Mealer v. Regional Management Corporation et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER re: 5 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject -Matter Jurisdiction. The Court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case. The Court therefore GRANTS Defendants' Motion and DISMISSES without prejudice Plaintiff's suit. (Ordered by Judge Jane J. Boyle on 8/8/2017) (axm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
TRAIVIS MEALER, individually and on
behalf of all others similarly situated,
CORPORATION and REGIONAL
FINANCE CORPORATION OF
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:16-CV-3343-B
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
in the Alternative Motion to Deny Class Certification and Compel Arbitration. Doc. 5 [hereinafter
Defs.’ Mot.]. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motion and DISMISSES
without prejudice Plaintiff’s suit.
This case is about Defendants’ allegedly improper efforts to collect on a debt incurred by
Plaintiff when he took out a payday loan from Defendants in September 2014. Doc. 1, Pl.’s Orig.
Class Action Compl. ¶ 8 [hereinafter Compl.]. Plaintiff claims that Defendants began calling him
The Court draws its factual account from Plaintiff’s Original Class Action Complaint (Doc. 1) as
well as from Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 5). Any contested fact is identified as the allegation of
a particular party.
to collect on the debt in December 2014 and haven’t stopped since. Id. ¶ 10.
Plaintiff maintains that he received a number of calls from Defendants at his place of
employment “despite repeated requests that Defendants cease such calls.” Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff also
claims that Defendants’ employees have gone to his house at least three times attempting to collect
the debt. Id. ¶ 14. And during one of those house calls, Plaintiff says, “Defendants’ employees
knocked on the door in a loud, menacing and violent manner, frightening Plaintiff’s daughter and
grandchildren.” Id. ¶ 15.
On that basis, Plaintiff filed his Original Class Action Complaint (Doc. 1), alleging that
Defendants’ debt collection efforts violated the Texas Debt Collection Practices Act (TDCPA), Tex.
Fin. Code §§ 392.001 et seq. Defendants, in turn, filed the Motion (Doc. 5) at issue here, which
seeks: (1) to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and alternatively (2) to
deny class certification and compel arbitration. Plaintiff then moved for an extension of time to
respond to Defendants’ Motion (Doc. 10), which the Court granted (Doc. 11). Plaintiff had until
January 26, 2017, to file a response. That deadline has long passed yet Plaintiff never responded to
or otherwise contested Defendants’ Motion. Thus, it is ripe for the Court’s review.
“‘Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.’” MacKenzie v. Castro, No. 3:15-cv-0752-D,
2016 WL 3906084, at *2 (N.D. Tex. July 19, 2016) (quoting Stockman v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 138
F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998)). For that reason, they can adjudicate claims only when subject matter
jurisdiction “is expressly conferred by the Constitution and federal statute. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) provides the vehicle through which” a party may challenge that jurisdiction.
Armstrong v. Tygart, 886 F. Supp. 2d 572, 584 (W.D. Tex. 2012) (internal citations omitted).
“A Rule 12(b)(1) motion can mount either a facial or factual challenge.” MacKenzie, 2016
WL 3906084, at *2. A facial challenge occurs “when a party files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion without
including evidence.” Id. A factual challenge, by contrast, occurs when a party supports its Rule
12(b)(1) motion with evidence. Id.
In both cases, the burden of proof “‘is on the party asserting jurisdiction.’” Id. (quoting
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001) (per curiam)). So Plaintiff must prove
jurisdiction exists. Yet that is no high bar: “‘[I]t is extremely difficult to dismiss a claim for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.’” Santerre v. AGIP Petrol. Co., 45 F. Supp. 2d 558, 566 (S.D. Tex. 1999)
(quoting Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell & Assocs., 104 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 1997)).
For a facial challenge, courts consider just “the allegations in the complaint because they are
presumed to be true.” Paterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir. 1981). And if they
sufficiently allege a claim for recovery, then the complaint stands and the court must entertain the
But this is a factual challenge. Plaintiffs enjoy no presumption towards truthfulness here.
Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412–13 (5th Cir. 1981). Instead, they must “prove subject matter
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.” MacKenzie, 2016 WL 3906084, at *2 (citing
Paterson, 644 F.2d at 523). To that end, each party may submit affidavits, testimony, and other
evidentiary materials in support of their positions. Paterson, 644 F.3d at 523.
