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Robin v. City of Frisco

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

January 4, 2018




         Pending before the Court is Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. #57). Having considered the relevant pleadings and motion, the Court finds the motion should be granted.


         This suit arises out of Plaintiff Janna Robin's employment (and ultimate termination) as a detention officer for Defendant, the City of Frisco, Texas (the “City”). On June 22, 2016, Plaintiff sued Defendants in state court alleging race and gender discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation in violation of state and federal law. On August 3, 2016, Defendants removed this action based upon federal question jurisdiction (Dkt. #1). On September 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Dkt. #11).

         On April 5, 2017, the Court issued an Order denying Defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. #23).[1] On November 15, 2017, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order (the “Order”) granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #49). The Court granted Defendants' motion as to all of Plaintiff's claims except her claims for (1) Title VII retaliation, (2) § 1981 and § 1983 retaliation against Defendant Smith in her individual capacity for issuing the PIP and negative performance review, (3) civil conspiracy, (4) aiding and abetting, and (5) declaratory and injunctive relief.

         On November 27, 2017, Defendants filed this Motion to Dismiss, seeking to dismiss Plaintiff's conspiracy and aiding-and-abetting claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (Dkt. #57). On December 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a response (Dkt. #59). On December 14, 2017, Defendants filed a reply (Dkt. #63). On December 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a sur-reply (Dkt. #65).


         “Governmental immunity exists to protect the State and its political subdivisions from lawsuits and liability for money damages and defeats a court's subject matter jurisdiction.” Quinn v. Guerrero, 2016 WL 4529959, at *1 (E.D. Tex. Aug. 9, 2016), report and recommendation adopted, 2016 WL 4508227 (E.D. Tex. Aug. 28, 2016), aff'd, 863 F.3d 353 (5th Cir. 2017). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal of a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the district court lacks statutory and constitutional power to adjudicate the case. Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). If a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with other Rule 12 motions, the Court will consider the jurisdictional attack under Rule 12(b)(1) before addressing any attack on the legal merits. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001).

         In deciding the motion, the Court may consider “(1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by the undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the [C]ourt's resolution of disputed facts.” Lane v. Halliburton, 529 F.3d 548, 557 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Barrera-Montenegro v. United States, 74 F.3d 657, 659 (5th Cir. 1996)). The Court will accept as true all well-pleaded allegations set forth in the complaint and construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Truman v. United States, 26 F.3d 592, 594 (5th Cir. 1994). Once a defendant files a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) and challenges jurisdiction, the party invoking jurisdiction has the burden to establish subject matter jurisdiction. See Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 613 F.2d 507, 511 (5th Cir. 1980). The Court will grant a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction only if it appears certain that the claimant cannot prove a plausible set of facts to support a claim that would entitle it to relief. Lane, 529 F.3d at 557.


         As a preliminary matter, at the Final Pretrial Conference held on December 15, 2017, Plaintiff's counsel raised the issue that the Court's Order on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment was unclear as to whether her state law workplace retaliation claims survived. The Court's Order denied Defendants' summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claim for Title VII retaliation (Dkt. #49 at p. 14-20). To clarify, the Court finds denial of summary judgement is proper as to Plaintiff's state law retaliation claims because the City is not entitled to governmental immunity.

         The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (“TCHRA”) was enacted by the Texas Legislature in 1993 and amended in 1995. Among its objectives are to:

(1) provide for the execution of the policies of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its subsequent amendments; . . .
(4) secure for persons in this state, including persons with disabilities, freedom from discrimination in certain employment transactions, in order to ...

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