Lazarou v. Mississippi State University et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION re 111 Order on Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Glen H. Davidson on 4/16/12. (mhg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
GEORGIOS Y. LAZAROU, Ph.D.
CIVIL ACTION NO.1 :07-cv-Ob060-GHD-DAS
MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY AND
BOARD OF TRUSTEES, INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING
Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss on the grounds of Eleventh
Amendment immunity . Upon due consideration, the Court finds the motion should be
A. Factual and Procedural Background
Plaintiff Georgios Y. Lazarou, Ph.D. ("Plaintiff') is a proclaimed Cypress native whose
primary language is Greek.
Plaintiff is a former non-tenured,
Mississippi State University ("MSU"). Plaintiff was denied tenure and subsequently resigned
from his position at MSU. Plaintiff then filed an EEOC charge. Upon receipt of his right to sue
letter, Plaintiff initiated this suit against Defendants MSU and the Board of Trustees, Institutions
of Higher Learning ("Defendants"), claiming he was unlawfully denied tenure and discriminated
against due to his race and national origin in violation of federal and state law. Plaintiff asserts a
Title VII claim and a supplemental state law breach of contract claim for injunctive relief.
On April 8, 2008, Plaintiff moved to stay the case or hold the case in abeyance and/or for
continuance  for six months based on Plaintiff s purported illness and clinical depression,
which rendered him unable to proceed at that time with the litigation. Accordingly, the Court
stayed the case until mid-October of 2008. Subsequently, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss
 pursuant to Rules 12(b)(l) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court
stayed the case pending the resolution of this motion.
B. Legal Standards
"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; without jurisdictibn conferred by
statute, they lack the power to adjudicate claims." In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods.
Liab. Litig., 668 F.3d 281, 286 (5th Cir. 2012) (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. ofAm.,
511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S. Ct. 1673, 128 L. Ed. 2d 391 (1994); Stockman 'v. Fed. Election
Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998)). A claim is "properly dismissed fdr lack of subjectmatter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate" the
claim. Home Builders Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 101Q (5th Cir. 1998)
(internal citation omitted).
The court must address a Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional challenge
before addressing a challenge on the merits. Ramming v. United States, 281 F;3d 158, 161 (5th
Cir.2001). Addressing Rule 12(b)(l) challenges first "prevents a court without jurisdiction from
prematurely dismissing a case with prejudice." !d.
"[A] factual attack under Rule 12(b)(l) may occur at any stage of the proceedings, and
plaintiff bears the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist." Arena 'v. Graybar Elec.
Co., Inc., 669 F.3d 214, 223 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit. Corp., 613
F.2d 507,511 (5th Cir. 1980) (citations omitted)). In such a consideration, the
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