This is unlike a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Robinson v. Paulson, No. H-064083, 2008 WL 4692392, at *10 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 22, 2008) (citing Garcia, 104 F.3d at 1261)
(explaining that courts “may consider matters outside the pleadings” in the context of Rule 12(b)(1)
“without converting the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment”). On that basis, courts are
given wide discretion “to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts.” Id. So in resolving a factual challenge,
the court, “which does not address the merits of the suit, has significant authority to ‘weigh the
evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case.’” Ellis v. Educ. Comm’n for
Foreign Med. Graduates, No. A. H-14-2126, 2015 WL 3866728, at *2 (S.D. Tex. June 23, 2015)
As referenced, Defendants assert a factual attack on the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction
because they support their Motion with evidence. See, e.g., Doc. 5-1, Def.’s Ex. 1, Note &
Endorsement. Plaintiff thus bears the burden to “prove subject matter jurisdiction by a
preponderance of the evidence.” MacKenzie, 2016 WL 3906084, at *2 (citing Paterson, 644 F.2d at
523). Yet Plaintiff failed to respond to or otherwise contest Defendants’ challenge with briefing or
evidence. Nor did he attach any evidence to his Complaint. See Doc. 1, Compl. So as a threshold
matter, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden and determines that it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over this case.
But even if the Court were to overlook that shortcoming and take the allegations in Plaintiff’s
Complaint as true—which it cannot (see Williamson, 645 F.2d at 412–13)—the Court would still
conclude that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. As mentioned above, Plaintiff asserts a putative
class action against Defendants for violations of Texas law, namely the TDCPA. Doc. 1, Compl.
¶¶ 19–44. With that in mind, Plaintiff says that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Id. ¶ 5.
“CAFA provides the federal district courts with ‘original jurisdiction’ to hear a ‘class action’
if the class has more than 100 members, the parties are minimally diverse, and the ‘matter is
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5,000,000.’” Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 546 U.S.
588, 592 (2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2), (d)(5)(B)); see also Robertson v. Exxon Mobil
Corp., 814 F.3d 236, 239 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted) (“CAFA
expanded federal district courts’ original jurisdiction to include class actions and mass actions in
which there is minimal diversity and the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.”). In
determining whether the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000, Courts must aggregate the
claims of all individual class members. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(6); see also Knowles, 546 U.S. at 592.
As Defendant notes, Plaintiff alleges no amount in controversy, let alone one that exceeds
the sum or value of $5,000,000. Doc. 5, Def.’s Mot. ¶ 6. Nor does Plaintiff allege sufficient facts from
which the Court might extrapolate an estimated amount in controversy. See Bigsby v. Barclays Capital
Real Estate, Inc., 170 F. Supp. 3d 568, 579–80 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) (explaining that failure to “allege a
specific damages amount . . . is not fatal to [a] jurisdictional claim” under CAFA provided the
plaintiff alleges other facts sufficient for the court presume “that the amount-in-controversy
requirement is satisfied”). Instead, Plaintiff generally asserts the following in setting out why he
thinks a class action is merited here:
the size of the individual damages claims for most Class Members is too
small to make individual litigation an economically viable alternative,
such that few Class Members have any interest in individually
controlling the prosecution of a separate claim;
despite the relatively small size of the claims of many individual Class
Members, their aggregate volume, coupled with the economies of scale
inherent in litigating similar claims on a common basis, will enable this
case to be litigated as a class action on a cost effective basis, especially
when compared with repetitive individual litigation;
Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 29.
To be sure, Plaintiff need not necessarily make an express statement that the amount in
controversy exceeds $5,000,000. See Bigsby, 170 F. Supp. 3d at 579–80. But he needed to show more
than he did here. See Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1220 (11th Cir. 2007) (“Whatever
indications of value can be gleaned from plaintiffs’ pleadings are insufficient to support a conclusion
that plaintiffs’ claims were potentially valued at $5,000,000 or more in the aggregate.”); cf. Greco v.
Jones, 992 F. Supp. 2d 693, 700 (N.D. Tex. 2014) (“Because the Court concludes that it is facially
apparent from Plaintiffs’ Petition that the amount in controversy is met as to at least one Plaintiff,
it declines to consider the independent evidence that Defendants provided to further assert this
Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff failed to allege facts sufficient to plausibly meet the
amount in controversy requirement. For that reason—together with Plaintiff’s overall failure to carry
his burden of proof under Rule 12(b)(1)—the Court concludes that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction and GRANTS Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.2
For the above reasons, the Court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this
The Court notes that Defendants assert two additional arguments as to why the Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction as the result of CAFA’s local controversy and home state exceptions. See Doc. 5, Def.’s
Mot. 3–6. Defendants’ arguments on those points are compelling. Yet the Court need not consider them here
because Plaintiff’s jurisdictional allegations are deficient on a more basic threshold level.
case. The Court therefore GRANTS Defendants’ Motion (Doc. 5) and DISMISSES without
prejudice Plaintiff’s suit.3
SIGNED: August 8, 2017.
JANE J. BOYLE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
See Sepulvado v. La. Bd. of Pardons & Parole, 114 F. App’x 620, 622 (5th Cir. 2017) (“Because the
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over [defendant], the claims against [defendant] must be dismissed
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