Langley v. Jackson State University ( 1994 )


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  •                  United States Court of Appeals,
    
                                Fifth Circuit.
    
                                 No. 92-7461.
    
       Dr. Bettye R. LANGLEY, Plaintiff-Appellee Cross-Appellant,
    
                                      v.
    
     JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY and Dr. Herman Smith, in his Official
    Capacity, Defendants-Appellants Cross-Appellees.
    
                                Feb. 28, 1994.
    
    Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern
    District of Mississippi.
    
    Before DUHÉ and EMILIO M. GARZA, Circuit Judges, and BLACK,*
    District Judge.
    
         EMILIO M. GARZA, Circuit Judge:
    
         Jackson State University ("JSU") appeals the district court's
    
    factual finding that JSU breached the terms and conditions of an
    
    agreement which settled a prior racial discrimination suit brought
    
    by Dr. Bettye R. Langley.    Langley cross-appeals, contending that
    
    the district court improperly allocated the burden of proof in
    
    finding that she failed to prove discrimination based upon her race
    
    or retaliation for bringing a prior discrimination suit.   For the
    
    reasons set forth below, we affirm in part, and vacate and dismiss
    
    in part.
    
                                      I
    
         In 1977, Dr. Langley, a white female, began working at JSU, a
    
    predominately black institution in Jackson, Mississippi, as a
    
    professor of elementary and early childhood education in JSU's
    
         *
          Chief Judge of the Southern District of Texas, sitting by
    designation.
    
                                      1
    School of Education.        In 1986, Dr. Langley filed a discrimination
    
    suit against JSU, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
    
    1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., claiming, inter alia, that she was
    
    being denied the opportunity to conduct a child abuse workshop
    
    because of her race.        A year later, Langley and JSU entered into a
    
    settlement agreement.        The district court, noting that the parties
    
    had stipulated to dismiss the action, ordered that the action be
    
    dismissed with prejudice. The court, however, neither approved nor
    
    incorporated the settlement agreement into its order of dismissal.
    
    The   court    also   did   not   indicate   that   it   intended   to   retain
    
    jurisdiction over future actions brought to enforce the settlement
    
    agreement.1
    
          In 1990, Dr. Langley filed another Title VII suit against JSU,
    
    claiming that JSU had discriminated against her because of her race
    
    and in retaliation for her prior Title VII suit.                Dr. Langley
    
    claimed in particular that Dr. Johnnie Mills, a black female and
    
    academic dean of the School of Education, and Dr. Anita Hall, a
    
    black female and chairperson of Dr. Langley's academic department,
    
    constantly required her to teach an overload, refused to timely pay
    
    her, refused to approve her workshops in accordance with JSU
    
    policy, denied her merit pay increases, refused to provide her with
    
    
          1
           The district court's order of dismissal provided:
    
                  BY STIPULATION of the undersigned representatives for
                  all parties in this action, pursuant to Rule 41 of the
                  Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it is hereby finally
                  ordered, adjudged and decreed that the action is
                  dismissed, with prejudice, with the parties to bear
                  their own costs and attorney fees.
    
                                           2
    office space, furniture and telephone service, assigned her to
    
    double registration duties, and denied her sabbatical leave and
    
    travel expenses, all on account of Dr. Langley's race.                In a
    
    separate action, Dr. Langley further claimed that JSU was violating
    
    the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement regarding the
    
    prior Title VII suit.    The two actions were consolidated before
    
    trial.2
    
         After a six-day bench trial, the district court issued a
    
    memorandum opinion and order, finding that Dr. Langley did not
    
    "sustain[ ] her burden of persuasion to demonstrate that any
    
    treatment she ... received [was] the result of retaliation and/or
    
    discrimination or that she has been subjected to a hostile racial
    
    environment such as would entitle her to relief."            The district
    
    court further found, however, that Dr. Langley was "entitled to
    
    recover   compensation   for   her       work   as   continuing   education
    
    coordinator from and after January 1990 inasmuch as the proof
    
    showed that [JSU] failed to grant her the twenty-five percent
    
    reduction set forth in her settlement agreement with [JSU] for
    
    those services."3
    
         JSU contends on appeal that the district court lacked subject
    
         2
          Dr. Langley did not argue that jurisdiction over the motion
    to enforce the settlement agreement resulted from the fact that
    the breach of the settlement agreement constituted unlawful
    discrimination in violation of Title VII. Instead, Dr. Langley
    argued that because the case which the agreement settled was an
    action arising under Title VII, the district court "retain[ed]
    said [federal subject matter] jurisdiction to enforce the
    settlement agreement."
         3
          The district court did not address jurisdiction over the
    motion to enforce the settlement agreement in its opinion.
    
