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Arnold v. Oglesby

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 22, 2017

EDWARD RONNY ARNOLD
v.
BOB OGLESBY, ET AL.

          Session October 4, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 17C133 Thomas W. Brothers, Judge No. M2017-00808-COA-R3-CV

         A former state employee filed suit claiming that he should have been paid for the state holiday on November 27, 2015, because he worked on October 12, 2015, the day from which the holiday was shifted pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-4-105(a)(3). His position was terminated before the November 27, 2015 holiday occurred. The general sessions and circuit courts granted the Department of General Services Commissioner's motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity. We reverse.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Reversed

          Edward Ronny Arnold, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General, and Taylor William Jenkins, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bob Oglesby.

          Andy D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Richard H. Dinkins, J., joined.

          OPINION

          ANDY D. BENNETT, JUDGE.

         The manner in which this court must consider the facts of this case is governed by the standard of review. Our Supreme Court has explained that:

A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction falls within the purview of Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(1). Challenges to a court's subject matter jurisdiction call into question the court's "lawful authority to adjudicate a controversy brought before it, " Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000), and, therefore, should be viewed as a threshold inquiry. Schmidt v. Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, 2008-CA-00416- SCT (¶ 13), 18 So.3d 814, 821 (Miss. 2009). Whenever subject matter jurisdiction is challenged, the burden is on the plaintiff to demonstrate that the court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim. See Staats v. McKinnon, 206 S.W.3d 532, 543 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006); 1 Lawrence A. Pivnick, Tennessee Circuit Court Practice § 3:2 (2011 ed.) ("Pivnick").
Litigants may take issue with a court's subject matter jurisdiction using either a facial challenge or a factual challenge. See, e.g., Schutte v. Johnson, 337 S.W.3d 767, 769-70 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2010); Staats v. McKinnon, 206 S.W.3d at 542. A facial challenge is a challenge to the complaint itself. See Schutte v. Johnson, 337 S.W.3d at 769. Thus, when a defendant asserts a facial challenge to a court's subject matter jurisdiction, the factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint are presumed to be true. See, e.g., Staats v. McKinnon, 206 S.W.3d at 542-43.
Alternatively, "[a] factual challenge denies that the court actually has subject matter jurisdiction as a matter of fact even though the complaint alleges facts tending to show jurisdiction." Staats v. McKinnon, 206 S.W.3d at 543. Thus, the factual challenge "attacks the facts serving as the basis for jurisdiction." Schutte v. Johnson, 337 S.W.3d at 770.

Redwing v. Catholic Bishop for Diocese of Memphis, 363 S.W.3d 436, 445-46 (Tenn. 2012) (footnotes omitted). "'Since a determination of whether subject matter jurisdiction exists is a question of law, our standard of review is de novo, without a presumption of correctness.'" Chapman v. DaVita, Inc., 380 S.W.3d 710, 712-13 (Tenn. 2012) (quoting Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000)).

         In the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction filed in the circuit court by the defendant, Department of General Services Commissioner Bob Oglesby, there is no challenge as to Mr. Arnold's factual assertions in the complaint. Rather, the Commissioner chose to rely on sovereign immunity. We consider this a facial challenge to subject matter jurisdiction and, therefore, the factual allegations in Mr. Arnold's complaint are taken as true. In addition, in a facial attack, the court must construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the nonmoving ...


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