Meyer v. Ford Motor Company et al
ORDER granting defendant's 18 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds. (CBet)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Patricia A. Meyer et al.,
Case No. 13-12405
Honorable Nancy G. Edmunds
United Auto Workers,
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR DISMISSAL OF AMENDED
Currently before the Court is Defendant United Auto Workers’ motion to
dismiss Plaintiffs’ amended complaint with prejudice for lack of standing. Plaintiffs are
Patricia A. Meyer and various unnamed “ACH Workers.” Plaintiffs oppose the motion
and argue that they have pleaded the requisite elements of standing. Because Patricia
Meyer has not (1) pleaded the constitutional requirements of standing, (2) does not
have standing, and (3) cannot raise claims on behalf of the ACH workers, the Court
GRANTS Defendant’s motion in part, and DISMISSES Plaintiffs’ amended complaint
On May 31, 2013, Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendants, Ford Motor Company,
Bob King, Jimmy Settles, Rory Gambles, Ford Motor Co 6, Devon Difa Services,
Visteon, ACH Automotive Component Holding, Faurecia, Belcam Employment Agency,
Saline MI Local #892, Sheldon Rd Local #845, Utica Local #400, Sterling Hgts Local
#228, FAP Local #3000, LAP Local #862, Monroe Local #723, Rawsonville Local #898,
Sandusky Ohio Local #1216, Milan #600, and United Auto Workers. (Compl. at 1, 4.)
Plaintiffs assert multiple claims, including Defendants’ breach of contract, failure to
provide a “closed shop” environment, failure to recognize employee seniority, and
failure to represent employees. (Id. at 1, 2.) Plaintiffs filed their original complaint pro
se. (Pls.’ Mot. to Amend Compl. at 1.) On December 20, 2013, Defendants filed their
answer and raised affirmative defenses, including failure of service, lack of jurisdiction,
Plaintiff Patricia Meyer's lack of standing, and failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. (Defs.’ Answer at 3, 4.) Plaintiffs then acquired an attorney. (Dkt. 7.)
On January 6, 2014, Plaintiffs moved to amend their complaint. (Dkt. 9.) Defendants
responded to Plaintiffs’ motion by noting multiple deficiencies in Plaintiffs’ motion to
amend, including failures to obtain concurrence or include the substance of the
proposed amendment. (Defs.’ Resp. in Opp’n to Pl.’s Mot. to Amend the Compl. ¶¶ 59.)
On February 19, 2014, Plaintiffs and Defendants stipulated to an agreement:
Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all named Defendants except for Defendant UAW, and
Defendant consented to Plaintiffs’ request to file an amended complaint. (Dkt. 14, Stip.
¶¶ 4, 6.) The parties also stipulated that Plaintiffs had sought concurrence with
Defendant. (Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs’ proposed amendment identified three causes of action:
(1) failure of duty of fair representation, (2) breach of contract, and (3) fraudulent
misrepresentation. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 118-155.) Plaintiffs’ first cause of action, failure of
duty of fair representation, is brought as a federal claim pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §
7114(a)(1). (Id. at ¶¶119-120.) The amended complaint only identifies one plaintiff by
name, Patricia Meyer. (Id. at ¶ 2.) The amended complaint identifies Ms. Meyer as an
“advocate for auto workers.” (Id.) The amended complaint also mentions a group of
“ACH Workers” as Plaintiffs, but does not provide the names or a precise number of
ACH workers. (Id. at 3.)
On March 14, 2014, Defendant UAW moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ amended
complaint for lack of standing. (Mot. to Dismiss Pl.’s Am. Compl. at 1.) Defendant
argues that Ms. Meyer is the only identified Plaintiff in the suit, and none of the claims in
the amended complaint seek to remedy her rights. (Br. in Supp. of Def.’s Mot to Dismiss
Pl.’s Am. Compl. at 2.) Defendant argues that Ms. Meyer, as the only litigant in this suit,
has not established standing. (Id. at 4.) Defendant asserts that the amended complaint
should be dismissed due to Ms. Meyer’s failure to establish standing. (Id.)
Plaintiffs, in their response, put forth no argument that Ms. Meyer has standing to
sue. Plaintiffs instead point to their amended complaint, which includes “et al.” in the
caption and mentions the ACH workers as additional Plaintiffs. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3.)
Plaintiffs argue the amended complaint shows that the ACH workers are included as
plaintiffs in the suit. (Mot. to Dismiss Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss the Am. Compl. at 8.)
Plaintiffs assert that Defendant has ignored the ACH workers as a party, and that the
ACH workers do in fact have standing to sue. (Id. at 13). Because of the ACH workers’
status as additional plaintiffs, Plaintiffs request the Court deny Defendant’s motion to
The ACH workers' status has evolved since the first complaint was filed. The
caption of the original complaint mentions the ACH workers as “et al.” (Compl. at 1.)
