The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT P. PATTERSON, JR.
ROBERT P. PATTERSON, JR., U.S.D.J.
Defendants move, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), to dismiss this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Plaintiff moves to remand the case to state court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447.
Plaintiff Sharon Mack initiated this action in the Supreme Court of New York County against Metro-North Commuter Railroad ("Metro-North"), and Maurice Kiniry and Joe Bauman, individually and as employees of Metro-North, alleging state law claims of defamation, assault, unlawful imprisonment and intentional infliction of mental anguish on behalf of herself and her ten-year-old son, David, Jr.
From January 1, 1983 to June 10, 1993, Plaintiff was employed as a conductor by Metro-North. Plaintiff's husband, David G. Mack, is employed by Metro-North as a ticket seller.
According to the complaint ("Complaint"), on January 17, 1994, Plaintiff and her son were passengers on the Metro-North train bound for New York's Grand Central Station on the New Haven line, riding on a "dependent pass" when Defendant Kiniry accused Ms. Mack of illegally riding on an employee pass after he had fired her. Plaintiff advised that she was not riding on an employee pass but rather on a dependent pass which she had already shown the conductor. Kiniry continued yelling accusations and transmitted over the radio system, "I have Sharon Mack. She is riding illegally," and when the train arrived at Grand Central Station, Plaintiff was taken into custody and questioned for one hour.
On March 23, 1994, Defendants removed the case to federal court, claiming federal question jurisdiction. On April 21, 1994, Defendants filed this motion to dismiss. On May 27, 1994, Plaintiff cross-moved for remand to New York Supreme Court. The Defendants' motion argues that Plaintiff's claim is subject to arbitration under collective bargaining agreements between Metro-North and the United Transportation Union and the Transportation Communications International Union since employee and dependent passes are rights provided for by those collective bargaining agreements, and that, therefore, Plaintiff's state law tort claims are preempted by operation of the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 151, et seq. ("RLA").
The RLA establishes a mandatory arbitral mechanism for settling "major disputes," involving rates of pay, rules or working conditions, and "minor disputes," growing out of grievances or out of interpretation or application of agreements covering rates of pay, rules or working conditions. Defendants argue that the right of Plaintiff to use the pass as well as the right of Defendants to question her use of the pass are governed by the UTU and the TCU collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs") between Metro-North and the unions, that Plaintiff's claims constitute minor disputes under the RLA, and must be arbitrated by the Railroad Adjustment Board.
Plaintiff contends that the Complaint states legitimate state law claims that are not preempted by the RLA. She cross-moves to remand the case to state court.
In passing the RLA, Congress intended to promote stability in labor-management relations by providing a comprehensive framework for resolving labor disputes. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe R.R. Co. v. Buell, 480 U.S. 557, 562, 94 L. Ed. 2d 563, 107 S. Ct. 1410 (1987); 45 U.S.C. § 151a. To realize this goal, the RLA established a mandatory arbitral mechanism for "the prompt and orderly settlement" of two classes of disputes. 45 U.S.C. § 151a. The first class, those concerning "rates of pay, rules or working conditions" are deemed "major disputes". Major disputes relate to "'the formation of collective bargaining agreements or efforts to secure them.'" Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Ry. Labor Executives' Ass'n, 491 U.S. 299, 302, 105 L. Ed. 2d 250, 109 S. Ct. 2477 (1989) ("Conrail"), quoting Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Ry. Co. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 723, 89 L. Ed. 1886, 65 S. Ct. 1282 (1945) ("Burley"). Minor disputes "involve controversies over the meaning of an existing collective bargaining agreement in a particular fact situation." Brotherhood of R.R. Trainmen v. Chicago River & Indiana R.R. Co., 353 U.S. 30, 33, 1 L. Ed. 2d 622, 77 S. Ct. 635 (1957). Thus "major disputes seek to create contractual rights, minor disputes to enforce them." Conrail, at 302, citing Burley at 723.
Relying on language in Conrail and Burley, Defendants argue that a dispute is a "minor dispute" if it "relates . . . to the meaning or proper application of a particular provision [of a collective bargaining agreement]" or it is "founded upon some incident of the employment relation . . . independent of those covered by the collective agreement, e.g., claims on account of personal injuries" Burley at 723; or if it encompasses disputes that are "arguably governed" by a CBA or are "arguably justified by the terms of the parties' collective-bargaining agreement." Conrail, at 307.
In Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. v. Norris, 129 L. Ed. 2d 203, 114 S. Ct. 2239 (1994) ("Hawaiian Airlines"), however, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the appropriate standard to determine if an individual's state-law claim is preempted by the RLA is whether the claim involves rights and obligations that exist independent of the CBA, the same standard it used in Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 100 L. Ed. 2d 410, 108 S. Ct. 1877 (1988), a case brought under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), Hawaiian Airlines at 2248-49. ...