McNealy v. Becnel et al
ORDER AND REASONS granting 257 Motion for Reconsideration ; granting 258 Motion for Reconsideration as per herein. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs state law breach of contract and tort claims against Local Union and USW International are hereby DISMISSED as these claims are preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Local Union and USW Internationals motions to dismiss are GRANTED IN PART to the extent Local Union and USW International moved to dismiss Plaintiffs state law breach of contract and tort claims. Signed by Judge Susie Morgan on 11/17/2016. (cg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
DARRYL J. BECNEL, ET AL.,
SECTION: “E” (2)
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court are two motions for reconsideration of their motions to dismiss
filed by Defendants United Steel Workers Local Union, Local 750 (“Local Union”) 1 and
United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and
Service Workers International Union (“USW International”). 2 On October 17, 2016, the
Court issued its Order and Reasons 3 with respect to the Defendants’ eight dispositive
motions. 4 In its Order, the Court deferred ruling on Plaintiff’s state law claims. 5 Following
a status conference on October 28, 2016, the Court issued an order allowing Local Union
and USW International to file motions to reconsider with respect to certain state law
claims they believe are preempted by federal law. 6 Plaintiff Newton McNealy opposes
these motions for reconsideration. 7
Defendants Local Union and USW International argue the state law claims against
them for breach of contract and negligence are preempted by Section 301 of the Labor
R. Doc. 257.
R. Doc. 258
3 R. Doc. 237.
4 R. Docs. 117, 119, 121, 138, 146, 210, 215, 216.
5 R. Doc. 237, at 39. On July 8, 2016, the Court provided the parties with a chart specifying the claims
brought against each of the Defendants. R. Doc. 209-1. The Plaintiff brings state law claims against Local
Union and USW International under Louisiana Civil Code articles 1906, 2315, 2316, 2320, 3499 and
Louisiana Revised Statutes section 9:3801. See id.
6 R. Doc. 245.
7 R. Docs. 254, 255.
Management Relations Act (LMRA). 8 Plaintiff argues his claims for breach of contract
and negligence are independent of any collective bargaining agreement and therefore not
preempted by the LMRA. 9
For the following reasons, Local Union and USW International’s motions for
reconsideration 10 are GRANTED.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Defendants Local Union and USW International argue the Plaintiff’s state law
claims for breach of contract and negligence are preempted by Section 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act. Section 301 provides:
Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor
organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as
defined in this Act, or between any such labor organizations, may be
brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the
parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to
the citizenship of the parties. 11
Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act is codified at 29 U.S.C. § 185 and has
been recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States as a “potent source of federal
labor law.” 12 Section 301 “provides the requisite jurisdiction and exclusive remedy for an
individual employee covered by a collective-bargaining agreement between the
individual’s employer and the union representing the employees, who asserts a violation
of that agreement.” 13 “Generally, claims that require the interpretation of a collective
bargaining agreement are preempted by the LMRA.” 14
R. Doc. 257-1, at 3; R. Doc. 258-1, at 3.
R. Doc. 254-1, at 4, 6; R. Doc. 255-1, at 4, 6.
10 R. Docs. 257, 258.
11 29 U.S.C. § 185(a).
12 United Steelworkers of Am., AFL-CIO-CLC v. Rawson, 495 U.S. 362, 368 (1990).
13 Yavorsky v. Felice Navigation, Inc., 2014 WL 5816999, at *2 (E.D. La. Nov. 7, 2014) (citing Thomas v.
LTV Corp., 39 F.3d 611, 617 (5th Cir. 1995) (emphasis added).
14 Vilma v. Goodell, 917 F. Supp. 2d 591, 595 (E.D. La. 2013) (citations omitted).
As this district has explained, “Section 301 can preempt causes of action arising in
both contract and tort, and such ‘preemption occurs when a decision on the [other claims]
is inextricably intertwined with considerations of the terms of the labor contract or when
the application of [other] law to a dispute requires interpretation of the collectivebargaining agreement.’” 15 The Supreme Court has further explained “Section 301 of the
LMRA governs claims founded directly on rights created by collective-bargaining
agreements, and also claims substantially dependent on the analysis of a collective
bargaining agreement.” 16
Breach of Contract Claims
Mr. McNealy alleges a claim for breach of contract under Louisiana Civil Code
article 2320. 17 As the Plaintiff explains in his opposition, “Plaintiff paid a fee to be a
member of the Union in exchange [for] receiv[ing] representation as a member of the
unit. The Union failed to fulfill its obligation to Mr. McNealy by refusing to address his
job related concerns.” 18 Plaintiff argues he “has alleged a breach of contract [claim]
against the union defendant[s] which is independent of interpretation of any collective
bargaining agreement.” 19
As the Court explained in its October 17, 2016 Order:
[A]n employee’s cause of action against a union for breach of the duty of fair
representation is implied under Section 301. 20 “Because of the intricate
relationship between the duty of fair representation and the enforcement of
a collectively bargained contract, the two causes of action have become
Yavorsky, 2014 WL 5816999, at *2 (citing Thomas, 39 F.3d at 616).