The January 6, 2014 motion to amend briefly mentions the ACH workers as a group.
(Mot. to Amend Compl. at 6.) The amended complaint identifies the ACH workers as
additional plaintiffs. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3, Feb. 19, 2014.) The amended complaint identifies
only one former ACH worker, “Denise.” (Id. at ¶¶ 108-10, 113-14, 116-17.) The
amended complaint states there are “approximately 140” ACH workers. (Id.) Plaintiffs
finally provided the Court with a list of the ACH workers’ identities on April 11, 2014.
(Dkt. 20, Ex. 1.) The list contains approximately 170 ACH workers. (Id.)
At the June 18, 2014 hearing, Plaintiffs' counsel argued that the list of ACH
workers filed on April 11, 2014 sufficiently added the ACH workers as parties to the suit.
The Court found that the list of ACH workers was not sufficient to add the workers as
parties to the suit.
Defendant maintains that Plaintiffs do not dispute Defendant’s arguments that (1)
Plaintiffs have not sufficiently pled standing on behalf of the only named Plaintiff, Ms.
Meyer, and (2) Ms. Meyer lacks standing to pursue her claims under the law. (Reply Br.
in Supp. of Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss at 2.) Defendant argues that Plaintiffs’
characterization of the ACH workers in the amended complaint shows that Plaintiffs are
trying to maintain their claims as a class action, and that the amended complaint
identifies the “ACH Workers” as the class. (Id.) Defendant further claims that Plaintiffs
fail to allege the requirements necessary to certify a class. (Id.) Defendant argues that
Ms. Meyer lacks standing to pursue the action for herself and on behalf of the ACH
workers as a class. (Id. at 1, n.1, 4.) Because of this lack of standing, Defendant moves
to dismiss Plaintiffs’ amended complaint with prejudice. (Id. at 4.)
A party who seeks to invoke federal jurisdiction over a case must prove she has
standing. FW/PBS Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990). Standing cannot be
“inferred argumentatively from averments in the pleadings.” Grace v. American Central
Ins. Co., 109 U.S. 278, 284 (1883). Rather, standing “must appear affirmatively in the
record.” Mansfield C. & L.M.R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884). If the party fails
to make the necessary allegations, she does not have standing. McNutt v. Gen. Motors
Acceptance Corp. of Indiana, 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936). The above principles are
considered to be long-settled. See FW/PBS, 493 U.S. at 231 (holding the above
propositions with approval.)
There are two types of standing: (1) constitutional (Article III) standing; and (2)
prudential standing. Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 162 (1997). Here, only
constitutional standing is at issue. If a plaintiff does not possess constitutional standing,
she cannot litigate in the courts of the United States. Valley Forge Christian Coll. v.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 475-76
(1982). Three elements make up the constitutional minimum of standing:
First, the plaintiff must have suffered an injury in fact – an invasion of a legally
protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or
imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Second, there must be a causal
connection between the injury and the conduct complained of – the injury has to
be fairly traceable to the challenged action of the Defendant, and not the result of
the independent action of some third party not before the court. Third, it must be
likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992)(internal quotations, alterations,
and citations omitted.) For a party's injury to be “particularized,” the injury must affect
her in a very personal and individual way. Id. at 560 n.1. Having a special interest is not
enough to meet the standard. See Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 739 (1971)
(explaining that the injury in fact element would be meaningless if a special interest
counted as an injury in fact). The party seeking to prove injury in fact therefore must
herself be among the injured. Id. at 734-35. To sufficiently prove injury in fact at the
pleading stage, “general factual allegations of injury resulting from the defendant’s
conduct may suffice, for on a motion to dismiss we presume that general allegations
embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim.” Lujan, 504 U.S.
at 561 (internal quotations omitted).
Even when the plaintiff has met the requirements of constitutional standing, “the
plaintiff generally must assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his
claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties.” Valley Forge Christian
Coll., 454 U.S. at 474 (quoting Warth, 422 U.S. at 499). A plaintiff must assert his own
rights because injured parties are usually the best proponents of their own rights.
Domino’s Pizza, Inc. v. McDonald, 546 U.S. 470, 479 (2006) (citing Singleton v. Wulff,
428 U.S. 106, 114 (1976)). If “the holders of those rights do not wish to assert them,
third parties are not normally entitled to step into their shoes. Domino’s Pizza, 546 U.S.
at 479 (external quotations, citations, and alterations omitted). There are few
exceptions to the prohibition on litigating a third party’s rights. See U.S. Dept. of Labor
v. Triplett, 494 U.S. 715, 720 (1990) (third party standing exists when a restriction keeps
the litigant and the third party from entering into a relationship to which the third party is
If a suit goes forth as a class action, the personal standing of the class
representative is important. “[A]t the outset of litigation, class representatives without
personal standing cannot predicate standing on injuries suffered by members of the
class but which they themselves have not or will not suffer.” Rosen v. Tennessee
Comm’r of Fin. and Admin., 288 F.3d 918, 928 (6th Cir. 2002)(citing Warth v. Seldin,
422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975)). “A class representative must be part of the class and
possess the same interest and suffer the same injury as the class members.” Amchem
Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 625-626 (1997).
