United States District Court, D. New Mexico
Frye and W. Gregory Kelly, Frye and Kelly, P.C., Albuquerque,
New Mexico for Defendant SGI, LLC.
A. Lee, Senior Trial Attorney, Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, Albuquerque Area Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
for Plaintiff EEOC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING FOURTH
KELLY, JR. UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the court on Defendant SGI, LLC's Motion
to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and
Failure to State a Claim filed September 10, 2018. ECF No.
203. Upon consideration thereof, the motion to dismiss is
well taken and should be granted on the basis of a failure to
state a claim, not lack of subject matter
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this
public enforcement action on September 30, 2014 seeking
relief for eight named parties. Compl. (ECF No. 1). The
Complaint alleged that Defendant Roark-Whitten Hospitality 2
(RW2) engaged in unlawful employment practices by creating a
hostile work environment, engaging in discriminatory
practices, and retaliating against employees at a hotel owned
by RW2 in Taos, New Mexico (Taos Hotel). Id. at
¶¶ 77-97. After learning that RW2 sold the Taos
Hotel, the EEOC filed an amended complaint on December 22,
2014, adding as a defendant “the unknown owner and/or
XYZ Company(s)/Corporations.” Am. Compl. at 2 (ECF No.
the EEOC moved to substitute Jai Hanuman LLC “for the
previously unknown XYZ Company(s)/Corporations.”
Pl's Renewed Mot. to Am. Compl. at 1 (ECF No. 52). The
court granted the request, and the EEOC filed its Second
Amended Complaint. ECF No. 87. On December 16, 2016, after
learning that Defendant Jai sold the Taos Hotel to SGI, LLC
(SGI), the EEOC filed its second motion to amend the
complaint to add SGI as a defendant. ECF No. 86. Jai and RW2
opposed the addition of SGI, ECF No. 94, and Jai moved to
dismiss the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). ECF No. 96. The court granted the EEOC's second
motion to amend and denied Jai's motion to dismiss. ECF
September 28, 2017, the EEOC filed its Third Amended
Complaint adding SGI as a party under a theory of successor
liability. ECF No. 179. SGI moved to dismiss the Third
Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 186.
SGI argued that the EEOC failed to plead adequately the
essential elements necessary to establish successor
liability, including that SGI had notice of the lawsuit at
the time it purchased the Taos Hotel. Id. The court
ruled that although the Third Amended Complaint adequately
pled many of the essential elements of successor liability,
it failed to adequately plead that SGI had notice of the
lawsuit at the time it purchased the Taos Hotel. Mem. Op. and
Order at 8-10 (July 30, 2018) (ECF No. 199). While the court
granted SGI's motion to dismiss, it also granted leave to
the EEOC to amend its complaint to cure the notice issue.
Id. at 9-10.
August 13, 2018, the EEOC filed its Fourth Amended Complaint.
ECF No. 201. On September 10, 2018, SGI moved to dismiss the
Fourth Amended Complaint under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction and under Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
The court now considers this motion. ECF No. 203.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
argues that the EEOC failed to adequately allege notice in
connection with successor jurisdiction, Def.'s Mot. to
Dismiss at 2 (ECF No. 203). SGI argues that before
determining successor liability, a court must determine if it
maintains jurisdiction over a Title VII claim. Id.
The EEOC does not address SGI's jurisdictional argument
in its response, but the court concludes that SGI's
argument is foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent. See
Fort Bend Cty. v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 1843, 1850-51 (2019).
argues that Title VII's charge-filing requirement must be
satisfied to confer subject-matter jurisdiction. Def.'s
Mot. to Dismiss at 2-4. According to SGI, because successor
companies are not named in the original EEOC charge, a court
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over successor companies
unless the successor had notice of the Title VII charge and
an opportunity to voluntarily comply with the law.
Id. The Supreme Court recently held that
“Title VII's charge-filing requirement is not of
jurisdictional cast.” Fort Bend Cty., 139
S.Ct. at 1850-51. The Court explained that “federal
courts exercise jurisdiction over Title VII actions pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331's grant of general
federal-question jurisdiction, and Title VII's own
jurisdictional provision, 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(f)(3).” Id. Accordingly, the court
rejects SGI's jurisdictional challenge because it is now
clear that Title VII jurisdiction does not hinge on notice.