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Texas Roadhouse, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

March 3, 2015



JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a motion by Defendant, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to dismiss the case pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. [DN 6] Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision.


Plaintiffs, Texas Roadhouse, Inc., Texas Roadhouse Holdings, LLC, and Texas Roadhouse Management Corp., d/b/a Texas Roadhouse ("Texas Roadhouse"), filed four separate Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") requests with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") stemming from an age discrimination investigation of Texas Roadhouse by the EEOC. The first three FOIA requests were filed on July 14, 2014, July 25, 2014, and August 25, 2014, requesting: (1) an accounting of all funds spent by the EEOC investigating and litigating EEOC v. Texas Roadhouse, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 11-cv-11732 (D. Mass. 2011); (2) all EEOC files related to any age-based discrimination investigations, charges, or complaints since January 1, 2007, involving Texas Roadhouse; and (3) all documents showing instances where current or former commissioners, employees, agents, lawyers, or other representatives of the EEOC made any public statements involving Texas Roadhouse. On September 30, 2014, Texas Roadhouse filed this declaratory judgment action under FOIA, 5 U.S.C ยง 522, alleging that the EEOC failed to issue a determination on Texas Roadhouse's three initial FOIA requests and failed to produce documents responsive to those requests within the required statutory time frame. On October 9, 2014, the EEOC issued determinations as to FOIA Requests 1 through 3 and produced some of the requested records.

On October 30, 2014, Texas Roadhouse submitted a fourth FOIA request seeking all records related to the EEOC's use of testers, its involvement in the MCAD Testers Project, salaries for all individuals who assisted in the investigation and the litigation against Texas Roadhouse, and records relating to the EEOC's hiring practices. By letter dated October 30, 2014, the EEOC acknowledged receipt of the fourth FOIA request, assigned it an administrative number, and stated that it would issue a determination by December 1, 2014. On November 5, 2014, the EEOC sent Plaintiffs a letter informing them that it would be unable to respond to Plaintiffs' request during the statutory time frame and offered Plaintiffs the opportunity to narrow the scope of the request. Texas Roadhouse represents that it declined to do so. The EEOC maintains that on November 26, 2014, it sent another letter to Plaintiffs estimating the cost associated with searching for responsive documents to the un-narrowed requests at over $24, 500.00 and advised Plaintiffs that the EEOC would not process the request further until Plaintiffs notified it that they were willing to pay the fees incurred. On December 5, 2014, Texas Roadhouse represents that it still had not received the EEOC's determination about its fourth request and, as a result, amended its complaint to assert a claim against the EEOC.

The EEOC moves to dismiss the amended complaint, or in the alternative, for summary judgment arguing that (1) Plaintiffs' claims as to the first three FOIA requests are moot because the EEOC has issued determinations on them, (2) Plaintiffs must administratively exhaust its challenge to the adequacy of the EEOC's production of documents even where the production of documents occurs during litigation, and (3) Plaintiffs failed to comply with the EEOC's fee requirements related to the fourth FOIA request.


A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides that a party may file a motion asserting "lack of subject-matter jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). "Subject matter jurisdiction is always a threshold determination, " American Telecom Co., L.L.C. v. Republic of Lebanon, 501 F.3d 534, 537 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 101 (1998)), and "may be raised at any stage in the proceedings, " Schultz v. General R.V. Center, 512 F.3d 754, 756 (6th Cir. 2008). "A Rule 12(b)(1) motion can either attack the claim of jurisdiction on its face, in which case all allegations of the plaintiff must be considered as true, or it can attack the factual basis for jurisdiction, in which case the trial court must weigh the evidence and the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists." DLX, Inc. v. Kentucky, 381 F.3d 511, 516 (6th Cir. 2004). "A facial attack on the subject-matter jurisdiction alleged in the complaint questions merely the sufficiency of the pleading." Gentek Bldg. Products, Inc. v. Sherwin-Williams Co., 491 F.3d 320, 330 (6th Cir. 2007). "If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

B. Summary Judgment

Before the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and of identifying that portion of the record which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

Although the Court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party is required to do more than simply show there is some "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The rule requires the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence... of a genuine dispute[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.


A. Exhaustion of ...

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