United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MELINDA HARMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 24), as
well as Plaintiff's Response (Doc. 27) and
Defendants' Reply (Doc. 28). Upon review and
consideration of the Motion, Response, Reply, relevant legal
authority, and for the reasons explained below, the Court
finds that Defendants' Motion should be denied.
Seneca Jones, who is African-American, worked as a hydraulic
technician for Tubal-Cain Hydraulic Solutions
(“Defendant TCHS”) beginning on February 6, 2012.
Doc. 24 at 8. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants discriminated
against him because of his race in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, and 42 U.S.C.
§1981. Doc. 27 at 2. Plaintiff asserts that during his
employment he was subjected to discriminatory and racially
motivated comments and threatening conduct, and harassed by
management and co-workers on a regular basis. Id.
filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC on July 17, 2012,
naming Defendant TCHS as respondent. Doc. 24 at 8. Plaintiff
amended his charge on August 22, 2013, and received his
right-to-sue letter on February 19, 2016. Plaintiff then
filed suit on May 6, 2016. Id. at 8-9.
sues nine defendants: Defendant TCHS, Tubal-Cain Industries,
Inc.; Tubal-Cain Holdings, Inc.; Tubal-Cain Marine Services,
Inc.; Tubal-Cain Industrial Services, Inc.; Tubal-Cain Gas
Free Services, Inc.; Tubal-Cain Rentals, Inc.; Tubal-Cain
Marine Services-Devall Fleet, Inc.; and Tubal-Cain Gas Free
Services-Devall Fleet, Inc. (all Defendants except Defendant
TCHS are referred to as the “Non-TCHS
Defendants”). Defendants now move to dismiss pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Id. at 1.
their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants assert that, under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), the Non-TCHS Defendants are entitled
to dismissal because: (1) Plaintiff has not exhausted his
administrative remedies as to these Defendants because they
were not named as respondents in Plaintiff's Charge of
Discrimination or Amended Charge of Discrimination, and (2)
Plaintiff did not timely file his Amended Charge of
Discrimination. Id. at 10-15. Defendants further
assert that, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), Defendants are not
subject to liability on two grounds: (1) Plaintiff did not
plead sufficient facts to show that the Non-TCHS Defendants
were joint employers or an integrated enterprise with
Defendant TCHS, and (2) as to all Defendants, Plaintiff's
claims under Section 1981 are barred by the statute of
limitations. Id. at 10-16.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) governs challenges to a
court's subject-matter jurisdiction. “A case is
properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to
adjudicate the case.” Krim v. pcOrder.com,
Inc., 402 F.3d 489, 494 (5th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of
Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998)).
“Courts may dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction on any one of three bases: (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.” Spotts v. United States, 613 F.3d 559,
565-66 (5th Cir. 2010). “The burden of proof for a Rule
12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting
jurisdiction. Accordingly, the plaintiff constantly bears the
burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist.”
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th
Cir. 2001) (citations omitted).
12(b)(1) motion can mount either a facial or factual
challenge. See, e.g., Paterson v.
Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir. 1981). When a
party files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion without including
evidence, the challenge to subject-matter jurisdiction is
facial. Id. If, however, defendant supports its
motion with affidavits, testimony, or other evidentiary
materials, then the attack is “factual, ” and the
burden shifts to the plaintiff to prove subject-matter
jurisdiction. Id. When examining a factual challenge
to subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the
district court has substantial authority “to weigh the
evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power
to hear the case.” Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell &
Assocs., 104 F.3d 1256, 1261 (11th Cir. 1997). See
also Clark v. Tarrant Cnty., 798 F.2d 736, 741 (5th Cir.
1986). “When a party challenges the allegations
supporting subject-matter jurisdiction, the court has wide
discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and a
limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed
jurisdictional facts.” Walsh v. Aries Freight Sys.,
L.P., 2007 WL 3001650, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 12, 2007).
In such instances, a court's reference to evidence
outside the pleadings does not convert the motion to dismiss
to a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. Id.
Accordingly, the court may consider matters outside the
pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits, to resolve a
factual challenge to subject-matter jurisdiction, without
converting the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment.
Id. See also Garcia, 104 F.3d at 1261.
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes
the filing of a motion to dismiss a case for failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). “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 its entitlement to relief requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause
of action's elements will not do.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (internal quotations omitted). A plaintiff
must allege sufficient facts to state a claim that is
“plausible” on its face. Id. at 569. A
claim is facially plausible when a “plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
676, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). However, a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss “is viewed with disfavor and is
rarely granted.” Kaiser Aluminum & Chem. Sales
v. Avondale Shipyards, 677 F.2d 1045, 1050 (5th Cir.
1982). Therefore, the complaint must be liberally construed
in favor of the plaintiff, all reasonable inferences are to
be drawn in favor of the plaintiff's claims, and all
factual allegations pleaded in the complaint must be taken as
true. Overton v. JMPC Chase Bank, 2010 WL 1141417
(S.D. Tex. March 20, 2010) (citing Campbell v. Wells
Fargo Bank, 781 F.2d 440, 442 (5th Cir. 1986). It is the
court's responsibility to determine whether the plaintiff
has stated a legally cognizable claim that is plausible, not
to evaluate the plaintiff's likelihood of success.
Id. However, conclusory allegations and unwarranted
factual deductions will not suffice to avoid a motion to
dismiss. United States ex rel. Willard v. Humana Health
Plan of Tex., Inc., 336 F.3d 375, 379 (5th Cir. 2003).
“Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely
consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short
of the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at
1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal
a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with other
Rule 12 motions, the court should consider the Rule 12(b)(1)
jurisdictional attack before addressing any attack on the
merits.” Morris v. Livingston, 739 F.3d 740,
745 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting Randall D. Wolcott, M.D.,
P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 762 (5th Cir. 2011)).
Further, if a complaint could be dismissed for both lack of
jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim, “the
court should dismiss only on the jurisdictional ground under
Rule 12(b)(1), without reaching the question of failure to
state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6).” Crenshaw-Logal
v. City of Abilene, 436 F. App'x 306, 308 (5th Cir.
2011) (quoting Hitt v. City of Pasadena, 561 F.2d
606, 608 (5th Cir. 1977)). This approach “prevents [a]
court without jurisdiction ‘from prematurely
dismissing a case with prejudice.'” Id.
(quoting Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161).
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of ...