McBrien v. Ruan Transportation Management Systems, Inc. et al
ORDER finding as moot 7 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and granting 10 motion to remand. Case is remanded to the Circuit Court of Buchanan County, Missouri. Signed on 10/17/16 by District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. (Enss, Rhonda)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ST. JOSEPH DIVISION
MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, INC., and
Currently pending before the Court is plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 10).
In plaintiff’s Petition (“Petition”), plaintiff alleges that after suffering from a medical
disability, plaintiff was treated differently from other similarly situated employees in that
he was forced to submit to a more stringent medical review, was given different work at a
reduced wage, had his insurance terminated, and failed to receive other monetary
awards. Doc. No. 1-3, ¶¶ 14-27.
On April 7, 2016, plaintiff filed his Petition in state court. In that petition, plaintiff
asserts one claim for disability discrimination under the Missouri Human Rights Act. Doc.
Id. ¶¶ 28-37. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages related to lost wages and benefits,
emotional pain and suffering, future lost wages and benefits and punitive damages. Id.
On May 16, 2016, defendants removed the case to this Court, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441 asserting that plaintiff’s claim is preempted by § 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and ERISA. Plaintiff filed the pending motion
to remand on June 29, 2016.
A motion for remand will be granted if the district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The removing defendant bears the burden of showing
that federal subject matter jurisdiction exists. Hale v. Cottrell, Inc., No. 11-CV-01273SOW, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189735, *3 (W.D. Mo. Apr. 17, 2012). Any doubts about
federal jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction. Id. Federal
jurisdiction only exists “when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff’s
properly pleaded complaint” or when a federal statute “preempt[s] a field of law so
completely that state law claims are considered to be converted into federal causes of
action.” Id. at *4 (quoting Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1997) and
Gaming Corp. of Am. v. Dorsey & Whitney, 88 F.3d 536, 543 (8th Cir. 1996)).
§ 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act 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.
28 U.S.C. § 185. This section completely preempts state law claims against employers
when the claims are (1) based on duties created by a collective bargaining agreement or
(2) require interpretation or application of a collective bargaining agreement. Hale at *5.
See also Williams v. Nat’l Football League, 582 F.3d 863, 881 (8th Cir. 2009), Bogan v.
GMC, 500 F.3d 828, 832 (8th Cir. 2007) and Caterpillar, 482 U.S. 386 at 394. The fact that
a collective bargaining agreement may “have to be consulted during the course of state
law litigation” is not enough to completely preempt a plaintiff’s state law claim. Hale at *6
(citing Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 124 (1994)). The claim must be “substantially
dependent upon analysis of the terms of an agreement made between the parties in a
labor contract.” Dailey v. Southside Mach. Works, Inc., No. 4:11-CV-1565 CAS, 2011 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 143032, *7 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 13, 2011).
Plaintiff argues that this case should be remanded because plaintiff’s claim arises
solely under the MHRA. Additionally, he asserts that his state court Petition does not
reference the collective bargaining agreement and does not allege any violations of the
agreement itself or that defendants violated ERISA in any way and therefore requires no
interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement.
In response, defendants argue that because plaintiff’s complaint under the MHRA
references defendant’s return to work policy, the recertification physical, a union
grievance, defendant’s seniority system, and the alleged termination of insurance and
employee benefits, plaintiff’s claim requires the interpretation of the collective bargaining
agreement and is therefore preempted by § 301 of the LMRA. Defendants rely on the
Eighth Circuit’s decision in Davis v. Johnson Controls, 21 F.3d 866 (8th Cir. 1994). In
Davis, the Court held that plaintiff’s MHRA claim was preempted by § 301 of the LMRA
because Davis’s failure to accommodate claim under the MHRA was directly related to
his supervisor’s authority under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement to make
accommodations. In that way, it can be said that resolution of Davis’s claim required an
interpretation and application of the provisions of the agreement, because whether the
requested accommodations were reasonable is not merely a defense to the claim, but an
element of the claim itself.
However, many other cases from within this circuit support granting a plaintiff’s
motion to remand unless plaintiff’s claims are substantially dependent on an analysis of a
collective bargaining agreement between the parties to an employment contract. See
Dailey v. Southside Mach. Works, Inc., No. 4:11-CV-1565 CAS, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
143032 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 13, 2011), Marshall v. Am. Railcar Indus., No. 4:13-CV-0470DGK, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176302, *6-7, (W.D. Mo. Dec. 12, 2013) and Cochran v.
Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. 10-0512-CV-W-FJG, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86233, *1 (W.D.
Mo. August 23, 2010) (granting plaintiffs’ motions to remand where it was unnecessary to
interpret and apply the terms of the collective bargaining agreement because the factual
questions surrounding plaintiffs’ MHRA claims went to employer conduct and motive, not
to violations of the collective bargaining agreement itself.) For instance, in Dailey the
Court held that if a plaintiff can establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the
MHRA, the state law claims do not implicate federal interests. This no longer takes into
account a defendant’s anticipated defenses in showing a legitimate nondiscriminatory
reason for the adverse action supported by provisions of the parties’ collective bargaining
agreement. Similarly, in Marshall, the Court found the MHRA claims were independent of
the collective bargaining agreement, and the elements could be determined without
reference to the collective bargaining agreement. Marshall at *9-10.
Therefore, looking only to the face of plaintiff’s complaint, plaintiff’s only claim is for
violations of the MHRA. Like Dailey, Marshall, and Cochran, there are no allegations that
defendants violated any provision of the collective bargaining agreement, the plaintiff
does not reference the agreement in his complaint, there are no claims that the
defendants violated ERISA and there are no claims for recovery of severance pay under
defendant’s health insurance plan. The duties imposed by the MHRA exist independent
of the collective bargaining agreement. The rights at issue are not created by the
collective bargaining agreement and the allegations contained in plaintiff’s complaint, if
true, state a claim for discrimination under the MHRA with no reference to the collective
bargaining agreement. Here, the only factual questions presented are about an
employer’s conduct and motive and therefore resolving plaintiff’s MHRA claim is not
dependent on an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement.
Accordingly, the Court hereby GRANTS plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc. No.
10). Although plaintiff requests an award of costs and expenses related to the removal
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), the Court does not find that defendants lacked an
objectively reasonable basis for removal, and therefore declines to award costs and fees
For all the foregoing reasons, plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 10) is
GRANTED. All other motions pending before this court are DENIED as moot. This case
is remanded to the Circuit Court of Buchanan County, Missouri.
Date: October 17, 2016
Kansas City, Missouri
S/ FERNANDO J. GAITAN, JR.
Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr.
United States District Judge
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