Rogers v. Stratton Industries, Inc., 85-5668

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Citation798 F.2d 913
Docket NumberNo. 85-5668,85-5668
Parties41 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1160, 41 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 36,555 James H. ROGERS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. STRATTON INDUSTRIES, INC., Fred S. Almy, and D.E. Stolberg, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date21 August 1986

Page 913

798 F.2d 913
41 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1160,
41 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 36,555
James H. ROGERS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
STRATTON INDUSTRIES, INC., Fred S. Almy, and D.E. Stolberg,
No. 85-5668.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued April 11, 1986.
Decided Aug. 21, 1986.

Page 914

James G. Stranch, III, Branstetter, Kilgore, Stranch and Jennings, Nashville, Tenn., Jan Jennings (argued), for plaintiff-appellant.

Larry W. Bridgesmith (argued), Constangy, Brooks & Smith, Nashville, Tenn., Edward Katze, Constangy, Brooks & Smith, Atlanta, Ga., for defendants-appellees.

Before KRUPANSKY, GUY and BOGGS, Circuit Judges.


On March 7, 1985 plaintiff Rogers filed an age discrimination in employment case against the defendants (hereinafter Stratton), his former employer. This litigation was instituted pursuant to the provisions of Tenn.Code Ann. Secs. 4-21-101, et seq., in the Chancery Court for Davidson County, Tennessee. Since complete diversity existed between the parties, the case was removed to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on April 10, 1985.

Stratton did not file an answer after removal but, instead, on April 10, 1985, filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), alleging lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The motion was predicated upon an affidavit of the personnel manager of Stratton setting forth that at no time did Stratton ever employ eight or more employees within the State of Tennessee. Tennessee Code Annotated Sec. 4-21-102(4) defines "Employer" as anyone "employing eight (8) or more persons within the state...."

Rogers initially filed no response to the motion to dismiss. Rule 8(b)(3) of the Local Rules for the Middle District of Tennessee provides:

Each party opposing a motion shall serve and file a response, reply memorandum, affidavits or other responsive material not later than ten (10) days after service of the motion, except that in cases of motion for summary judgment the time shall be twenty (20) days after the service of the motion. Failure to file a response shall indicate that there is no opposition to the motion. Provided, however, the Trial Judge may act on the motion prior to the time set forth hereinbefore. In such event, the affected party may file a motion to reconsider within ten (10) days, or twenty (20) days in the case of a motion for summary judgment, after service of the order reflecting the action of the Judge. In any event, a previously prevailing party on a motion shall not respond to a motion to reconsider unless the Trial Judge orders a response.

Despite no timely response being filed, the district court, on May 2, 1985, set this motion for oral argument on June 6, 1985. Stratton filed a motion to ascertain status of case. 1 This motion set forth plaintiff's failure to respond to the motion to dismiss and requested that such motion be granted. On May 17, 1985, plaintiff finally responded by filing a simple affidavit. 2 On May

Page 915

24, 1985, the district court entered an order granting Stratton's motion to dismiss, which order stated that "[p]laintiff's failure to file a response indicates that there is no opposition to the motion." Within ten days of this order being entered, Rogers filed a motion to reconsider the dismissal. The motion to reconsider stated nothing other than the fact that plaintiff had filed an affidavit prior to the June 6, 1985 date set for oral argument, and plaintiff attached to the motion the same affidavit filed on May 17, 1985. The district court denied the motion to reconsider on June 13, 1985 without opinion.

On appeal, Rogers makes three arguments: (1) the district court had subject matter jurisdiction; (2) Rogers' affidavit gave notice to the court that he opposed Stratton's motion to dismiss; and (3) if jurisdiction was not present, the case should have been remanded to state court. Since all of these arguments revolve around the procedural history of this litigation and are interrelated, we will discuss them together rather than seriatim.

