by transcripts of the hearing. In February 1985, Clark attempted to file two deposition transcripts, but, on Adult Probation's motion, the district court ordered them stricken from the record. On March 20, 1985, the district court issued a memorandum opinion in which Judge Belew found that the positions held by Clark and the other appellants came within the personal staff exemption of Title VII, thus nullifying that claim, and that Adult Probation enjoyed Eleventh Amendment immunity from a section 1983 suit because it was an extension of the state judiciary. He granted summary judgment for Tarrant County, finding that appellants were not employees of Tarrant County. 608 F.Supp. 209.

After the issuance of the court's opinion, Clark tried once again to have the deposition transcripts entered into the record by motion on March 29, 1985, and Adult Probation responded with its opposition on April 15, 1985. On April 12, 1985, Clark filed her notice of appeal. Her motion to augment the record was denied by the district court on April 29, 1985. On May 10, Clark filed with this Court a motion to modify the record, which once again attempted to interject the deposition testimony. We denied that motion on May 26.

Discussion

Each appellee had a distinct motion before the district court. Adult Probation had a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Tarrant County had a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and failure to join indispensable parties under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7). As each of these motions has a different standard for review, we will discuss each motion separately.

Adult Probation's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

When the district court set the motions for hearing in July 1983, when the hearing was held in September 1983, and when its ruling was made in March 1985, the district court had before it, with respect to Adult Probation, only that defendant's amended Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In response to appellants' original complaint, Adult Probation had originally filed a motion for either a Rule 12(b)(1) dismissal or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. However, well after Adult Probation's original motion was filed, appellants filed an amended complaint, which was a wholly self-contained instrument setting out all of appellants' claims, including not only claims under Title VII but also claims under section 1983 and the United States Constitution which had not previously been asserted. This amended complaint entirely superseded and took the place of the original complaint. Wilson v. First Houston Investment Corp., 566 F.2d 1235, 1237-38 (5th Cir.1978), vacated on other grounds, 444 U.S. 959, 100 S.Ct. 442, 62 L.Ed.2d 371 (1979); 6 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure Sec. 1476. Subsequently, in response to this amended complaint--then the only complaint in the

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case--Adult Probation, in October 1982, filed its amended motion to dismiss for want of subject matter jurisdiction. No motion for summary judgment or for dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) was ever filed by Adult Probation with...

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633 practice notes
  • Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, No. C 96-4023-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • February 13, 1998
    ...v. Brookshire, 34 F.3d 291, 295 (5th Cir.1994); Williams v. Meese, 926 F.2d 994, 997 (10th Cir.1991); Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., 798 F.2d 736, 742 (5th Cir. 1986); Armbruster v. Quinn, 711 F.2d 1332, 1339 (6th Cir.1983); Cobb v. Sun Papers, 673 F.2d 337, 339 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 4......
  • Wheeler v. Ceniza, Civil Action No. 3:12-CV-1898-L
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Texas
    • March 15, 2013
    ...facts as well as undisputed facts in the record and make findings of fact related to the jurisdictional issue. Clark v. Tarrant Cnty., 798 F.2d 736, 741 (5th Cir. 1986). All factual allegations of the complaint, however, must be accepted as true. Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap As, 241 F.3d at......
  • Williams v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc., No. Civ. A. H–13–2510.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • September 22, 2015
    ...Oct. 22, 2008), quoting Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell & Assocs., 104 F.3d 1256, 1261 (11th Cir.1997), and citing Clark v. Tarrant County, 798 F.2d 736, 741 (5th Cir.1986).Rule 12(h)(3) states, "If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court must dismis......
  • BHL Boresight, Inc. v. Geo-Steering Solutions, Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:15-CV-00627
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • March 29, 2016
    ...motions to ones for summary judgment, the Court is bound to the pleadings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Clark v. Tarrant Cnty., 798 F.2d 736, 745 (5th Cir. 1986) ("The district court considered matters outside the pleadings in ruling on the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
635 cases
  • Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, No. C 96-4023-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • February 13, 1998
    ...v. Brookshire, 34 F.3d 291, 295 (5th Cir.1994); Williams v. Meese, 926 F.2d 994, 997 (10th Cir.1991); Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., 798 F.2d 736, 742 (5th Cir. 1986); Armbruster v. Quinn, 711 F.2d 1332, 1339 (6th Cir.1983); Cobb v. Sun Papers, 673 F.2d 337, 339 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 4......
  • Wheeler v. Ceniza, Civil Action No. 3:12-CV-1898-L
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Texas
    • March 15, 2013
    ...facts as well as undisputed facts in the record and make findings of fact related to the jurisdictional issue. Clark v. Tarrant Cnty., 798 F.2d 736, 741 (5th Cir. 1986). All factual allegations of the complaint, however, must be accepted as true. Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap As, 241 F.3d at......
  • Williams v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc., No. Civ. A. H–13–2510.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • September 22, 2015
    ...Oct. 22, 2008), quoting Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell & Assocs., 104 F.3d 1256, 1261 (11th Cir.1997), and citing Clark v. Tarrant County, 798 F.2d 736, 741 (5th Cir.1986).Rule 12(h)(3) states, "If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court must dismis......
  • BHL Boresight, Inc. v. Geo-Steering Solutions, Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:15-CV-00627
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • March 29, 2016
    ...motions to ones for summary judgment, the Court is bound to the pleadings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Clark v. Tarrant Cnty., 798 F.2d 736, 745 (5th Cir. 1986) ("The district court considered matters outside the pleadings in ruling on the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
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