Civardi v. General Dynamics Corp et al

Filing 46

ORDER granting 25 the Defendants General Dynamics Corporations and Electric Boat Corporations Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. Signed by Judge Alvin W. Thompson on 3/24/2009. (Jones, S.)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT -----------------------------------x MICHAEL CIVARDI, : : Plaintiff, : : v. : : GENERAL DYNAMICS CORP.; ELECTRIC : BOAT CORP.; METAL TRADES DEPT. : AFL-CIO a/k/a METAL TRADES COUNCIL : OF NEW LONDON COUNTY; OFFICE AND : PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES LOCAL 106, : AFL-CIO, a/k/a OPEIU 106; ROBERT S.: MANNING; and ROBERT D. MANNING, : : Defendants. : -----------------------------------x Civil No. 3:08CV00433(AWT) R U L I N G ON MOTION TO DISMISS F o r the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss filed b y General Dynamics Corporation and Electric Boat Corporation is b e i n g granted. I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS F o r the purposes of deciding this motion, the court takes as t r u e the following allegations in the Complaint. P l a i n t i f f Michael Civardi was employed by Electric Boat C o r p o r a t i o n ("Electric Boat") beginning in 1985. During the c o u r s e of his employment, he was a member of the Metal Trades D e p t . AFL-CIO and the Office and Professional Employees AFL-CIO, a / k / a OPEIU 106. Electric Boat had a collective bargaining a g r e e m e n t with the members of the union that governed the terms a n d conditions of the plaintiff's employment. The plaintiff alleges that he was "unlawfully, wrongfully, w i t h o u t just cause and in bad faith" discharged from his position o n March 3, 2006. (Compl. 9.) Electric Boat terminated the p l a i n t i f f ' s employment for violating its rules and regulations, b a s e d on allegations made by Allyn Wright, one of the plaintiff's c o -w o rk e rs . Wright had filed a complaint with Electric Boat, and a f t e r an investigation, the plaintiff was discharged from his e m pl o ym e nt . P u r s u a n t to the grievance procedure outlined in the C o l l e c t i v e Bargaining Agreement ("CBA"), an arbitration hearing w a s held. After the completion of the arbitration, the arbitrator u p h e l d Electric Boat's decision to terminate the plaintiff's e m pl o ym e nt . Under Article 6, 2 of the CBA, which provides for mandatory g r i e v a n c e and arbitration procedures, disciplinary grievances s h a l l be evaluated according to a standard of "just cause." A r t . VI, 2). In this action, the plaintiff brings claims against General D y n a m i c s and Electric Boat for wrongful discharge (First Count), b r e a c h of contract (Second Count), breach of the implied covenant o f good faith and fair dealing (Third Count), negligent s u p e r v i s i o n (Fourth Count), intentional infliction of emotional d i s t r e s s (Seventh Count) and negligent infliction of emotional d i s t r e s s (Eighth Count). He also brings claims against his union (CBA, f o r failing to provide him with proper representation at the -2- g r i e v a n c e hearing. I I . LEGAL STANDARD W h e n deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the c o u r t must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint a n d must draw inferences in a light most favorable to the p l ai n ti f f. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). Although a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, a p l a i n t i f f ' s obligation to provide the `grounds' of his ` e n t i t l e [ m e n t ] to relief' requires more than labels and c o n c l u s i o n s , and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause o f action will not do." S . C t . 1955, 1965 (2007). Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 127 "Factual allegations must be enough to r a i s e a right to relief above the speculative level, on the a s s u m p t i o n that all allegations in the complaint are true (even if d o u b t f u l in fact)." Id. (citations omitted). The plaintiff must p l e a d "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is p l a u s i b l e on its face." Id. at 1974. "The function of a motion t o dismiss is `merely to assess the legal feasibility of the c o m p l a i n t , not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be o f f e r e d in support thereof.'" Mytych v. May Dept. Store Co., 34 F . Supp. 2d 130, 131 (D. Conn. 1999), quoting Ryder Energy D i s t r i b u t i o n v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 ( 2 d Cir. 1984). "The issue on a motion to dismiss is not whether t h e plaintiff will prevail, but whether the plaintiff is entitled -3- t o offer evidence to support his claims." United States v. Yale N e w Haven Hosp., 727 F. Supp 784, 786 (D. Conn. 1990) (citing S c h e u e r , 416 U.S. at 232). In its review of a motion to dismiss f o r failure to state a claim, the court may consider "only the f a c t s alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or i n c o r p o r a t e d by reference in the pleadings and matters of which j u d i c i a l notice may be taken." Samuels v. Air Transport Local 504, 9 9 2 F.2d 12, 15 (2d Cir. 1993). III. DISCUSSION G e n e r a l Dynamics and Electric Boat argue that the plaintiff's c l a i m s against them are preempted by the Labor Management R e l a t i o n s Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. 