Catepillar Inc. v. Williams, 48 U.S. 386, 387 (1987).
17 See R. Doc. 209-1, at 1.
18 R. Doc. 254-1, at 4; R. Doc. 255-1, at 4.
20 Id. (citing Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171 (1967)).
‘inextricably interdependent’ and known as a ‘hybrid § 301/fair
representation suit.’” 21
In acknowledging the fee he paid in exchange for receiving representation, Plaintiff
appears to concede the duty to represent arises out of the collective bargaining agreement
between his employer and the union. It is clear Mr. McNealy’s claim requires
interpretation of the CBA to determine whether the Union failed to represent him or
represented him unfairly, or both. As the Supreme Court has explained, “any state-law
cause of action for violation of collective-bargaining agreements is entirely displaced by
federal law under § 301.” 22 As a result, Mr. McNealy’s state law claims against Local Union
and USW International for alleged breach of contract are preempted by the LMRA.
Mr. McNealy alleges a claim for negligence under Louisiana Civil Code articles
2315 and 2316. 23 Mr. McNealy alleges Local Union and USW International were negligent
in their failure to properly address his job related concerns. 24 Mr. McNealy alleges the
Defendants’ negligence “qualifies as independent or separate [state] causes of action” and
therefore these causes of action are not preempted by the LMRA. 25
The Supreme Court has explicitly “recognized that the preemptive force of § 301
extends beyond state-law contract actions.” 26 “A state-law tort action against an employer
may be pre-empted by § 301 if the duty to the employee of which the tort is a violation is
R. Doc. 237, at 9. Bache, 840 F.2d at 287–88 (quoting DelCostello v. Int’l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462
U.S. 151, 164–65 (1983)). “The interdependency arises from the nature of the collective bargaining
agreement. If the arbitration and grievance procedure is the exclusive and final remedy for breach of the
collective bargaining agreement, the employee may not sue his employer under § 301 until he has exhausted
the procedure. Further, he is bound by the procedure’s result unless he proves the union breached its duty
of fair representation.” Daigle v. Gulf State Util. Co., 794 F.2d 974, 977 (5th Cir. 1986) (citations omitted).
22 United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC v. Rawson, 495 U.S. 362, 368 (1990).
23 See R. Doc. 209-1, at 1.
24 R. Doc. 254-1, at 6; R. Doc. 255-1, at 6.
25 See id.
26 Rawson, 495 U.S. at 369.
created by a collective bargaining agreement and without existence independent of the
agreement.” 27 Any other result, “would ‘allow parties to evade the requirements of § 301
by relabeling their contract claims as claims for tortious breach of contract.’” 28 As
explained in Rawson, the Supreme Court “extended this rule of pre-emption to a tort suit
by an employee against her union in Electrical Workers v. Hechler.” 29 When the
resolution of the tort claim requires a court to ascertain, first, whether the collectivebargaining agreement in fact placed an implied duty of care on the Union and second, the
nature and scope of that duty, the tort claim is not sufficiently independent of the
collective-bargaining agreement to withstand the preemptive force of Section 301. 30
As explained above, Defendants Local Union and USW International’s duty to
defend Mr. McNealy was a consequence of a collective bargaining agreement between the
unions and Mr. McNealy’s employer. As a result, any tort action arising directly out of this
relationship is preempted by Section 301 of the LMRA.
For the foregoing reasons;
IT IS ORDERED that Local Union and USW International’s motions for
reconsideration 31 are GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s state law breach of contract and tort
claims against Local Union and USW International are hereby DISMISSED as these
claims are preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. 32
Id. (quoting Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 211 (1985)).
29 Id. (referencing Electrical Workers v. Hechler, 481 U.S. 851 (1987)).
31 R. Docs. 257, 258.
32 To the extent any other state claims remain, the Court defers to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. It
appears, however, the remaining state claims are not causes of action: (1) La. Civ. Code art. 1906
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Local Union and USW International’s
motions to dismiss 33 are GRANTED IN PART to the extent Local Union and USW
International moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s state law breach of contract and tort claims.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 17th day of November, 2016.
____________ _______ __________
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
(definition of a contract); (2) La. Civ. Code. art. 3499 (statute establishing the prescriptive period for a
personal action is ten years); (3) La. Rev. Stat. § 9:3801 (definitions pertaining to Uniform Fiduciaries
33 R. Docs. 117, 118, 215, 216.
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