Williams v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc.

Decision Date22 September 2015
Docket NumberNo. Civ. A. H–13–2510.,Civ. A. H–13–2510.
Citation132 F.Supp.3d 858
Parties Jimmie WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, v. J.B. HUNT TRANSPORT, INC., Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas

132 F.Supp.3d 858

Jimmie WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
J.B. HUNT TRANSPORT, INC., Defendant.

No. Civ. A. H–13–2510.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division.

Signed Sept. 22, 2015.


132 F.Supp.3d 861

Delana G. Cline, Cline Ahmad, Houston, TX, for Plaintiff.

James Bradley Spalding, Travis J. Odom, Littler Mendelson PC, Houston, TX, for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MELINDA HARMON, District Judge.

Pending before the Court in the above referenced case, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and equitable relief for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA")of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12102 et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., is a motion to dismiss, and, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(h)(3), or 56(c) (instrument # 14), filed by Defendant J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc.

Standards of Review

Rule 12(b)(1)

Rule 12(b)(1) allows a party to move for dismissal of an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The party asserting that subject matter exists, here the plaintiff, must bear the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence for a 12(b)(1) motion. New Orleans & Gulf Coast Ry. Co. v. Barrois, 533 F.3d 321, 327 (5th Cir.2008) ; Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir.2001). In reviewing a motion under 12(b)(1) the court may consider (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts. Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir.1981).

A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) is characterized as either a "facial" attack, i.e., the allegations in the complaint are insufficient to invoke federal jurisdiction, or as a "factual" attack, i.e., the facts in the complaint supporting subject matter jurisdiction are questioned. In re Blue Water Endeavors, LLC, Bankr.No. 08–10466, Adv. No. 10–1015, 2011 WL 52525, *3 (E.D.Tex. Jan. 6, 2011), citing Rodriguez v. Texas Comm'n of Arts, 992 F.Supp. 876, 878–79 (N.D.Tex.1998), aff'd, 199 F.3d 279 (5th Cir.2000). A facial attack happens when a defendant files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion without accompanying evidence. Paterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir.1981). In a facial attack, allegations in the complaint are taken as true. Blue Water, 2011 WL 52525 at *3, citing Saraw Partnership v.

132 F.Supp.3d 862

United States, 67 F.3d 567, 569 (5th Cir.1995).

If it is a factual attack, the Court may consider any evidence (affidavits, testimony, documents, etc.) submitted by the parties that is relevant to the issue of jurisdiction. Id., citing Irwin v. Veterans Admin., 874 F.2d 1092, 1096 (5th Cir.1989). A defendant making a factual attack on a complaint may provide supporting affidavits, testimony or other admissible evidence. Paterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir.1981). The plaintiff, to satisfy its burden of proof, may also submit evidence to show by a preponderance of the evidence that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Id. The court's consideration of such matters outside the pleadings does not convert the motion to one for summary judgment under Rule 56(c). Robinson v. Paulson, H–06–4083, 2008 WL 4692392 at *10 (S.D.Tex. Oct. 28, 2008), citing Garcia, 104 F.3d at 1261. "Unlike in a facial attack where jurisdiction is determined upon the basis of allegations of the complaint, accepted as true[,] when a factual attack is made upon federal jurisdiction, no presumption of truthfulness attaches to the plaintiffs' jurisdictional allegations, and the court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. In a factual attack, the plaintiffs have the burden of proving that federal jurisdiction does in fact exist." Evans v. Tubbe, 657 F.2d 661, 663 (5th Cir.1981). In resolving a factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the district court, which does not address the merits of the suit,1 has significant authority " ‘to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case.’ " Robinson v. Paulson, No. H–06–4083, 2008 WL 4692392, *10 (S.D.Tex. 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 dismiss the action." Unlike Rule 12(b)(1), which must be raised by motion of a party, under Rule 12(h)(3) the court may raise lack of subject matter jurisdiction by itself at any time.

Rule 12(b)(6)

When a district court reviews a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), it must construe the complaint in favor of the plaintiff and take all well-pleaded facts as true. Randall D. Wolcott, MD, PA v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir.2011), citing Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir.2009). The plaintiff's legal conclusions are not entitled to the same assumption. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ("The tenet that a court must

132 F.Supp.3d 863

accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions."), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) ; Hinojosa v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 506 Fed.Appx. 280, 283 (5th Cir.2013).

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do...." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964–65, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (citations omitted). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 1965, citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235–236 (3d ed. 2004) ("[T]he pleading must contain something more ... than ... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action"). "Twombly jettisoned the minimum notice pleading requirement of Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957) ["a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief"], and instead required that a complaint allege enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face." St. Germain v. Howard, 556 F.3d 261, 263 n. 2 (5th Cir.2009), citing In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir.2007) ("To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ "), citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974. " ‘A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.’ " Montoya v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., 614 F.3d 145, 148 (5th Cir.2010), quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but asks for more than a "possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955. Dismissal is appropriate when the plaintiff fails to allege " ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face’ " and therefore fails to " ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.’ " Montoya, 614 F.3d at 148, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955.

In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, the Supreme Court stated that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss," a determination involving "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." "[T]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice" under Rule 12(b). Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. The plaintiff must plead specific facts, not merely conclusory allegations, to avoid dismissal. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498 (5th Cir.2000). "Dismissal is proper if the complaint lacks an allegation regarding a required element necessary to obtain relief...." Rios v. City of Del Rio, Texas, 444 F.3d 417, 421 (5th Cir.2006), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 825, 127 S.Ct. 181, 166 L.Ed.2d 43 (2006).

"Rule 12(b) is not a procedure for resolving contests about the facts or the merits of a case." Gallentine v. Housing Authority of City of Port Arthur, Tex., 919 F.Supp.2d 787, 794 (E.D.Tex.2013), citing 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and...

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