WILLIAMS v. NEW JERSEY TRANSIT RAIL OPERATION et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Brian R. Martinotti on 9/9/2021. (ld, )
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NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
BARBARA A. WILLIAMS,
NEW JERSEY TRANSIT RAIL
OPERATION, et. al.,
Case No. 2:17-cv-01407 (BRM) (JSA)
MARTINOTTI, DISTRICT JUDGE
Before this Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants New Jersey Transit Rail
Operations (“NJT”) and John Bass (“Bass”) (collectively, “Defendants”) seeking to dismiss pro
se Plaintiff Barbara A. Williams’s (“Williams”) Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 67.) Williams opposed the motion. (ECF
No. 68.) Defendants replied. (ECF No. 69.) Having reviewed the submissions filed in connection
with the motion and having declined to hold oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 78(b), for the reasons set forth below and for good cause appearing, Defendants’ Motion
to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) is GRANTED, and Defendants’
Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is DENIED as moot.
For the purposes of this Motion to Dismiss, the Court “accept[s] as true all factual
allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences from the facts alleged in the light most
favorable to [the plaintiff].” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing
Worldcom, Inc. v. Graphnet, Inc., 343 F.3d 651, 653 (3d Cir. 2003)). The Court also considers any
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“document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint.” In re Burlington Coat Factory
Secs. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing Shaw v. Dig. Equip. Corp., 82 F.3d 1194,
1220 (1st Cir. 1996)).
The factual and procedural backgrounds of this dispute are explained in the Court’s
Opinion dated June 29, 2020 (the “2020 Opinion”) (ECF No. 49), 1 which the Court incorporates
by reference. The dispute stems from the alleged gender discrimination that Williams sustained
during her employment with NJT. (ECF No. 58 ¶¶ 5–12.) The 2020 Opinion dismissed Williams’s
First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 49 at 1.)
On April 21, 2021, Williams filed the Second Amended Complaint, asserting claims under
the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD,” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10-5, et seq.) against
Defendants. (ECF No. 58.) On July 9, 2021, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Second
Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (ECF No.
67), Williams opposed the motion (ECF No. 68), and Defendants replied (ECF No. 69).
“When a motion under Rule 12 is based on more than one ground, the court should consider
the 12(b)(1) challenge first because if it must dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, all other defenses and objections become moot.” Dickerson v. Bank of Am., N.A., Civ.
A. No. 12-3922, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37639, at *2 (D.N.J. Mar. 19, 2013) (quoting In re
Corestates Tr. Fee Litig., 837 F. Supp. 104, 105 (E.D. Pa. 1993)). On a Rule 12(b)(1) challenge,
“[t]he court’s focus must not be on whether the factual allegations would entitle the plaintiff to
relief, but instead should be on whether this Court has jurisdiction to hear the claim and grant
Williams v. N.J. Transit Rail Operations, Civ. A. No. 17-1407, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114138,
2020 WL 3496952 (D.N.J. June 29, 2020).
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relief.” Maertin v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 241 F. Supp. 2d 434, 458 (D.N.J. 2002) (citing
New Hope Books, Inc. v. Farmer, 82 F. Supp. 2d 321, 324 (D.N.J. 2000)).
“A challenge to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may be either a facial or a
factual attack.” Davis v. Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 346 (3d Cir. 2016). A facial attack does not
dispute “the facts alleged in the complaint,” and “requires the court to ‘consider the allegations of
the complaint as true.’” Id. (quoting Petruska v. Gannon Univ., 462 F.3d 294, 302 n.3 (3d Cir.
2006)). “In reviewing a facial attack, the court must only consider the allegations of the complaint
and documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). A factual
attack disputes “the factual allegations underlying the complaint’s assertion of jurisdiction, either
through the filing of an answer or ‘otherwise present[ing] competing facts.’” Davis, 824 F.3d at
346 (quoting Constitution Party of Pa. v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 358 (3d Cir. 2014)). “When a
factual challenge is made, ‘the plaintiff will have the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact
exist,’ and the court ‘is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power
to hear the case,’” and “no presumptive truthfulness attaches to [the] plaintiff’s allegations.” Id.
(quoting Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)). The
submission of “a signed declaration” or “a sworn statement of facts” disputing the non-movant’s
factual allegations constitutes “a factual challenge to subject matter jurisdiction.” Id. (citing Int’l
Ass’n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. Nw. Airlines, Inc., 673 F.2d 700, 711 (3d Cir. 1982)).
Here, Defendants’ challenge on subject matter jurisdiction is a facial attack, because Defendants
do not dispute Williams’ factual allegations in seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1). (See ECF
No. 67-1 at 4–5.)
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Defendants argue the Second Amended Complaint only sets forth claims against
Defendants under the NJLAD and therefore should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. (Id. at 4.)
The Court agrees.
