Kaufman et al v. Pacific Maritime Association et al

Filing 36

ORDER by Judge Edward M. Chen Granting 30 31 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate of Service). (emcsec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/12/2013)

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1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 RONNIE KAUFMAN, et al., 9 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 No. C-12-5051 EMC Plaintiffs, v. PACIFIC MARITIME ASSOCIATION, et al., ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS’ FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND WITH LEAVE TO AMEND 12 13 Defendants. ___________________________________/ (Docket Nos. 30, 31) 14 15 16 On February 13, 2013, Plaintiffs Ronnie Kaufman and Alphonce Jackson filed a first 17 amended complaint (“FAC”) against Defendants Pacific Maritime Association (“PMA”), 18 International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“ILWU”), and ILWU Local 34 asserting claims 19 pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (“LMRA”). See Docket No. 28. 20 On February 27, 2013, Defendant PMA filed, and the ILWU Defendants joined, the pending motion 21 to dismiss the FAC pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Docket Nos. 30, 31. 22 For the reasons stated on the record and in this order, Defendants’ motion is hereby GRANTED. 23 The FAC asserts claims pursuant to Section 301 of the LMRA based on an alleged agreement 24 between the Defendants that Plaintiffs claim violates twenty-five provisions of the parties’ collective 25 bargaining agreement (“CBA”). It is established that under Section 301 “[a] union owes a duty of 26 fair representation to those it represents, and an employer must honor the terms of a CBA to which it 27 is a party.” Bliesner v. Commc’n Workers of Am., 464 F.3d 910, 913 (9th Cir. 2006). When these 28 duties are violated, “[a]n aggrieved party may bring a hybrid fair representation/ § 301 suit against 1 the union, the employer, or both.” Id. However, “[i]n order to prevail in any such suit, the plaintiff 2 must show that the union and the employer have both breached their respective duties.” Id. 3 In its order dismissing Plaintiffs’ original complaint, this Court found Plaintiffs’ claims to be 4 facially deficient because Plaintiffs did not allege “how Defendants’ conduct was unlawful nor how 5 such conduct caused them harm.” Order Granting Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss, Docket No. 23, 6 at 2 (citing Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009) (while “a complaint need not 7 contain detailed factual allegations . . . it must plead enough facts to state a claim for relief that is 8 plausible on its face.”)). Although the FAC contains slightly more factual information than the 9 original complaint, the FAC still primarily consists of conclusory statements that the alleged “fraudulent, unwritten agreement” between Defendants PMA and Local 34 violates both PMA’s 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 obligations under the CBA and Local 34’s duty of fair representation. For instance, while a central 12 part of the FAC is based on its critique of the Request Dispatch System, the FAC contains no 13 detailed description of what that system is, how it works, and precisely how it violates the PCCCD. 14 Moreover, without more specific information regarding each of the named Defendants’ wrongful 15 conduct and how it has caused Plaintiffs to suffer harm, the Court cannot determine that Plaintiffs 16 have plausibly stated a claim for either PMA’s breach of the CBA or the ILWU Defendants’ breach 17 of the duty of fair representation. 18 Additionally, Defendants have raised significant questions concerning Plaintiffs’ ability to 19 demonstrate that their claims are timely and that they have complied with the exclusive grievance 20 procedure set forth in the CBA. Causes of action under Section 301 are subject to a six-month 21 statute of limitations, which “accrues when the plaintiff knew, or should have known, of the 22 defendant’s wrongdoing and can successfully maintain a suit in district court.” Allen v. United Food 23 & Commercial Workers Int’l Union, 43 F.3d 424, 426-27 (9th Cir. 1994). At the hearing on the 24 present motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants’ illegal agreement has been in place 25 since 1985. Although Plaintiffs contend that the violations alleged in the FAC are continuous and 26 ongoing, the Court recognizes that the Ninth Circuit has rejected a continuing violations theory for 27 hybrid claims under Section 301. See Harper v. San Diego Transit Corp., 764 F.2d 663 (9th Cir. 28 1985). 2 1 Further, the Court notes that the FAC contains no allegations regarding Plaintiffs’ 2 compliance or attempted compliance with the mandatory, exclusive grievance procedure set forth in 3 Section 17 of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement. “As a general rule, members of a 4 collective bargaining unit must first exhaust contractual grievance procedures before bringing an 5 action for breach of the collective bargaining agreement.” Carr v. Pac. Mar. Ass’n, 904 F.2d 1313, 6 1317 (9th Cir. 1990). “This requirement applies with equal force to claims brought against a union 7 for breach of the duty of fair representation.” Id. However, there are two situations in which a 8 union’s breach of the duty of fair representation excuses the exhaustion requirement. Id. at 1319. 9 First, exhaustion is not required “where the union has sole power under the contract to invoke the higher stages of the grievance procedure, and if the employee-plaintiff has been prevented from 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 exhausting his contractual remedies by the union’s wrongful refusal to process the grievance.” Id. 12 (emphasis in original) (citations omitted). Second, “where grievants allege a breach of duty of fair 13 representation with regard to negotiating the collective bargaining agreement” exhaustion of 14 contractual grievance procedures may not be required. Id. (citations omitted). 15 Since the FAC contains no allegations demonstrating that Plaintiffs have exhausted the 16 CBA’s grievance procedure or that there is a legal basis for their failure to do so, the FAC fails to 17 demonstrate that Plaintiffs have valid claims for relief. In order to assert Section 301 claims against 18 the Defendants in this case, Plaintiffs must allege that they either followed the grievance procedure 19 established by the CBA before filing the present action or that there is a legal basis for their failure 20 to exhaust this process. See DelCostello v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 163-64 (1983) 21 (“Ordinarily, however, an employee is required to attempt to exhaust any grievance or arbitration 22 remedies provided in the collective bargaining agreement.”); see also Lopez v. HMS Host, Inc., No. 23 09-04930 SI, 2010 WL 199716, at *6-7 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2010) (“To state a claim under Section 24 301 of the LMRA, plaintiff must adequately plead exhaustion of the grievance procedures set forth 25 in the CBA.”). 26 Thus, the Court DISMISSES Plaintiffs’ first amended complaint without prejudice and with 27 leave to amend. Plaintiffs will have forty-five (45) days from the date of this order in which to file 28 an amended complaint. Plaintiffs are advised that failure to cure the deficiencies identified in this 3 1 order will result in dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. For Plaintiffs’ benefit, the Court 2 directs their attention to the Handbook for Pro Se Litigants, which is available along with further 3 information for the parties on the Court’s website located at http://cand.uscourts.gov/proselitigants. 4 Plaintiffs may also contact the Legal Help Center, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 15th Floor, Room 5 2796, Telephone No. (415) 782-9000 extension 8657, for free legal advice regarding their claims. 6 The Case Management Conference set for April 25, 2013, is hereby rescheduled to August 1, 2013 7 at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 5, 17th Floor, U.S. District Court, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San 8 Francisco, California. 9 This order disposes of Docket Nos. 30 and 31. 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. 12 13 Dated: April 12, 2013 14 _________________________ EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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