United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
PITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Motion to
Deem Plaintiff Linda Baldwin a Vexatious Litigant. (Dkts. 13,
14). Having reviewed the parties' submissions, the case
record, and the governing law, the Court issues the following
Linda Baldwin is a former employee of Extended Stay America,
where she worked as a Guest Service Registration attendant.
Her duties included a number of tasks, including laundry,
breakfast setup, accounting, and housekeeping, among others.
Plaintiff alleges that, because of long hours standing on a
concrete floor, she developed plantar fasciitis in both feet
at some point in 2006 and was eventually required to undergo
surgery on her left foot. Plaintiff states that she reported
the injury to her supervisor, who allegedly did not take
appropriate steps to report Plaintiff's injury or provide
notice to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of
Workers' Compensation at that time.
allegations concerning the time period after her injury are
unclear. However, it appears that Plaintiff's employer
notified its workers' compensation insurance provider,
Defendant Zurich American Insurance Co., of Plaintiff's
injury on or around March 13, 2012. Defendant allegedly denied
Plaintiff income benefit payments connected with her injury;
Plaintiff asserts that this denial was made without an
appropriate investigation. This apparently resulted in
Plaintiff's filing a claim for coverage with the Division
of Workers' Compensation. On October 19, 2016, following
a benefit review conference, a hearing officer found that
Plaintiff was not entitled to workers' compensation
benefits. The Appeals Panel affirmed that decision on January
filed this action on February 27, 2017. She raises claims
against Defendant for unfair settlement practices in the
handling of her claim. This is not the first action Plaintiff
has filed on the matter; she has previously filed several
lawsuits in Texas state courts complaining of Defendant's
denial of benefits. See Baldwin v. Zurich Am. Ins.
Co., Cause No. D-1-GN-12-003139 (353rd Civ. Dist. Ct.
Travis Cty. 2012); Baldwin v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co.,
D-1-GN-13-001281 (261st Civ. Dist. Ct. Travis Cty. 2013);
Baldwin v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., D-1-GN-13-002454
(53rd Civ. Dist. Ct. Travis Cty. 2013); Baldwin v. Zurich
Am. Ins. Co., D-1-GN-17-000151 (98th Civ. Dist. Ct.
Travis Cty. 2017).
four-year gap between her 2013 and 2017 suits can be
explained by an order in the 2013 lawsuit deeming her a
vexatious litigant pursuant to Chapter 11 of the Texas Civil
Practice & Remedies Code. (Dkt. 15-1). The order
prohibited Plaintiff from filing any further lawsuits in
state court without judicial approval. See Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code § 11.102 (setting out
prerequisites to filing pro se complaint by
vexatious litigant). After filing her 2017 suit against
Defendant, the state court judge dismissed her claim on
February 21, 2017, after declining to grant leave to proceed
pursuant to section 11.102. (Dkt. 15-8). Plaintiff thereafter
sought to file an additional complaint on February 26, 2017,
but it was not assigned a cause number pursuant to the prior
order forbidding new and unauthorized suits. (See
Dkt. 15-7). The next day, Plaintiff filed the current suit in
federal court, which the state court order did not preclude.
(See Dkt. 15-1).
moves to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
Defendant additionally seeks to have Plaintiff deemed a
vexatious litigant, required to provide security, and
enjoined from filing further litigation in the federal courts
without prior judicial approval.
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) calls into question the federal court's
subject-matter jurisdiction. There are three avenues for a
movant to demonstrate a lack of jurisdiction: (1) on the face
of the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by
undisputed facts in the record; and (3) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts and the court's
resolution of disputed facts. Montez v. Dep't of
Navy, 392 F.3d 147, 149 (5th Cir. 2004). The burden of
demonstrating that jurisdiction exists rests at all times
with the party invoking the court's jurisdiction.
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th
jurisdictional challenge is raised, the court is generally
“free to weigh the evidence and resolve factual
disputes in order to satisfy itself that it has the power to
hear the case.” Montez, 392 F.3d at 149.
“However, where issues of fact are central both to
subject matter jurisdiction and the claim on the merits, . .
. the trial court must assume jurisdiction and proceed to the
merits.” Id. at 150 (finding that the issue of
respondeat superior was central to plaintiffs' negligence
claim and inappropriate for resolution under Rule 12(b)(1)).
evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6) the complaint must be liberally construed
in favor of the plaintiff and all facts pleaded therein must
be taken as true. Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics
Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164
(1993); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir.
1996). Although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 mandates
only that a pleading contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” this standard demands more than unadorned
accusations, “labels and conclusions, ” “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,
” or “naked assertion[s]” devoid of
“further factual enhancement.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its