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Date: 03-14-2023

Case Style:

Carmen A. Spears v. Nanaki, L..C., d/b/a Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kinder

Case Number: 2:21-cv-3788

Judge: James D. Cain

Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (St. Henry Parish)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Lake Charles, Louisiana civil rights lawyers represented Plaintiff, who sued Defendant on a job discrimination theory.

Western District of Louisiana Federal Courthouses

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Plaintiff-Appellant Carmen Spears has alleged that DefendantAppellee Nanaki LLC d/b/a Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kinder

(“Nanaki”), upon learning that she was pregnant, terminated her
employment, or otherwise revoked its job offer, in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In response to Spears’ complaint, Nanaki filed
a motion to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, asserting that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because
Nanaki did not have the fifteen employees required by Title VII, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e(b). The district court agreed, treating § 2000e(b)’s numerical
threshold as a jurisdictional requirement rather than a substantive element of
Spears’ Title VII claim.

In Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500 (2006), however, the
Supreme Court held that the numerosity requirement in § 2000e(b) is not
jurisdictional. Despite Nanaki’s criticism of that ruling, it stands. See Juino
v. Livingston Parish Fire Dist. No. 5, 717 F.3d 431, 433 n.1 (5th Cir. 2013)
(under Arbaugh, district court erred in treating motion as a jurisdictional,
rather than evidentiary, challenge). Indeed, the Supreme Court has
employed the same approach in evaluating other statutory requirements.
See, e.g., Reed v. Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 559 U.S. 154, 161–69 (2010)
(employing Arbaugh analysis in concluding that 17 U.S.C. § 411(a)’s
registration requirement does not restrict subject matter jurisdiction). We
have done the same. See,e.g., Biziko v. Van Horne, 981 F.3d 418, 421 (5th Cir.
2020) (utilizing Arbaugh analysis in concluding that enterprise element of 29
U.S.C. § 203(s)(1)(A) is nonjurisdictional); Gulf Restoration Network v.
Salazar, 683 F.3d 158, 172–74 (5th Cir. 2010) (utilizing Arbaugh analysis in
concluding that 43 U.S.C. § 1349(c)(3)(A) is nonjurisdictional). Thus, the
district court erred in its Rule 12 (b)(1) jurisdictional assessment.

Nanaki’s motion also seeks dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). Dismissal
under Rule 12(b)(6) is warranted if the complaint does not 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, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In evaluating motions to dismiss filed
under Rule 12(b)(6), the court “must accept all well-pleaded facts as true,
and . . . view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Campbell v.
Case: 22-30460 Document: 00516676047 Page: 2 Date Filed: 03/14/2023
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 781 F.2d 440, 442 (5th. Cir. 1986). Further, “[a]ll
questions of fact and any ambiguities in the controlling substantive law must
be resolved in the plaintiff’s favor.” Lewis v. Fresne, 252 F.3d 352, 357 (5th
Cir. 2001). In determining whether a plaintiff’s claims survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, the factual information to which the court addresses its
inquiry is limited to (1) the facts set forth in the complaint, (2) documents
attached to or incorporated by reference in the complaint, and (3) matters of
which judicial notice may be taken under Federal Rule of Evidence 201. See
Norris v. Hurst Trust, 500 F.3d 454, 461, n. 9 (5th Cir. 2007); R2 Invs. LDC
v. Phillips, 401 F.3d 638, 640, n. 2 (5th Cir. 2005).1

Here, Spears’ complaint alleges, on information and belief, that
Nanaki has employed fifteen employees for the requisite period of time.
However, because the district court concluded that dismissal under Rule
12(b)(1) for lack of jurisdiction was appropriate, it did not evaluate the merit
of Nanaki’s motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Thus, that assessment
will be necessary on remand.

Outcome: Having concluded that the district court improperly dismissed
Plaintiff-Appellant Carmen Spears’ Title VII claims for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, we REVERSE the district court’s May 23, 2022 judgment of
dismissal and REMAND this matter for further proceedings consistent with
this opinion.

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