United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Fidler and Justin Fox brought this action against their
former employer, the Twentieth Judicial District Drug Task
Force (the “Task Force”), alleging violations of
the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et
seq. (Doc. No. 18.) Before the Court is the Task
Force's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 24.) For the following reasons, the
motion is DENIED.
Task Force is a local, intergovernmental agency created
pursuant to an inter-agency agreement, as authorized by
Tennessee Code Annotated § 12-9-104. (Doc. No. 18 at 1.)
A board of directors, appointed by local government
officials, controlled the Task Force. (Id. at 2.)
The District Attorney and the Metropolitan Nashville Police
Department (the “Police Department”) Chief
selected the Director of the Task Force, who was in charge of
day-to-day operations. (Id. at 3.) The District
Attorney provided legal advice and guidance to the Task
Plaintiffs began working for the Task Force, they continued
to receive their salaries from the Metropolitan government.
(Id. at 4.) The Task Force maintained a local bank
account at First Tennessee Bank, funded solely by fines and
civil forfeitures of drug defendants prosecuted by the Task
Force. (Id.) Overtime compensation was to be paid
from this First Tennessee Bank account. (Id. at 5.)
2015, the District Attorney closed the Task Force.
(Id.) As a result, Fidler left law enforcement, and
Fox returned to his role as a patrolman for the Police
Department. (Id.) Fox's paid time off
transferred with him to the Police Department. (Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defendant may assert the affirmative defense of lack of
subject matter jurisdiction in a motion to dismiss.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The party opposing dismissal has the
burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction. Moir v.
Greater Cleveland Reg'l Transit Auth., 895 F.2d 266,
269 (6th Cir. 1990). Specifically, the non-moving party must
show that the complaint “alleges a claim under federal
law, and that the claim is ‘substantial.'”
Musson Theatrical, Inc. v. Fed. Express Corp., 89
F.3d 1244, 1248 (6th Cir. 1996) (holding that a complaint is
“substantial” unless “prior decisions
inescapably render [it] frivolous.”). That is to say,
the non-moving party will survive the motion to dismiss by
showing “any arguable basis in law” for the
claims set forth in the complaint. Id. The Court
construes “the complaint in a light most favorable to
the plaintiff, accept[s] as true all of plaintiff's
well-pleaded factual allegations, and determine[s] whether
the plaintiff can prove no set of facts supporting [his]
claims that would entitle him to relief.” Ludwig v.
Bd. of Trustees of Ferris St. Univ., 123 F.3d 404, 408
(6th Cir. 1997).
Task Force argues that it is entitled to sovereign immunity
under the Eleventh Amendment because it was a state entity.
(Doc. No. 25 at 3 (citing Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S.
706, 712 (1999))). Plaintiffs do not dispute that state
entities are entitled to sovereign immunity, but argue that
the Task Force was a local entity. (Doc. No. 27.)
parties agree that to determine whether the Task Force was a
state entity, the Court must weigh the following four
factors: (1) “the State's potential liability for a
judgment against the entity”; (2) “the language
by which state statutes . . . and state courts . . . refer to
the entity and the degree of state control and veto power
over the entity's actions”; (3) “whether
state or local officials appoint the board members of the
entity”; and (4) “whether the entity's
functions fall within the traditional purview of state or
local government . . . .” Ernst v. Rising, 427
F.3d 351, 359 (6th Cir. 2005).
State's Potential Liability
the allegations in the Complaint as true, the State does not
have potential liability for a judgment against the Task
Force. Rather, the judgment would be paid from the Task
Force's independent bank account. Accord Timberlake
by Timberlake v. Benton, 786 F.Supp. 676, 682 (M.D.
Tenn. 1992) (finding that the 19th Judicial Task Force is a
separate entity from the state). While the Task Force
disputes this (Doc. No. 25 at 4), the dispute raises a
question of fact not appropriate for the Court to resolve on
a motion to dismiss. See Solo v. United Parcel Serv.
Co., 819 F.3d 788, 796 (6th Cir. 2016) (holding that ...