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Lewis v. Office of Parish Attorney

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

February 25, 2015

BRAIN LEWIS
v.
OFFICE OF PARISH ATTORNEY, MRS. GWEN BROWN

AMENDED ORDER

JOHN W. deGRAVELLES, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). (Doc. 10.) Plaintiff has not filed an Opposition to this Motion. Oral argument is not necessary.

Considering the law and facts pled, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 10.)

I. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; without jurisdiction conferred by statute, they lack the power to adjudicate claims. In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig ., 668 F.3d 281, 286-287 (5th Cir.2012) (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am ., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994); Stockman v. FEC, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir.1998), Hall v. Louisiana, 12 F.Supp. 3d 878 (M.D. La. 2014).) Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(1), a claim is "properly dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate" the claim. Id. (quoting Home Builders Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir.1998).) A court should consider a Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack before addressing any attack on the merits. Id . (citing Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir.2001), cert. denied, 536 U.S. 960, 122 S.Ct. 2665, 153 L.Ed.2d 839 (2002)). Considering a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss first "prevents a court without jurisdiction from prematurely dismissing a case with prejudice." Id . (citing Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161).

"A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is analyzed under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)." Hall v. Louisiana, 974 F.Supp.2d 978, 985 (M.D. La. 2013) (citing Benton v. United States, 960 F.2d 19, 21 (5th Cir. 1992)). However, in Walch v. Adjutant General's Dep't of Texas, 533 F.3d 289, 293 (5th Cir. 2008), the Fifth Circuit explained an important distinction between the two motions:

The choice of rules does hold the potential, however, to affect the materials in the record that may be considered when conducting our review. The Rule 12(b)(6) analysis is generally confined to a review of the complaint and its proper attachments, Fin. Acquisition Partners v. Blackwell, 440 F.3d 278, 286 (5th Cir.2006), while under Rule 12(b)(1), the court may consider any of the following: (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 court's resolution of disputed facts. Robinson v. TCI/US West Communications Inc., 117 F.3d 900, 904 (5th Cir.1997).
Walch v. Adjutant General's Dep't of Texas, 533 F.3d 289, 293 (5th Cir. 2008).

Furthermore, "[t]he 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." Hall v. Louisiana, 974 F.Supp.2d 978, 986 (M.D. La. 2013) (citing Celestine v. TransWood, Inc., 467 Fed.Appx. 317, 318 (5th Cir.2012)) (citations and internal quotations omitted).

In Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), the Supreme Court explained:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'
Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).

Interpreting Rule 8(a) and Twombly, the Fifth Circuit explained:

The complaint (1) on its face (2) must contain enough factual matter (taken as true) (3) to raise a reasonable hope or expectation (4) that discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of a claim. "Asking for [such] plausible grounds to infer [the element of a claim] does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal [that the elements of the claim existed]."
Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 257 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965) (emphasis added).

Later, in In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. LLC., 624 F.3d 201, 210 (5th Cir. 2010), the Fifth Circuit explained:

To avoid dismissal [under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)], "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). To be plausible, the complaint's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955. In deciding whether the complaint states a valid claim for relief, we accept all well-pleaded facts as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. [ Doe v. Myspace, 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008)] (citing [ Hughes v. Tobacco Inst., Inc ., 278, 278 F.3d 417, 420 (5th Cir. 2001)]). We do not accept as true "conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions." Ferrer v. Chevron Corp ., 484 F.3d 776, 780 (5th Cir.2007) (quoting Plotkin v. IP Axess Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir.2005)); see also Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1940 ("While legal conclusions can provide the complaint's framework, they must be supported by factual allegations.").
Id. at 215.

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