                                         3
    matter jurisdiction over the action to enforce the settlement
    
    agreement, and that even if the court had jurisdiction, the court
    
    clearly erred in finding that JSU breached the terms and conditions
    
    of the agreement.    In her cross-appeal, Dr. Langley contends that
    
    the district court erred in failing to apply a "motivating factor"
    
    proof methodology4 to her claims of discrimination and retaliation.
    
                                      II
    
                                      A
    
                      Breach of the Settlement Agreement
    
                        1. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
    
             JSU first contends that the district court lacked subject
    
    matter jurisdiction over Dr. Langley's action to enforce the
    
    settlement agreement.5      Citing Fairfax Countywide Citizens v.
    
    Fairfax County, 
    571 F.2d 1299
     (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 
    439 U.S. 1047
    , 
    99 S. Ct. 722
    , 
    58 L. Ed. 2d 706
     (1978), JSU argues that because
    
    the district court failed to approve or incorporate the settlement
    
    agreement into its order of dismissal, the court required some
    
    independent ground upon which to base federal jurisdiction.      In
    
    Fairfax, the district court dismissed a racial discrimination suit
    
    brought under the Equal Protection Clause after the parties had
    
    
         4
          See Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 
    490 U.S. 228
    , 
    109 S. Ct. 1775
    , 
    104 L. Ed. 2d 268
     (1989).
         5
          The consolidation of Dr. Langley's two separate actions did
    not confer subject matter jurisdiction over the action to enforce
    the settlement agreement. Where two actions have been
    consolidated, we must examine "each consolidated case separately
    to determine the jurisdictional premise upon which each stands."
    Kuehne & Nagel (AG & CO) v. Geosource, Inc., 
    874 F.2d 283
    , 287
    (5th Cir.1989).
    
                                      4
    entered into settlement agreements.          See id., 571 F.2d at 1301.
    
    The district court neither approved nor incorporated the settlement
    
    agreements into its dismissal orders.         See id.    Three years later,
    
    plaintiffs moved the district court to vacate its dismissal orders
    
    so that the court could enforce the settlement agreements.             See id.
    
    at 1302.    The Fourth Circuit held that while "a district court has
    
    the authority under Rule 60(b)(6) to vacate its prior dismissal
    
    order and restore the case to its docket," a district court is not
    
    empowered to enforce a settlement agreement "unless the agreement
    
    had been approved and incorporated into an order of the court, or,
    
    at the time the court is requested to enforce the agreement, there
    
    exists     some   independent    ground   upon   which   to   base    federal
    
    jurisdiction."       Id. at 1303;   see also McCall-Bey v. Franzen, 
    777 F.2d 1178
    , 1186-87 (7th Cir.1985) (adopting Fairfax rule) (holding
    
    that "unless jurisdiction is retained [a] settlement agreement
    
    requires an independent basis of federal jurisdiction in order to
    
    be enforceable in federal rather than state court").               But see Aro
    
    Corp. v. Allied Witan Co., 
    531 F.2d 1368
    , 1371 (6th Cir.) (finding
    
    subject matter jurisdiction over a post-dismissal action to enforce
    
    a settlement agreement, by virtue of a district court's "inherent
    
    power to enforce settlement agreements entered into in settlement
    
    of litigation pending before [it]"), cert. denied, 
    429 U.S. 862
    , 
    97 S. Ct. 165
    , 
    50 L. Ed. 2d 140
     (1976).
    
          A federal district court is a court of limited jurisdiction,
    
    and the     burden    of   establishing   jurisdiction   is   on    the   party
    
    claiming it.      See McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298
    
    
                                          
    5 U.S. 178
    , 182-83, 
    56 S. Ct. 780
    , 781-82, 
    80 L. Ed. 1135
     (1936).          Dr.
    
    Langley   argues    that   the   district   court   had    subject   matter
    
    jurisdiction over the action to enforce the settlement agreement on
    
    the following grounds:      (a) her motion to enforce the settlement
    
    agreement is an action arising under Title VII;            and (b) federal
    
    courts have the inherent power to enforce agreements settling
    
    litigation pending before them.        Both grounds are insufficient to
    
    support subject matter jurisdiction.
    