185 ("Section 301"), and, in a d d i t i o n , are time-barred under the six-month limitations period e s t a b l i s h e d under Section 10(b) of the National Labor Relations A c t ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. 160(b) ("Section 10(b)"). a g re e s. "[W]hen resolution of a state-law claim is substantially d e p e n d e n t upon analysis of the terms of an agreement made between t h e parties in a labor contract, that claim must either be treated a s a 301 claim, or dismissed as pre-empted by federal laborc o n t r a c t law." Allis-Chalmers Corp. V. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 220 The legal framework under The court ( 1 9 8 5 ) (internal citation omitted). w h i c h the defendants' preemption argument should be analyzed was s u m m a r i z e d by the court in Wilhelm v. Sunrise Northeast, Inc., 923 -4- F . Supp. 330 (D. Conn. 1995). Section 301 of the LMRA confers subject m a tt e r jurisdiction over suits alleging v i o l a t i on s of the collective bargaining a g r e e m e n t . Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, I n c . , 486 U.S. 399, 108 S.Ct. 1877, 100 L.Ed.2d 4 1 0 (1988), referring to Teamster's v. Lucas F l o u r Co., 369 U.S. 95, 82 S.Ct. 571, 7 L.Ed.2d 5 9 3 (1962). In enacting 301, Congress i n t e n d e d that uniform federal labor law would p r ev a il over inconsistent, state-specific r u l e s . Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 2 0 2 , 209-10, 105 S.Ct. 1904, 1910-11, 85 L . E d . 2 d 206 (1984). As a result, disputes over t h e meaning to be given a contract term and the c o n s e q u e n c e s of a breach of contract must be r e s o l v e d according to uniform federal law. I d . , at 211, 105 S.Ct. at 1911. When resolution of a state-law claim depends u p o n interpretation of a collective bargaining a g r e e m e n t , the claim must either be treated as a 301 claim or dismissed as preempted by f e d e r a l labor-contract law. Allis-Chalmers, 471 U . S . at 221, 105 S.Ct. at 1916; Lingle, 486 U . S . at 405-06, 108 S.Ct. at 1881. But if a s t at e -l a w claim can be resolved without i n te r pr e ti n g the collective bargaining a g r e e m e n t , the claim is "independent" of the a g r e e m e n t and is not preempted by 301. L i n g l e , 486 U.S. at 405-06, 108 S.Ct. at 1881. A plaintiff's claims must be tested by "whether the claims exist independent of any r i g h t s established by the contract . . . ." Id. at 334-35. I n addition, the Supreme Court has ruled that the appropriate statute of limitations for "hybrid" actions, i.e., cases involving both claims against the employer under Section 301 and claims against the union for breach of the duty of fair representation, is six months. See DelCostello v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 163-71 (1983); see also -5- W e l y c z k o v. U.S. Air, Inc., 733 F.2d 239, 241 (2d Cir. 1984) ( " [ W ] e adopt for this circuit the rule that in employment t e r m i n a t i o n cases, a six-month statute of limitations applies both r e t r o a c t i v e l y and prospectively to wrongful discharge/failure to r e p r e s e n t claims."). Under DelCostello, a plaintiff must file his s u i t within six months from the date upon which his "cause[] of a c t i o n accrued." See DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 172. The plaintiff does not dispute that he was an employee c o v e r e d by the CBA at all times relevant to the Complaint and was a member of the union during the entire course of his employment. The plaintiff alleges that he was "unlawfully, wrongfully, without j u s t cause and in bad faith" discharged. The CBA only allows for (See CBA, t h e termination of union employees for "just cause." A r t . VI, 2.) The CBA establishes a grievance and arbitration p r o c e d u r e to resolve disputes over employee terminations and other m a tt e rs . As a result, resolution of the plaintiff's wrongful d i s c h a r g e claim is dependent on interpretation of the CBA because a n y limitation on Electric Boat's right to terminate the p l a i n t i f f ' s employment would arise from the CBA and depend upon t h e meaning and interpretation of the "just cause" provision. Therefore, this claim does not exist independent of any rights e s t a b l i s h e d by the CBA and is preempted by Section 301 of the L M RA . Similarly, the plaintiff's breach of contract claim is based -6- d i r e c t l y on the CBA, specifically the sections that speak to d i s c i p l i n e and discharge of employees and the "just cause" s t a n d a r d that must be satisfied before the termination of a union m e m b e r ' s employment. The plaintiff attempts to plead his claim as o n e for breach by General Dynamics and Electric Boat of the " E m p l o y e e Handbook." However, the harm complained of by the p l a i n t i f f is the termination of his employment, and the CBA e s t a b l i s h e d the grievance and arbitration procedure to resolve d i s p u t e s over employee terminations. Because the plaintiff's b r e a c