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Davoodi v. Austin Independent School District

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

June 16, 2014

MOSTAFA DAVOODI, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant - Appellee

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

For MOSTAFA DAVOODI, Plaintiff - Appellant: James J. Sullivan, Icenogle & Sullivan, L.L.P., Austin, TX.

For AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant - Appellee: Jennifer Archimbaud Powell, Eichelbaum Wardell Hansen Powell & Mehl, P.C., Austin, TX.

Before KING, DAVIS, and ELROD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 308

JENNIFER WALKER ELROD, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff-Appellant Mostafa Davoodi appeals the removal of his lawsuit from Texas state court and the dismissal of his entire lawsuit by the district court. We hold that removal from Texas state court was proper. But because the district court gave no notice to Davoodi before its sua sponte dismissal of his state law discriminatory termination claim, we VACATE the dismissal of that claim and REMAND.

I.

Davoodi filed this lawsuit in Texas state court against his former employer, Austin Independent School District (" AISD" ), asserting claims of national origin discrimination, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Attached and " fully incorporated" into his complaint was the Charge of Discrimination (" Charge" ) Davoodi filed with both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) and the Texas Workforce Commission (" TWC" ). The Charge alleged that Davoodi " ha[d] been and continue[d] to be discriminated against, in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended, [and] the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, as amended, because of [his] national origin." Davoodi initially referenced the Charge in the " Facts" section of his complaint, but also referenced the Charge and the EEOC when addressing his claim for retaliation.

Page 309

AISD filed a notice of removal, contending that the district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because at least one of Davoodi's causes of action was created by federal law. Thereafter, AISD filed a partial motion to dismiss, seeking to dismiss all of Davoodi's claims except his claim for discriminatory termination under Texas state law. Davoodi did not respond to the motion.

The district court granted AISD's partial motion to dismiss. The district court then sua sponte dismissed all of Davoodi's claims--including his claim for discriminatory termination under Texas state law--stating that " although [AISD's] motion is titled 'Partial Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim' it appears to the court that all claims raised by Davoodi are dismissed by this Order." Although the district court reviewed AISD's asserted grounds for dismissing Davoodi's other claims, the district court did not explain why it also dismissed Davoodi's state law discriminatory termination claim. Davoodi did not file any post-judgment motions with the district court. This appeal ensued.

II.

On appeal, Davoodi argues that (1) the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because no federal question existed on the face of his complaint, and (2) the district court erred in sua sponte dismissing his claim for discriminatory termination under Texas ...


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