         Dr. Langley cites E.E.O.C. v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 
    714 F.2d 567
     (5th Cir.1983), cert. denied, 
    467 U.S. 1204
    , 
    104 S. Ct. 2384
    , 
    81 L. Ed. 2d 343
     (1984), for the proposition that an action to enforce
    
    an agreement settling a Title VII suit is an action arising under
    
    federal law.       In Safeway, we held that "federal courts have
    
    jurisdiction   over    suits     to   enforce   Title   VII   conciliation
    
    agreements."   Id. at 571-72 (emphasis added).            We reasoned that
    
    "[a]lthough Title VII does not explicitly provide the EEOC with the
    
    authority to seek enforcement of conciliation agreements in federal
    
    court, it would be antithetical to Congress' strong commitment to
    
    the conciliatory process if there were no federal forum in the EEOC
    
    could enforce such agreements."       Id. at 572.   We further noted that
    
    Congress' commitment to the conciliatory process was evidenced by
    
    its creation of the EEOC and establishment of an "administrative
    
    structure whereby the agency "would have an opportunity to settle
    
    disputes through conference, conciliation, and persuasion before
    
    the aggrieved party was permitted to file a lawsuit.' "                Id.
    
    (emphasis added).     In our case, Dr. Langley does not offer, and we
    
    
                                          6
    cannot find, any indication that Congress has established an
    
    administrative structure evidencing its intent to provide a federal
    
    forum for private parties to enforce settlement agreements ending
    
    discrimination      disputes   after       a    lawsuit    has        been   filed.
    
    Consequently, our decision in Safeway is not on point.                   Moreover,
    
    we have found no authority applying the holding in Safeway to
    
    non-administrative settlements of Title VII suits.                    We therefore
    
    reject   Dr.   Langley's    first   basis      for   showing     subject     matter
    
    jurisdiction.
    
         Langley next argues that even if the action to enforce the
    
    settlement agreement was not an action arising under Title VII,
    
    subject matter jurisdiction nevertheless existed because federal
    
    district   courts    have   "the    inherent     power    ...    to    enforce   an
    
    agreement settling litigation pending before the court."                     In re
    
    Corrugated Container Antitrust Litigation, 
    752 F.2d 137
    , 142 (5th
    
    Cir.) (citing Massachusetts Casualty Ins. Co. v. Forman, 
    469 F.2d 259
     (5th Cir.1972);     Cia Anon Venezolana de Navegacion v. Harris,
    
    
    374 F.2d 33
     (5th Cir.1967)), cert. denied, 
    473 U.S. 911
    , 
    105 S. Ct. 3536
    , 
    87 L. Ed. 2d 660
     (1985);        see Aro Corp., 531 F.2d at 1371.             In
    
    Corrugated, the plaintiffs sought to enforce an agreement which had
    
    settled litigation before the district court.                    The plaintiffs
    
    brought the action to enforce the settlement agreement after the
    
    prior suit had been dismissed.             Because the district court had
    
    approved of and incorporated the terms of the settlement agreement
    
    in its consent decree, we had no cause to decide the issue whether
    
    a district court need have federal jurisdiction over an action to
    
    
                                           7
    enforce a settlement agreement independent of the matter settled by
    
    the   agreement,    where    the   agreement   was   neither   approved   nor
    
    incorporated by the court.6         We are presented squarely with that
    
    issue today.
    
              In deciding that issue, we initially note that Dr. Langley's
    
    action to enforce the settlement agreement is tantamount to an
    
    action for "breach of contract remediable under state but not
    
    federal law, and therefore only in state court since the parties
    
    are not of diverse citizenship."           McCall-Bey, 777 F.2d at 1185
    
    (citing Fairfax, 571 F.2d at 1303).             We therefore must decide
    
    whether to accept Dr. Langley's argument that a federal district
    
    court has subject matter jurisdiction over a breach of contract
    
    action "merely by virtue of having had jurisdiction over the case
    
    that was settled."          Id.;   see also Fairfax, 571 F.2d at 1304
    
    (referring to this ground for upholding federal jurisdiction as
    
    "derivative" jurisdiction).         Our resolution of this question is
    
    guided by the Seventh Circuit's persuasive reasoning in McCall-Bey,
    
    where the court stated:
    