“In order to have subject matter jurisdiction, a District Court must be able to exercise either
diversity jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction.” Haiying Xi v. Shengchun Lu, 226 F. App’x
189, 190 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332). The Second Amended Complaint
does not allege a violation of the United States Constitution or federal law, which means the Court
lacks federal question jurisdiction over this case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. As a result, the Court must
analyze whether it has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
“[I]t is the plaintiff who bears the burden of proving that the federal court has jurisdiction.”
McCracken v. Murphy, 129 F. App’x 701, 702 (3d Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). “[I]n a diversity
action, the plaintiff must state all parties’ citizenships such that the existence of complete diversity
can be confirmed.” Chem. Leaman Tank Lines v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 177 F.3d 210, 222 n.13
(3d Cir. 1999) (citing 5 Wright & Miller § 1208, at 100 (2d ed. 1990)); see also Robinson v. CRS
Facility Servs., LLC, Civ. A. No. 12-2693, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105130, at *4–5 (D.N.J. July
31, 2014) (“Plaintiffs, even when proceeding pro se, must plead the citizenship of the individual
defendants for the court to determine whether complete diversity of the parties in fact exists and
thus whether the court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.” (citations omitted)); Poling v. K.
Hovnanian Enters., 99 F. Supp. 2d 502, 516 (D.N.J. 2000) (“It is the plaintiffs’ burden to
adequately plead diversity jurisdiction [in a diversity case].” (citations omitted)). “Complete
diversity requires that, in cases with multiple plaintiffs or multiple defendants, no plaintiff be a
citizen of the same state as any defendant.” Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412,
419 (3d Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Also, “[a] plaintiff asserting diversity jurisdiction bears the
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burden of demonstrating that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.” In re Paulsboro
Derailment Cases, 704 F. App’x 78, 84 (3d Cir. 2017) (citing Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Stevens &
Ricci Inc., 835 F.3d 388, 395 (3d Cir. 2016)).
Here, Williams makes no showing of the parties’ citizenships, thereby failing to meet her
burden to demonstrate complete diversity. Instead, Williams indicates the addresses of all the
parties are in New Jersey (ECF No. 19 at 2–3), which could only speak against finding complete
diversity. Even if Williams alleges the addresses of the parties to be in different states, it is
insufficient to meet her burden. See Rosario v. Hassan, Civ. A. No. 13-1509, 2013 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 70935, at *6 (D.N.J. May 17, 2013) (“An address or business address is not sufficient to
establish citizenship.”); McNair v. Synapse Grp., Inc., 672 F.3d 213, 219 n.4 (3d Cir. 2012)
(finding that the “[a]ppellants[’] refer[ence] to themselves as ‘residents’ of their respective states,
not as ‘citizens’ or ‘domiciliaries’ of those states,” was “jurisdictionally inadequate in [a] diversity
of citizenship case” (citing Krasnov v. Dinan, 465 F.2d 1298, 1300 (3d Cir. 1972))); Phillip v. Atl.
City Med. Ctr., 861 F. Supp. 2d 459, 469 (D.N.J. 2012) (“[M]erely alleging an address for each
[d]efendant is . . . insufficient to demonstrate a party’s citizenship for diversity purposes.”). Also,
Williams makes no showing of the amount in controversy with Defendants.
Therefore, the Second Amended Complaint must be dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. The dismissal is without prejudice. Talley v. United States, Civ. A. No. 11-1180, 2014
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9075, at *8 (D.N.J. Jan. 24, 2014) (“If a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction,
it must dismiss the case without prejudice.” (citing In re Orthopedic “Bone Screw” Prods. Liab.
Litig., 132 F.3d 152, 155–56 (3d Cir. 1997))); see also Obianyo v. United States Citizenship &
Immig. Servs. Pa., Civ. A. No. 17-1467, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51847, at *6 n.6 (D.N.J. Mar. 25,
2019) (“[B]ecause the [c]ourt has found it does not have subject matter jurisdiction, it is obligated
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to dismiss those claims without prejudice and without a decision on the merits.”); Haagensen v.
Wherry, Civ. A. No. 14-495, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143277, at *13 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 8, 2014) (“A
complaint that lacks subject matter jurisdiction must be dismissed without prejudice, as the court
has no authority to address the merits of the case.” (citations omitted)). Because Defendants
“succeed on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion,” the Court “cannot proceed to analyze [Defendants’] Rule
12(b)(6) motion.” Feuss v. Enica Eng’g, PLLC, Civ. A. No. 20-2034, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
57971, at *4 (D.N.J. Mar. 26, 2021) (citing Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583–
85 (1999)); see also Verify Smart Corp. v. Bank of Am., N.A., Civ. A. No. 14-5117, 2015 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 85056, at *6 (D.N.J. June 30, 2015) (“[The court] does not address [the defendant’s]
dismissal arguments under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to
For the reasons set forth above, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) is GRANTED, and Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is DENIED as moot. Williams’s Second Amended Complaint is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Williams has thirty (30) days to file a Third Amended
Complaint, and failure to do so will turn dismissals without prejudice into dismissals with
prejudice. An appropriate order follows.
Date: September 9, 2021
/s/ Brian R. Martinotti___________
HON. BRIAN R. MARTINOTTI
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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