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Houston Nutt v. Ole Miss: Dismissed for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

On July 12, 2017, Houston Nutt (“Nutt”) filed a lawsuit against Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, the University of Mississippi, and the Board of Trustees for Institutions of Higher Learning (collectively “Ole Miss”) alleging Ole Miss breached his separation agreement and breached its obligation of good faith and fair dealing. The focus of Nutt’s claims pertains to various statements purportedly made by former Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze that indicated various NCAA violations are attributable to Nutt, which Nutt claims are false and in violation of the nondisparagement provision of his separation agreement.

In a one page order, on August 9, 2017, United States District Judge Neal B. Biggers, Jr. dismissed Nutt’s case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction is required in every case and must be present to assert a claim. Ole Miss filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction citing that the University of Mississippi and the Board of Trustees for Institutions of Higher Learning are arms of the state of Mississippi and, thus, are not “citizens” for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction. In Nutt’s response, he conceded that Ole Miss’s argument was meritorious and agreed that the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, Nutt’s case was dismissed without prejudice. Being that the case was dismissed without prejudice, Nutt is permitted to refile his claims in state court.

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