The Court is tasked with determining whether Plaintiffs’ amended complaint has
shown they have standing. The Court finds that Patricia Meyer does not have standing
in this case. While the ACH workers might have standing, the Court finds that the
amended complaint did not join them appropriately.
A. Patricia Meyer does not have standing
Defendant’s core argument is that Ms. Meyer does not have standing. Ms. Meyer
has referred to herself as an “advocate for auto workers.” (Dkt. 14, Ex. 1, ¶ 2.) Ms.
Meyer’s status as an advocate does not give her standing to sue in this case.
Plaintiffs fail to allege that Ms. Meyer suffered an “injury in fact.” To have an
“injury in fact,” Ms. Meyer’s injury must be particularized, meaning the injury affects her
in a very personal and individual way. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 n.1. A “special interest” is
not sufficient to meet the “injury in fact” element. Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. at 739
(holding a mere interest in a problem is not enough to render an organization adversely
affected or aggrieved). In Sierra Club, the Court reasoned that if a “special interest”
was enough to entitle an interest group to commence litigation, “there would appear to
be no objective basis upon which to disallow a suit by any other bona fide special
interest organization however small or short-lived.” Id. The Sierra Club court held that
the “injury in fact” test required the party to be among the injured. Id. at 734-35.
Ms. Meyer does not have standing to sue because she has not sufficiently pled
the constitutional elements of standing. The amended complaint contains alleged
actions by Defendant that injured the ACH workers, but the amended complaint does
not allege that Ms. Meyer personally suffered any injuries. No claims in the amended
complaint show that Ms. Meyer was placed among the injured. Ms. Meyer’s status as
an advocate for auto workers merely constitutes a special interest. As Sierra Club
instructs, Ms. Meyer’s special interest in auto workers is not enough to prove “injury in
fact.” Since Ms. Meyer has not alleged she suffered an “injury in fact,” she has not met
the first element of constitutional standing. As Ms. Meyer has not sufficiently pleaded
the first element of standing, she has not fulfilled the constitutional standing
requirements, and she does not personally have standing to sue the Defendant.
B. Plaintiffs’ amended complaint is deficient because Patricia Meyer does
not have standing to represent the ACH workers
Plaintiffs’ amended complaint is deficient because Ms. Meyer is the sole named
Plaintiff, and no other Plaintiffs have stepped forward in this suit. Ms. Meyer’s name
appears alone on the caption of the proposed amended complaint, her name appears
before the names of the ACH workers, and the ACH workers are consistently referred to
as a unit. (Dkt. 14, Ex. 1, p.1, ¶¶ 2, 3.) The information in the amended complaint leads
the Court to infer that were this case to go forward with the ACH workers as a class, Ms.
Meyer would be the class representative. As stated above, Ms. Meyer does not have
standing to sue Defendant. “It is well settled that, at the outset of litigation, class
representatives without personal standing cannot predicate standing on injuries suffered
by members of the class but which they themselves have not or will not suffer.” Rosen
v. Tennessee Comm’r of Fin. and Admin., 288 F.3d 918, 928 (6th Cir. 2002)(quoting
Warth, 422 U.S. at 501). Since Ms. Meyer does not have personal standing in this
matter, and she is not allowed to predicate her standing on the standing of the ACH
workers, she may not be the class representative for this suit. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 23(a)(4) requires representative parties that will fairly and adequately protect
the interests of the class. Fed R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). No adequate class representative for
the ACH workers has been identified. Because Plaintiffs have no adequate class
representative, the Court cannot adjudicate this case.
C. Plaintiffs’ lack of standing is grounds for dismissal
Because Plaintiffs have not sufficiently proven they have constitutional standing,
and because Plaintiffs have not shown authority for the ACH workers being considered
named parties to a case because of “et al.” in the case caption, neither Ms. Meyer nor
the class of ACH workers can succeed on the failure of duty of fair representation,
breach of contract, or fraudulent misrepresentation claims in their amended complaint.
See Valley Forge Christian Coll., 454 U.S. at 475-76 (holding that if a plaintiff does not
have constitutional standing, they cannot litigate in United States courts).
Ms. Meyer does not have standing to pursue her claims on her own behalf.
Regardless of whether the ACH workers are considered additional Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs
do not have standing to pursue this suit. For these reasons and the reasons stated
above, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s amended complaint
s/Nancy G. Edmunds
Nancy G. Edmunds
United States District Judge
Dated: June 24, 2014
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of
record on June 24, 2014, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/Carol J. Bethel
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