h of contract claim cannot be resolved without interpretation o f the CBA, it is also preempted by Section 301 of the LMRA. A s to the claim for breach of the implied covenant of good f a i t h and fair dealing, any implied obligation would be implied b a s e d on the terms of the CBA. [I]t is axiomatic that the . . . duty of good f a i t h and fair dealing is a covenant implied i n t o a contract or a contractual relationship. ... The covenant of good faith and fair d e a l i n g presupposes that the terms and purpose o f the contract are agreed upon by the parties a n d that what is in dispute is a party's d i s c r e t i o n a r y application or interpretation of a contract term." De La Concha of Hartford v. Aetna Life Ins., 269 Conn. 424, 432-33 ( 2 0 0 4 ) (internal quotation marks omitted). Again, the plaintiff a t t e m p t s to plead his claim as one based on an obligation arising o u t of the "Employee Handbook." But here too, the harm complained Thus, this claim o f is his being discharged from his employment. -7- a l s o cannot be resolved without interpretation of the CBA and the " j u s t cause" provision, and it is also preempted by Section 301 of t h e LMRA. T h e plaintiff's claim for negligent supervision is that G e n e r a l Dynamics and Electric Boat were negligent in their s u p e r v i s i o n of certain supervisors, and as a consequence, the p l a i n t i f f ' s employment was unlawfully terminated. Once again, the p l a i n t i f f attempts to plead around the CBA, alleging that General D y n a m i c s and Electric Boat failed to implement standards outlined i n the "Employee Handbook." However, it is apparent, based on p a r a g r a p h 34 of the Complaint, that all the harm complained of by t h e plaintiff flows from the termination of his employment. t h e plaintiff's employment was terminated for "just cause," G e n e r a l Dynamics and Electric Boat cannot be liable for the d a m a g e s claimed by the plaintiff. Because a determination as to If w h e t h e r General Dynamics and/or Electric Boat breached any such d u t y would require consideration of the provisions of the CBA, t h i s claim does not exist independent of any rights established by t h e CBA, and it is also preempted by Section 301 of the LMRA. See G r e g o r y v. Southern New England Tel. Co., 896 F. Supp. 78, 84 (D. C o n n . 1994) (" 301 is designed to preclude circumvention of c o n t r a c t u a l grievance procedures by `relabeling' as tort suits a c t i o n s simply alleging breaches of duties assumed in collective b a r g a i n i n g agreements." (quoting Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. -8- 1 0 7 , 123 (1994))) (internal quotation marks omitted). With respect to the plaintiff's claims for intentional and n e g l i g e n t infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff alleges t h a t General Dynamics and Electric Boat owed him a duty of r e a s o n a b l e care and a duty not to engage in conduct that presented a n unreasonable risk of causing him emotional harm. Because the p l a i n t i f f alleges violations of those duties in the form of c o n d u c t by these defendants in breach of their contractual o b l i g a t i o n s to him, if these defendants complied with the terms of t h e CBA when terminating the plaintiff's employment, the plaintiff w i l l not have a claim for either intentional or negligent i n f l i c t i o n of emotional distress. Here again, preemption of the p l a i n t i f f ' s state law claims is necessary to ensure that the p u r p o s e s of Section 301 of the LMRA are not frustrated. G r e g o r y , 896 F. Supp. at 84. See Therefore, the plaintiff's claims for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress are p r e e m p t e d by Section 301 of the LMRA. T h e r e f o r e , all of the plaintiff's claims against Electric B o a t and General Dynamics are preempted by Section 301 of the L M RA . In addition, these preempted claims are time-barred. The p l a i n t i f f ' s grievance process ended on April 21, 2007, when the a r b i t r a t o r upheld the termination of the plaintiff's employment. The plaintiff then had six months from that date to bring his h y b r i d claim. However, the plaintiff did not commence this action -9- u n t i l on or after February 29, 2008. p e r i o d had expired in October of 2007. The six-month limitations Therefore, under Section 1 0 ( b ) of the LMRA, the plaintiff's preempted claims against G e n e r a l Dynamics and Electric Boat are time-barred and should be d i sm i ss e d. I V . CONCLUSION F o r the reasons set forth above, Defendants General Dynamics C o r p o r a t i o n ' s and Electric Boat Corporation's Motion to Dismiss t h e Complaint (Doc. No. 25) is hereby GRANTED. All claims against d e f e n d a n t s General Dynamic Corporation and Electric Boat C o r p o r a t i o n are dismissed. The court notes that all claims against the other defendants i n this action have also been dismissed. s h a l l close this case. It is so ordered. S i g n e d this 24th day of March, 2009 at Hartford, Connecticut. Therefore, the Clerk /s/AWT Alvin W. Thompson U n i t e d States District Judge -10-

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