United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. 9) filed by Defendants Louisiana
Windows and Doors, L.L.C., Bailey Shivers and Todd Tauzin.
Plaintiff James Lysne filed an opposition. (Doc. 12). For the
following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
9) is DENIED.
case is about unpaid overtime wages. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff
alleges that he worked in a Louisiana Windows and Doors
warehouse earning $1, 500 a week from February 1, 2016 to
August 18, 2017. Id. at ¶ 5-6. Plaintiff claims
that he routinely worked fifty to seventy-five hours per
week, and was not paid overtime as required by the Fair Labor
Standards Act ("FLSA"). Id. at ¶ 8-9.
Plaintiff alleges that Bailey Shivers, a managing member of
Louisiana Windows and Doors decided not to pay
him overtime. Id. at ¶ 11.
Plaintiff also alleges that Todd Tauzin, a member of
Louisiana Windows and Doors, was also directly responsible
for the decision not to pay him overtime. Id. at
¶ 12. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants knowingly and
willfully violated the FLSA to earn higher profits.
Id. at ¶ 14. On November 6, 2017, Plaintiff
sued Defendants under the FLSA. Id. at ¶ 14.
three weeks before filing this action, Plaintiff sued
Louisiana Windows and Doors in the 19th Judicial
District Court, Parish of Easton Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
(Doc. 12-1). In this state court suit, Plaintiff alleged that
as of his last day of work, he had eight days of accrued
vacation time, and that Louisiana Windows and Doors failed to
pay him for these vacation days, as required by Louisiana
law. Id. Plaintiffs state court suit did not include
any allegations about unpaid overtime. Id.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; without
jurisdiction conferred by statute, they lack the power to
adjudicate claims.” In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde
Products Liab. Litig, 668 F.3d 281, 286 (5th Cir. 2012).
Under 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) attack before
addressing any challenge on the merits. Id.
contend that the Court should abstain from exercising
jurisdiction over this case based on the Colorado
River doctrine. (Doc. 9). Colorado River Water
Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800
(1976). Colorado River abstention is a narrow exception to a
federal court's "virtually unflagging" duty to
adjudicate a controversy that is properly before it.
African Methodist Episcopal Church v. Lucien, 756
F.3d 788, 797 (5th Cir. 2014). It "may be applied when:
a state proceeding is ongoing and is parallel to the federal
proceeding; and, extraordinary circumstances caution against
exercising concurrent federal jurisdiction." Air
Evac EMS, Inc. v. Texas, Dep't of Ins., Div. of
Workers' Comp., 851 F.3d 507, 520 (5th Cir. 2017)
(citing Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 817-19). There
are six factors that courts must consider to determine
whether exceptional circumstances warrant abstention.
threshold matter, it is not clear that the state court
lawsuit is even pending because it appears that the parties
settled that case. (Docs. 9-1 at p. 5 and 12 at p. 1). The
Colorado River doctrine applies only when there are
pending parallel proceedings in federal and state
court. Nationstar Mortg. LLC v. Knox, 351 Fed.Appx.
844, 851 (5th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff asserts that the parties
settled the state court suit in November of 2017. (Doc. 12 at
p. 1). Defendants agree that the suit was settled, but
without explanation they assert that "the state court
action is still pending." (Doc. 9-1 at p. 5). Beyond
statements made in their briefs, however, neither party
provided the Court with evidence of a settlement agreement or
evidence that the state court suit was dismissed. Without
more evidence, the Court will assume that the state court
matter is still pending.
determining whether there are pending state and federal
cases, courts must evaluate whether the state and federal
actions are sufficiently parallel. Lucien, 756 F.3d
at 797. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit has held that parallel actions are generally those
"involving the same parties and the same issues, "
although the identity of the parties is not always
dispositive. Id. At bottom, courts must "look
both to the named parties and to the substance of the claims
asserted in each proceeding." Id. (citing
Lumen Const., Inc. v. Brant Const. Co., Inc., 780
F.2d 691, 695 (7th Cir. 1985). The principle underpinning
Colorado River abstention involves
"considerations of [w]ise judicial administration,
giving regard to conservation of judicial resources and
comprehensive disposition of litigation[.]" Colorado
River, 424 U.S. at 817.
Defendants only briefly discuss whether the state and federal
lawsuits are sufficiently parallel. (Doc. 12 at p. 6). They
contend that if the federal suit is not stayed or dismissed
that both courts will be deciding the same legal and
evidentiary issues. Id. On the other hand. Plaintiff
contends that the state and federal actions are not
sufficiently parallel to warrant Colorado River
abstention. (Doc. 12 at p. 2). The Court agrees with
Plaintiff Both lawsuits address entirely distinct legal
issues. In his state suit, Plaintiff seeks to recover for
unpaid vacation time under Louisiana state law. (Doc. 12-1).
By contrast. Plaintiff seeks to recover unpaid overtime in
this federal action based on the FLSA. (Doc. 1).
Additionally, although not dispositive, both suits have
different Defendants. In state court. Plaintiff only sued
Louisiana Windows and Doors. (Doc. 12-1). And here, Plaintiff
sued Louisiana Windows and Doors and Bailey Shivers and Todd
Tauzin. (Doc. 12-1). In sum, whether Plaintiff recovers in
his state lawsuit will have no impact on this suit because
the substance of both suits are entirely different. One
addresses unpaid overtime under the FLSA, and the other
focuses on unpaid vacation time under Louisiana state law.
Therefore, the Court need not invoke Colorado River
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss ...