United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
H. SHARP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant USA Swimming, Inc.'s
(“USA Swimming”) Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss
for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction. (Docket No. 35).
Petitioner Philip Mark Walker (“Walker”) filed a
Response in Opposition (Docket No. 50) and USA Swimming
replied (Docket No. 54). For the reasons below, the Court
will deny USA Swimming's 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss for
Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction.
Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (“Sports
Act”) was originally enacted in 1978, and it created
the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”). For
each Olympic sport, the Sports Act allows the USOC to
recognize one national governing body. 36 U.S.C. §
220521(a). USA Swimming is the national governing body for
Olympic swimming. (Docket No. 14 at ¶ 2.) As such, USA
Swimming is tasked with a number of duties, including
establishing eligibility requirements for participation in
Olympic swimming, recommending swimmers to represent the
United States in the Olympic Games, and coordinating amateur
swimming competitions in the United States. 36 U.S.C. §
was a member of and coach for USA Swimming with over 30 years
of experience. (Docket No. 14 at ¶ 7). In 2013, USA
Swimming informed Walker that he was the subject of a
complaint alleging Code of Conduct violations.
(Id.). After providing Walker with Notice of the
Complaint, USA Swimming conducted a disciplinary process.
(Id. at ¶ 8). This included a proceeding in
front of USA Swimming's National Board of Review, where
Walker was issued a lifetime ban from membership in USA
Swimming based on the alleged Code of Conduct violations.
(Id. at ¶ 17). The lifetime ban was upheld by
USA Swimming's Board of Directors. (Id.).
the Board of Directors affirmed the National Board of
Review's decision, Walker challenged the decision through
the American Arbitration Association, as the Sports Act
requires of anyone wishing to appeal a USOC or national
governing body decision. (Docket No. 33 at 3-7 & 95-100);
36 U.S.C. § 220529(a) (“A party aggrieved by a
determination of the corporation under section 220527 or
220528 of this title may obtain review by any regional office
of the American Arbitration Association.”). In
Walker's Applications for Relief with the American
Arbitration Association, he requested a temporary injunction
on the publication of his name on USA Swimming's
“banned” list, dismissal of USA Swimming's
lifetime ban, and/or a de novo hearing on the disciplinary
issue. (Docket No. 33 at 6-7 & 99). Walker did not
request any damages. (Id.). The arbitrator affirmed
USA Swimming's imposition of a lifetime ban upon Walker.
(Docket No. 33-2 at 151). No damages were awarded and each
side was ordered to pay their own attorneys' fees and
costs. (Id.). The Sports Act states that the
“[f]inal decision of the arbitrators is binding on the
parties if the award is not inconsistent with the
constitution and bylaws of the corporation.” 36 U.S.C.
subsequently filed an Amended Petition and Complaint to
Vacate Arbitration Award and Complaint for Damages
(“Amended Petition”) with this Court. (Docket No.
14). In the Amended Petition, Walker claims that USA Swimming
and the arbitrator failed to follow a number of USA
Swimming's own rules and regulations throughout the
disciplinary process, including denying him the right to call
witnesses and to conduct discovery. (Id. at
¶¶ 14 & 15). He claims that subject matter
jurisdiction is appropriate under both the Federal
Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and the Sports Act, as
well as through diversity jurisdiction. (Id. at
¶¶ 4 & 5). USA Swimming, in its Motion to
Dismiss, counters that neither statute provides federal
courts with subject matter jurisdiction to review USA
Swimming's disciplinary process in regards to Walker.
(Docket No. 35). USA Swimming further counters that Walker
cannot meet the requirements of diversity jurisdiction.
Swimming's Motion to Dismiss is based upon Rule 12(b)(1)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Sixth Circuit
has summarized the applicable standard of review regarding
12(b)(1) motions as follows:
A Rule 12(b)(1) motion for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction can challenge the sufficiency of the pleading
itself (facial attack) or the factual existence of subject
matter jurisdiction (factual attack). United States v.
Ritchie, 15 F.3d 592, 598 (6th Cir. 1994). A facial
attack goes to the question of whether the plaintiff has
alleged a basis for subject matter jurisdiction, and the
court takes the allegations of the complaint as true for
purposes of Rule 12(b)(1) analysis. Id.
A factual attack challenges the factual existence of subject
matter jurisdiction. In the case of a factual attack, a court
has broad discretion with respect to what evidence to
consider in deciding whether subject matter jurisdiction
exists, including evidence outside of the pleadings, and has
the power to weigh the evidence and determine the effect of
that evidence on the court's authority to hear the case.
Id. Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that
subject matter jurisdiction exists. DLX, Inc. v.
Commonwealth of Kentucky, 381 F.3d 511, 516 (6th Cir.
Cartwright v. Garner, 751 F.3d 752, 759-60 (6th Cir.
2014). USA Swimming's 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss is a
facial attack on the sufficiency of subject matter
jurisdiction. Therefore, the Court takes the allegations in
the Petition as true.