          6
          We therefore declined to take sides in the jurisdictional
    debate spawned by Aro Corp. and Fairfax. See Corrugated, 752
    F.2d at 142 ("It is unnecessary for us to approve the result
    reached by the Fourth Circuit [Fairfax ], which may be contrary
    to Fifth Circuit opinions concerning the inherent power of a
    district court to enforce an agreement settling litigation
    pending before the court."). Although the Supreme Court has yet
    to resolve this inter-circuit conflict, it has decided recently
    to review a decision adopting the Aro Corp. view. See Kokkenen
    v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 
    993 F.2d 883
     (9th Cir.1993)
    (holding that a district court's inherent power summarily to
    enforce a settlement agreement concerning an action before it,
    confers subject matter jurisdiction to enforce a post-dismissal
    action to enforce such an agreement), cert. granted, --- U.S. ---
    -, 
    114 S. Ct. 341
    , 
    126 L. Ed. 2d 306
     (1993).
    
                                           8
         If we follow the ascent far enough, countless claims of right
         can be discovered to have their source or their operative
         limits in the provisions of a federal statute or in the
         Constitution itself with its circumambient restrictions upon
         legislative power. To set bounds to the pursuit, the courts
         have formulated the distinction between controversies that are
         basic and those that are collateral.      A dispute over the
         meaning of an agreement is "collateral" for this purpose when
         it is not the kind of dispute that is likely to require for
         its just resolution the special independence, experience, and
         perspective that federal courts may be thought to bring to the
         decision of certain cases. A dispute between residents of the
         same state over the meaning of their contract is not of that
         kind. Such disputes are traditionally, uncontroversially, and
         exclusively with the jurisdiction of state courts.
    
    McCall-Bey, 777 F.2d at 1186 (citation and attribution omitted).
    
    We   further    note   that   Dr.   Langley's   argument    in   favor   of
    
    "derivative" jurisdiction knows no time limit.             As the Seventh
    
    Circuit observed:
    
         If 20 years from now the plaintiff complains that the
         defendants have violated a term of the settlement agreement,
         the judge would, in the plaintiff's view have jurisdiction to
         entertain the complaint—and this regardless of whether the
         district judge intended to retain jurisdiction. No statute
         confers such a jurisdiction and we hesitate to use so formless
         a concept as inherent power to give the federal courts an
         indefinite jurisdiction over disputes in which the federal
         interest may be nonexistent.
    
    Id. at 1187.7    For these reasons, we reject the view espoused by
    
    the Sixth Circuit in Aro, in favor of the position taken by the
    
    Fourth Circuit in Fairfax and by the Seventh Circuit in McCall-Bey.
    
    Accordingly, we hold that once a court dismisses an action with
    
    prejudice because of a settlement agreement, and the agreement is
    
    neither approved of nor incorporated by the court in its decree or
    
    
         7
          We note that over two years passed between the time the
    district court dismissed Dr. Langley's initial Title VII suit and
    Dr. Langley filed her motion to enforce the settlement agreement.
    
    
                                         9
    order and the court does not indicate any intention to retain
    
    jurisdiction,   an    action    to   enforce    the      settlement    agreement
    
    requires federal jurisdiction independent of the action that was
    
    settled.
    
         Although we have speculated that Fairfax may be contrary to
    
    our prior decisions in Massachusetts Casualty and Cia Anon, see
    
    Corrugated, 752 F.2d at 142 & n. 9 (dicta), our reading of those
    
    cases reveals no conflict with the rule we adopt today.                     For
    
    example, in Massachusetts Casualty, the plaintiff sought to enforce
    
    a settlement agreement entered into to end litigation then pending
    
    before the district court.       In other words, unlike the case before
    
    us today, the motion to enforce the settlement agreement was filed
    
    before the district court dismissed the case.              We therefore had no
    
    cause to consider the issue whether jurisdiction existed over the
    
    settlement agreement when we held that "[a] trial court has the
    
    power to summarily enforce a settlement agreement entered into by
    
    litigants while the litigation is pending before it."                  Id., 469
    
    F.2d at 260 (citing Cia Anon, 374 F.2d at 35).             Our prior decisions
    
    in   Massachusetts        Casualty    and     Cia     Anon    are     therefore
    
    distinguishable.     See Fairfax, 571 F.2d at 134 (stating that the
    
    inherent   power     of   a   district      court   to    enforce     settlement
    
    agreements, as set forth in cases such as Massachusetts Casualty
    
    and Cia Anon, "presupposes [rather than confers] ... federal
    
    jurisdiction over the case or controversy").              Accordingly, because
    
    the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the
    
    settlement agreement, we vacate the district court's determination
    
    
                                          10
    that JSU breached the agreement and dismiss Dr. Langley's suit to
    
    enforce the agreement.
    