Under Tennessee law, a victim of alleged employment discrimination may proceed either administratively through the Tennessee Human Rights Commission followed by judicial review, or he may file a direct action in chancery court. Hoge v. Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Tenn., Inc., 673 S.W.2d 157 (Tenn.Ct.App.1984); Tenn.Code Ann. Sec. 4-21-311 (1985). Plaintiff here chose to bring a direct action in chancery court. It is axiomatic that a federal court sitting in a case removed under diversity jurisdiction can exercise no more or no less jurisdiction than the court from which the case was removed. Thus, the initial question raised by plaintiff translates into the question of whether the Davidson County, Tennessee, Chancery Court would have had subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim. Although deceptively easy to frame, the resolution of this issue is far from problem free.

There is no doubt that the Tennessee chancery courts generally have subject matter jurisdiction over claims of age discrimination brought pursuant to the applicable Tennessee statute. Plaintiff would argue no further than this. Inherent in plaintiff's argument is that if a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) was appropriate at all, it should have been one brought under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Defendants, however, would argue that Tennessee chancery courts are limited in age discrimination in employment cases to those brought against employers who employ "eight (8) or more persons within the state." Tenn.Code Ann. Sec. 4-21-102. Defendants' argument is that having eight or more employees is the jurisdictional threshold in this type of case and since they did not have eight employees within the State of Tennessee, the court had no subject matter jurisdiction.

The disagreement between the parties has ramifications which extend beyond this dispute being a mere "battle of labels." For example, in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion in which matters outside the record are relied upon as they were here, 3 the moving party (here defendants) has the burden of showing there are no genuine issues as to any material facts, as the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Conversely, where subject matter jurisdiction is challenged under Rule 12(b)(1), as it was here, the plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction in order to survive the motion. Perhaps even more importantly, when a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is converted to a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment, the court, upon finding genuine issues as to material facts, must deny the motion; whereas on a Rule 12(b)(1) challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, the court is empowered to resolve factual disputes. Williamson v. Tucker,

Page 916

645 F.2d 404 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 897, 102 S.Ct. 396, 70 L.Ed.2d 212 (1981); Mortensen v. First Federal Savings & Loan Assn., 549 F.2d 884 (3d Cir.1977). In this regard, it is clear that in either a Rule 12(b)(1) or a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the parties are free to supplement the record by affidavits; however, in a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, this supplementation does not convert the motion into a Rule 56 summary judgment motion. Land v. Dollar, 330 U.S. 731, 735 n. 4, 67 S.Ct. 1009, 1011 n. 4, 91 L.Ed. 1209 (1947); Gordon v. National Work Youth Alliance, 675 F.2d 356, 363 (D.C.Cir.1982).

If the defendants are correct, as a matter of Tennessee law, that the number of employees is a jurisdictional element, the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
591 cases
  • In Re Title Insurance Antitrust Cases., Case No. 1:08CV677.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • March 31, 2010
    ...the presumption of truthfulness. Abdelkhaleq, 2008 WL 3980339 at *2 ( citing Ritchie, 15 F.3d at 598); Rogers v. Stratton Indus., Inc., 798 F.2d 913, 915 (6th Cir.1986); see also Ernst v. Rising, 427 F.3d 351, 372 (6th Cir.2005). “[W]here subject matter jurisdiction is challenged under Rule......
  • Diggs v. U.S. Dep't of Air Force, Case No.: 3:20-cv-16
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 23, 2021 weigh the evidence and resolve disputed questions of fact bearing on the court's jurisdiction. See Rogers v. Stratton Indus., Inc., 798 F. 2d 913, 915 (6th Cir. 1986); Ohio Nat'l Life, 922 F. 2d at 325. The district court's factual findings, however, do not bind the Court in future proce......
  • Hartman v. Acton, Case No. 2:20-CV-1952
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • November 3, 2020
    ...Moir v. Greater Cleveland Reg'l Transit Auth. , 895 F.2d 266, 269 (6th Cir. 1990) (citing Rogers v. Stratton Industries, Inc. , 798 F.2d 913, 915 (6th Cir. 1986) ). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) motions to dismiss based upon subject matter jurisdiction generally come in two varie......
  • MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. Phx. Ins. Co., Case No. 5:19cv00436
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • December 12, 2019 330 ). The plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction when subject matter jurisdiction is challenged. Rogers v. Stratton Indus. , 798 F.2d 913, 915 (6th Cir. 1986). The court may allow "affidavits, documents and even a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT