United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the court on defendants' motions to
dismiss and plaintiffs motions for default judgment. The
matters have been fully briefed and are ripe for ruling. This
Court denies plaintiffs motions for default judgment, and
grants defendants' motions to dismiss.
on April 14, 2014, plaintiff Lesia Hamm was employed by
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., in their headquarters in Florida.
There, she claims, she experienced discrimination. She filed
a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,
alleging discrimination on the basis of race, on May 23,
2015. After her termination on August 18, 2015, she filed a
second complaint, claiming that she experienced retaliation
for her original complaint. Plaintiff then j filed this
lawsuit here in North Carolina on June 21, 2017, alleging
discrimination on the basis of race and age, as well as
captioned her case as follows: she sued BI-LO, LLC,
"doing business as" Bi-Lo Supermarkets, Inc, and
Stokesdale Bi-Lo, Inc. She sued Winn-Dixie Logistics, LLC,
"doing business as" Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
Finally, she sued Southeastern Grocers.
has moved for default against defendant Southeastern Grocers
and defendant BI-LO, LLC. Plaintiff also moved for default
against defendant Winn-Dixie Logistics, LLC, but has since
withdrawn that motion. The law disfavors default judgments.
Colleton Preparatory Academy, Inc. v. Hoover Universal,
Inc., 616 F.3d 413, 417 (4th Cir. 2010). The strong
preference is for claims and defenses to be disposed of on
their merits. Tazco, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers
Comp. Program, U.S. Dep't of Labor, 895 F.2d 949,
950 (4th Cir. 1990). Under the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, default judgements are permitted when a defendant
fails to plead or otherwise defend themselves. Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). Both Southeastern Grocers and BI-LO have appeared and
filed motions in this case. Entry of default judgement would
be inappropriate and is therefore denied.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for dismissal when a
Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). A plaintiff bears the burden of showing that
subject matter jurisdiction exists. Adams v. Bain,
697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). A lack of subject matter
jurisdiction may be raised at any time, by any party, as well
as by this Court. Mansfield, C. & L.M. Ry Co. v.
Swan, 111 U.S. 379 (1884). Plaintiff has failed to
demonstrate that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction
over this case.
has sued three defendants: Southeastern Grocers, BI-LO, LLC,
and Winn-Dixie Logistics, LLC. Southeastern Grocers is a
Delaware limited liability company. Its principal place of
business is in Florida. It is the parent of several
subsidiary corporations, including BI-LO, LLC and Winn-Dixie
Stores, Inc. Southeastern Grocers did not employ plaintiff.;
BI-LO, LLC is not affiliated with either Bi-Lo Supermarkets
or Stokesdale Bi-Lo. BI-LO, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Southeastern Grocers. BI-LO's headquarters are in
Florida, and it does some business in North Carolina. BI-LO
did not employ plaintiff.
Logistics is a separate subsidiary of Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
Both are registered in Florida. Winn-Dixie Logistics does do
business in North Carolina, but did not employ the plaintiff.
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., did employ the plaintiff, but was
not actually named in this lawsuit.
interaction of corporate parents and siblings can be complex,
but the law is clear. Absent specific circumstances,
employees of one corporate entity are not considered
employees of its parent, and certainly not of a separate
subsidiary. See Johnson v. Flowers Indus., Inc., 814
F.2d 978, 980-82 (4th Cir. 1987) "A parent company is
the employer of a subsidiary's personnel only if it
controls the subsidiary's employment decisions or so
completely dominates the subsidiary that the two corporations
are the same entity." Id. Plaintiffs complaint
does not allege facts to sustain a claim that any of the
parent or subsidiary companies she sued control the actions
of her employing company such that the two are the same
entity. Winn-Dixie Logistics, LLC does share a registered
agent in Florida with BI-LO, LLC, but that fact, like the
history of Kwik Check Supermarkets, Inc., says nothing
relevant about Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., a completely
different company and plaintiffs actual employer.
has made no claims that would explain why she has sued
companies that did not employ her while not suing the company
that did. Only Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., employed her, and she
did not file suit against them. Without the proper defendant,
this Court does not have jurisdiction over the claims.
See Drake v. Cheney,960 F.2d 145 (4th Cir. 1992).
Instead of j amending her complaint or otherwise alleging
specific facts to justify her position, plaintiff simply
argues, repeatedly, that "all ...