Pleading, Discovery, and Pretrial Motion Practice (excluding Motions in Limine)

Dismiss, Motion to (on Subject Matter Jurisdiction)

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.

Opinions of the Tennessee Supreme Court

New v. Dumitrache, No. W2017-00776-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. June 29, 2020).

This appeal requires us to determine whether the chancery court had subject matter jurisdiction to consider Father’s Petition and Writ of Error. These are questions of law to which de novo review applies. Johnson v. Hopkins, 432 S.W.3d 840, 844 (Tenn. 2013) (citation omitted).

 

Ken Smith Auto Parts v. Thomas, No. E2018-00928-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Apr. 17, 2020).

This appeal requires us to consider subject matter jurisdiction and to interpret Tennessee Code Annotated sections 27-5-106(a) and -107. Issues involving subject matter jurisdiction and statutory interpretation both present questions of law that are subject to de novo review without a presumption of correctness in the decision of the courts below. Coffee Cnty. Bd. of Educ. v. City of Tullahoma, 574 S.W.3d 832, 838 (Tenn. 2019); see also Cox v. Lucas, 576 S.W.3d 356, 359 (Tenn. 2019) (quoting Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000)).

 

Minyard v Lucas, No. E2017-02261-SC-R11-CV, 576 S.W.3d 351, 355 (Tenn. 2019).

Subject matter jurisdiction refers to a court’s lawful authority to adjudicate a controversy. Chapman v. DaVita, Inc., 380 S.W.3d 710, 712–13 (Tenn. 2012). Subject matter jurisdiction is conferred and defined by the Tennessee Constitution and statutes. Id. (citing Kane v. Kane, 547 S.W.2d 559, 560 (Tenn. 1977); Computer Shoppe, Inc. v. State, 780 S.W.2d 729, 734 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989)). “[W]hether subject matter jurisdiction exists is a question of law, [so] our standard of review is de novo….” Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000).

   Editor’s Note: Same language used in Cox v. Lucas, No. E2017-02264-SC-R11-CV, 576 S.W.3d 356, 359 (Tenn. 2019).

 

Opinions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

Brock v. Eick, No. E2023-00021-COA-R3-CV, p. 5-6 (Tenn. Ct App. Oct. 27, 2023). 

As our Supreme Court has previously explained concerning dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction:

Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(1) governs a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction involves a court’s lawful authority to adjudicate a controversy brought before it. See Meighan v. U.S. Sprint Commc’ns Co., 924 S.W.2d 632, 639 (Tenn. 1996); Standard Sur. & Cas. Co. v. Sloan, 180 Tenn. 220, 173 S.W.2d 436, 440 (1943). Subject matter jurisdiction depends on the nature of the cause of action and the relief sought, see Landers v. Jones, 872 S.W.2d 674, 675 (Tenn. 1994), and can only be conferred on a court by the constitution or a legislative act. See Kane v. Kane, 547 S.W.2d 559, 560 (Tenn. 1977); Computer Shoppe, Inc. v. State, 780 S.W.2d 729, 734 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989). Where subject matter jurisdiction is challenged under Rule 12.02(1), the party asserting that subject matter jurisdiction exists . . . has the burden of proof. See Redwing v. Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of Memphis, 363 S.W.3d 436, 445 (Tenn. 2012) (citing Staats v. McKinnon, 206 S.W.3d 532, 543 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006)). “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.” Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000).

Chapman v. DaVita, Inc., 380 S.W.3d 710, 712-13 (Tenn. 2012).

Balch v. Cilley, No. M2022-01100-COA-R3-JV (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 20, 2023).

“Whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction over a case is a question of law that we review de novo with no presumption of correctness.” Morgan Keegan & Co., Inc. v. Smythe, 401 S.W.3d 595, 602 (Tenn. 2013) (citing Word v. Metro Air Servs., Inc., 377 S.W.3d 671, 674 (Tenn. 2012)).

Rutan-Ram v. Tennessee Dept. of Children’s Services, No. M2022-00998-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 24, 2023). 

The issue of whether the court has subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law, which we review de novo with no presumption of correctness. Chapman v. DaVita, Inc., 380 S.W.3d 710, 712-13 (Tenn. 2012); Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000). In ruling on a facial challenge to the court’s subject matter jurisdiction, the court considers only the pleadings. Webb v. Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity, Inc., 346 S.W.3d 422, 426 (Tenn. 2011); Midwestern Gas Transmission Co. v. Dunn, No. M2005-00824-COA-R3-CV, 2006 WL 464113, at *12 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 24, 2006). The factual allegations of the complaint are to be taken as true and are viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Webb, 346 S.W.3d at 426. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the court has jurisdiction over the claims. Midwestern Gas, 2006 WL 464113, at *13.

Waters v. Tennessee Department of Corrections, No. M2022-00316-COA-R3-CV, p. 7 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 11, 2023).

Subject matter jurisdiction presents a question of law that this court reviews de novo without a presumption of correctness. Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000).

Thompson v. Thompson, No. E2022-00345-COA-R3-CV, p. 3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 30, 2023). 

The question of whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law in which our review is de novo with no presumption of correctness as to the ruling of the lower court. Button v. Waite, 208 S.W.3d 366, 369 (Tenn. 2006) (citing State v. Cawood, 134 S.W.3d 159, 163 (Tenn. 2004)).

Sampson v. Aircraft Maintenance, Inc., No. M2021-01277-COA-R3-CV, p. 9 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 12, 2023). 

Whether jurisdiction exists is a question of law that is reviewed de novo. Minyard v. Lucas, 576 S.W.3d 351, 355 (Tenn. 2019); Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000).

Phillips v. Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund, No. E2022-00296-COA-R3-CV, p. 4 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 2, 2022).

The Tennessee Supreme Court has explained the standard of review applicable to such motions:

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.) . . . .

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). As noted above, in its motion to dismiss, CFPPF does not challenge the facts set out in Mr. Phillips’ petition; rather, it asserts that the petition was not filed within sixty days of entry of the Board’s final decision, as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-9-102. As such, we consider this a facial challenge to the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction, and the determination of whether the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law, which we review de novo, with no presumption of correctness. Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000).

State of Tennessee ex rel. Tulis v. Lee, Governor of Tennessee, No. E2021-00436-COA-R3-CV, p. 14 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 24, 2022).

As to a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(1) motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, our Supreme Court has explained:

A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction falls under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(1). The concept of subject matter jurisdiction involves a court’s lawful authority to adjudicate a controversy brought before it. See Meighan v. U.S. Sprint Communications Co., 924 S.W.2d 632, 639 (Tenn. 1996); Standard Sur. & Casualty Co. v. Sloan, 180 Tenn. 220, 230, 173 S.W.2d 436, 440 (1943). Subject matter jurisdiction involves the nature of the cause of action and the relief sought, see Landers v. Jones, 872 S.W.2d 674, 675 (Tenn. 1994), and can only be conferred on a court by constitutional or legislative act. See Kane v. Kane, 547 S.W.2d 559, 560 (Tenn. 1977); Computer Shoppe, Inc. v. State, 780 S.W.2d 729, 734 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989). 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. See Nelson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 8 S.W.3d 625, 628 (Tenn. 1999).

Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000).

 

Town of Monterey, Tennessee v. The Garden Inn, LLC, No. M2020-01511-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 24, 2022).

“[S]ubject matter jurisdiction involves a court’s lawful authority to adjudicate a controversy brought before it.” Chapman v. DaVita, Inc., 380 S.W.3d 710, 712 (Tenn. 2012) (citing Meighan v. U.S. Sprint Commc’ns Co., 924 S.W.2d 632, 639 (Tenn. 1996); Standard Sur. & Cas. Co. of New York v. Sloan, 173 S.W.2d 436, 440 (Tenn. 1943)). “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.” Id. at 712–13 (quoting Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000))

 

Lowery v. Redmond, No. W2021-00611-COA-R3-CV, p.  3 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 23, 2022).

“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) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

 

Killian v. Moore, No. M2020-01283-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 15, 2022).

When the issue of subject matter jurisdiction is raised, we first determine the nature of the case and then ascertain whether the Tennessee Constitution, the Tennessee General Assembly, or the common law have conferred on the court the power to adjudicate the case before it. Staats v. McKinnon, 206 S.W.3d 532, 542 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006). Whether a court has jurisdiction is a question of law, and thus, on appeal, the issue is reviewed de novo with no presumption of the correctness of the ruling of the lower court. Button v. Waite, 208 S.W.3d 366, 369 (Tenn. 2006).

 

The City of Cleveland v. The Health Services and Development Agency, State of Tennessee,  No. M2021-00396-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 27, 2022).

In addition, in Northland Ins. Co. v. State, 33 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Tenn. 2000), our Supreme Court set forth the standard of review applicable to motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The High Court stated: A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction falls under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(1). The concept of subject matter jurisdiction involves a court’s lawful authority to adjudicate a controversy brought before it. Subject matter jurisdiction involves the nature of the cause of action and the relief sought, and can only be conferred on a court by constitutional or legislative act. 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. Northland Ins. Co., 33 S.W.3d at 729 (internal citations omitted).

License

Grading Papers - Civil Copyright © 2023 by BirdDog Law, LLC (No copyright claimed as to government works).. All Rights Reserved.