                                 2. Clear Error
    
         JSU also contends that the district court clearly erred in
    
    finding    that   JSU   breached   the      terms   and   conditions   of   the
    
    settlement agreement.       Because we vacate the district court's
    
    determination that JSU breached the agreement and dismiss Dr.
    
    Langley's suit to enforce the agreement, we need not address
    
    whether the district court's underlying findings of fact were
    
    clearly erroneous.
    
                                           B
    
                                Proof Methodology
    
          In her cross-appeal, Dr. Langley contends that the record
    
    contains direct evidence that racial animus motivated in part the
    
    employment decisions affecting her.            "When a plaintiff presents
    
    credible    direct   evidence   that       discriminatory    animus    in   part
    
    motivated or was a substantial factor in the contested employment
    
    action, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to establish by
    
    a preponderance of the evidence that the same decision would have
    
    been made regardless of the forbidden factor."                 Brown v. East
    
    Mississippi Elec. Power Ass'n, 
    989 F.2d 858
    , 861 (5th Cir.1993)
    
    (citing Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 
    490 U.S. 228
    , 
    109 S. Ct. 1775
    ,
    
    
    104 L. Ed. 2d 268
     (1989)).     Langley argues that the district court's
    
    failure to use the "motivating factor" proof methodology justifies
    
    a remand.
    
         Our thorough review of the record reveals no direct evidence
    
    
                                        11
    that racial animus motivated in part the employment decisions
    
    affecting   Dr.   Langley.     At   most,    the   record   shows   that   Dr.
    
    Langley's supervisors were race-conscious to the extent that some
    
    felt uncomfortable with, and possibly even resented, Dr. Langley's
    
    presence at JSU, an historically black institution.            For example,
    
    Dr. Langley testified that Dr. Hall told her that "she doesn't see
    
    why black students feel that they need to have white advisors" and
    
    that "black people are overlooked at Jackson State to give white
    
    faculty more rights."        Another white faculty member, Dr. Marie
    
    Roos, testified that Dr. Hall had indicated to her that Dr. Hall
    
    would prefer an all-black institution so there would be less
    
    competition between blacks and whites. Although these comments are
    
    indicative of race-consciousness, they do not constitute direct
    
    evidence that discriminatory animus motivated in part any of the
    
    decisions affecting Dr. Langley.           Cf. Young v. City of Houston,
    
    Tex., 
    906 F.2d 177
    , 182 (5th Cir.1990) (holding that an employer's
    
    use of the terms "white tokens" and "white faggots" did not
    
    necessarily constitute direct evidence that racial animus motivated
    
    in part an employment decision).            To shift the burden on the
    
    employer to show by a preponderance of the evidence that it would
    
    have made the same decision even without the forbidden factor, the
    
    employee must show that "the employer actually relied on [the
    
    forbidden factor] in making its decision."           Price Waterhouse, 490
    
    U.S. at 250, 109 S.Ct. at 1791 (emphasis added).                Dr. Langley
    
    failed to make this showing.              Because no direct evidence of
    
    motivating racial animus existed, the district court properly
    
    
                                         12
    refused to apply the "motivating factor" proof methodology to Dr.
    
    Langley's claims.   We therefore reject Dr. Langley's argument and
    
    affirm the district court's findings that she failed to prove
    
    discrimination or retaliation
    
                                    III
    
         For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM the district court's
    
    findings that Langley failed to prove discrimination based upon her
    
    race or retaliation for bringing a prior discrimination suit.
    
    However, because of the lack of subject matter jurisdiction, we
    
    VACATE the district court's determination that JSU breached the
    
    settlement agreement, and DISMISS Dr. Langley's suit to enforce the
    
    agreement.
    
    
    
    
                                    13