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Scroggins v. Lifepoint Health

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

February 7, 2017

MARILYN R. SCROGGINS, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
LIFEPOINT HEALTH, a corporation, Defendant.



         Before the court is Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Doc. # 16), which was converted to a motion for summary judgment (Doc. #18). Plaintiff responded in opposition (Doc. # 21), and Defendant replied. (Doc. # 22). Having considered the motion, the court concludes that it is due to be denied.


         The court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)(A). The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue.


         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenges the district court's subject matter jurisdiction and takes one of two forms: a “facial attack” or a “factual attack.” A “facial attack” on the complaint “require[s] the court merely to look and see if the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis of subject matter jurisdiction, and the allegations in his complaint are taken as true for the purposes of the motion.” Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). In contrast, “factual attacks” challenge “the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, irrespective of the pleadings, and matters outside the pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits, are considered.” Id.

         These two forms of attack are significantly different. When an attack is facial, “a plaintiff is afforded safeguards similar to those provided in opposing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion-the court must consider the allegations in the complaint to be true.” Id. However, on a factual attack,

the trial court may proceed as it never could have under 12(b)(6) or Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Because at issue in a factual 12(b)(1) motion is the trial court's jurisdiction-its very power to hear the case- there is substantial authority that the trial court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. In short, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to the plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of the jurisdictional claims.

Id. (quoting Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412-13 (5th Cir. 1981)[1]). In this case, the defendant's attack is factual. (Doc. # 16 at 5.)

         However, despite the less deferential standard that typically applies to a factual attack, a different standard applies when the defendant's attack also implicates an element of the cause of action. In such cases,

the proper cause of action for the district court . . . is to find that jurisdiction exists and deal with the objections as a direct attack on the merits of the plaintiff's case. . . . This refusal to treat indirect attacks on the merits as Rule 12(b)(1) motions provides, moreover, a greater level of protection to the plaintiff who in truth is facing a challenge to the validity of his claim: the defendant is forced to proceed under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . or Rule 56 . . . both of which place great restrictions on the district court's discretion.

Id. (quoting Williamson, 645 F.2d at 415-16).

         B. Summary Judgment

         To succeed on summary judgment, the movant must demonstrate “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[T]he court must view the evidence and the inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.” Jean-Baptiste v. Gutierrez, 627 F.3d 816, 820 (11th Cir. 2010).

         The party moving for summary judgment “always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for the motion.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). This responsibility includes identifying the portions of the record illustrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Id. Alternatively, a movant who does not have a trial burden of production can assert, without citing the record, that the nonmoving party “cannot produce admissible evidence to support” a material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 advisory committee's note (“Subdivision (c)(1)(B) recognizes that a party need not always point to specific record materials. . . . [A] party who does not have the trial burden of production may rely on a showing that a party who does have the trial burden cannot produce admissible evidence to carry its burden as to the fact.”).

         If the movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish-with evidence beyond the pleadings-that a genuine dispute material to each of its claims for relief exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence allowing a reasonable fact finder to return a verdict in its favor. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001). On the other hand, “[i]f the evidence is merely colorable ...

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