IQBAL v. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
OPINION AND ORDER regarding 16 Defendants Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Texas Labor Code Claims. (Signed by Judge Micaela Alvarez) Parties notified.(kanelson, 7)
Case 7:21-cv-00081 Document 17 Filed on 11/16/21 in TXSD Page 1 of 4
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
November 16, 2021
Nathan Ochsner, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. 7:21-cv-00081
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE §
OPINION AND ORDER
The Court now considers “Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Texas Labor Code
Claims.”1 Plaintiff has not filed a response and the time for doing so has passed, rendering
Defendant’s motion unopposed by operation of this Court’s Local Rule. 2 After considering the
motion, record, and relevant authorities, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s motion.
This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff Samir Iqbal alleges that he was
employed as Defendant University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s (UTRGV’s) chair of its electrical
engineering department and is the only “professor of the South Asian race, Pakistan national origin
and Muslim religion in the department.”3 Plaintiff alleges that, beginning in 2018, UTRGV hired
a new provost who began to play favorites, resulting in discrimination on the basis of protected
class against Plaintiff such as restrictions on funding not imposed on any other professor in the
department.4 Plaintiff alleges that he filed a formal charge of discrimination with the federal Equal
Dkt. No. 16.
LR7.4 (“Failure to [timely] respond to a motion will be taken as a representation of no opposition.”).
3 Dkt. No. 1 at 2, ¶ 5.
4 Id. at 2–3, ¶¶ 6–7.
Case 7:21-cv-00081 Document 17 Filed on 11/16/21 in TXSD Page 2 of 4
Employment Opportunity Commission on December 16, 2019, and filed his complaint on March
4, 2021, within ninety days of his receipt of a “notice of right to sue with respect to that charge of
discrimination.”5 Plaintiff brings two claims for actionable employment discrimination, one under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and one under the Texas Labor Code. 6
Defendant now moves to dismiss only Plaintiff’s Texas Labor Code claim pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).7 However, as a threshold matter, the Court notes that
Defendant’s motion lacks numbered paragraphs entirely, hindering the Court’s reference to
Defendant’s arguments. The Court cautions Defendant that future submissions should consistently
number each paragraph to properly comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 8 In any
case, Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendant’s motion within the twenty-one days allowed by
Local Rule 7.4.A, so Defendant’s motion is unopposed pursuant to Local Rule 7.4. The Court turns
to its analysis.
II. D ISCUSSION
a. Legal Standard
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) permits motions to dismiss for “lack of subjectmatter jurisdiction.” It is a “well-settled principle that litigants can never consent to federal subject
matter jurisdiction, and the lack of subject matter jurisdiction is a defense that cannot be waived.” 9
Therefore, the Court must address 12(b)(1) motions and “find jurisdiction before determining the
Id. at 5, ¶ 11.
Id. at 6, ¶¶ 13–14.
7 Dkt. No. 16 at 1.
8 FED. R. CIV. P. 7(b)(2) (“The rules governing captions and other matters of form in pleadings apply to motions a nd
other papers.”); FED. R. CIV. P. 10(b) (emphasis added) (“A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered
paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.”).
9 Gonzalez v. Guilbot, 255 F. App’x 770, 771 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Coury v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 248 (5th Cir.1996 ));
see 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
Case 7:21-cv-00081 Document 17 Filed on 11/16/21 in TXSD Page 3 of 4
validity of a claim,”10 which is a rule “inflexible and without exception.”11 “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,”12 because federal courts only have
jurisdiction to decide controversies as conferred by the United States Constitution or by statute. 13
While the Court has jurisdiction to determine its jurisdiction, 14 it cannot exercise any “judicia l
action” other than dismissal when the Court lacks jurisdiction. 15 If any party attacks the Court’s
jurisdiction, “the party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of proof on a 12(b)(1) motion to
dismiss.”16 In assessing the Court’s jurisdiction, “the district court is to accept as true the
allegations and facts set forth in the complaint,”17 and may “dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction on any one of three separate bases: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by
undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.”18 Accordingly, the Court may
consider evidence outside the pleadings to determine subject matter jurisdiction. 19 Ultimately, “[a]
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should be granted only if it appears certain
that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle plaintiff to
Moran v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 27 F.3d 169, 172 (5th Cir. 1994) (quotation omitted).
Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 577 (1999) (quotation omitted).
12 In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prod. Liab. Litig., 668 F.3d 281, 286 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Home Builders
Ass'n v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir.1998)).
13 Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
14 United States v. Ruiz, 536 U.S. 622, 628 (2002) (“[I]t is familiar law that a federal court always has jurisdiction to
determine its own jurisdiction.”).
15 Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998).
16 Life Partners Inc. v. United States, 650 F.3d 1026, 1029 (5th Cir. 2011).
17 Choice Inc. of Tex. v. Greenstein, 691 F.3d 710, 714 (5th Cir. 2012).
18 Id. (quoting Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981)).
19 Williams v. Wynne, 533 F.3d 360, 365 n.2 (5th Cir. 2008); Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir.
20 Choice Inc. of Tex., 691 F.3d at 714 (quoting Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161).
Case 7:21-cv-00081 Document 17 Filed on 11/16/21 in TXSD Page 4 of 4
Defendant UTRGV argues that, as a state agency, Plaintiff’s state law claims against it are
barred by the Eleventh Amendment and sovereign immunity. 21 The United States Supreme Court
held that, “in the absence of consent[,] a suit in which the State or one of its agencies or departments
is named as the defendant is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment. ”22 Eleventh Amendment
immunity bars all relief except “prospective injunctive relief against a state officer acting in his
official capacity based on an alleged ongoing violation of the Constitution.”23 Defendant UTRGV
asserts, and this Court agrees, that it is a state agency entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. 24
The Texas Labor Code does not waive or abrogate Defendant’s immunity.25 Supplementa l
jurisdiction does not waive or abrogate Defendant’s immunity. 26
For the foregoing reasons, and in the absence of any opposition, the Court agrees that
Defendant UTRGV is entitled to Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity against Plaintiff’s
Texas Labor Code claim. The Court therefore GRANTS Defendant’s motion to dismiss.27 The
Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate Plaintiff’s Texas Labor Code claim. Plaintiff’s claim against
Defendant under the Texas Labor Code28 is DISMISSED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DONE at McAllen, Texas, this 16th day of November 2021.
United States District Judge
Dkt. No. 16 at 4–5, §§ A–B.
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984).
23 Wetherbe v. Texas Tech Univ. Sys., 699 F. App'x 297, 302 (5th Cir. 2017) (per curiam).
24 Dkt. No. 16 at 4, § A (first citing Alcantara v. Univ. of Hous., No. 4:14-cv-463, 2016 WL 4040123, at *2 (S.D.
Tex. July 28, 2016) (Atlas, J.) (collecting cases); then citing Hencerling v. Tex. A&M Univ., 986 S.W.2d 373, 374
(Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1999, pet. denied) (“State universities are agencies of the State and enjoy sovereign
immunity.”); and then citing Duncan v. Univ. of Tex. Health Sci. Ctr. at Hous., 469 F. App'x 364, 366 (5th Cir.
2012) (per curiam) (“As a public university, UTHealth enjoys the state's sovereign immunity .”)).
25 See Hernandez v. Tex. Dep't of Hum. Servs., 91 F. App'x 934, 935 (5th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (citing Perez v.
Region 20 Educ. Serv. Ctr., 307 F.3d 318, 332 (5th Cir. 2002)); Swanson v. R.R. Comm'n of Tex., No. 2:11-cv-80,
2011 WL 2039601, at *4 (S.D. Tex. May 24, 2011) (Jack, J.)).
26 Hernandez, 91 F. App’x at 935 & n.3 (citing Raygor v. Regents of Univ. of Minn., 534 U.S. 533, 541–42 (2002)).
27 Dkt. No. 16.
28 Dkt. No. 1 at 6, ¶ 14.
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