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ERHARD v. LOCAL UNION NO. 604

February 14, 1996

ROBERT A. ERHARD, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
LOCAL UNION NO. 604, PUROLATOR PRODUCTS COMPANY, and AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT WORKERS OF AMERICA, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LARIMER

 INTRODUCTION

 Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., and § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. Pending before the Court is defendants' motion to strike and to dismiss various portions of plaintiff's complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

 FACTS

 Plaintiff, Robert A. Erhard, Jr., worked as a fuel pump assembler for Purolator Products Company ("Purolator") from October 12, 1992 until March 7, 1994. Throughout his employment, plaintiff was covered by a collective bargaining agreement between Purolator, Local Union 604, and the International Union of United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (collectively "Unions"). This agreement prohibited employee discharge without proper cause and established a formal grievance procedure, which culminated in binding arbitration.

 On March 7, 1994, Purolator discharged plaintiff allegedly for harassing a coworker. Plaintiff denies this allegation and maintains that there was no proper cause for his discharge. The Unions filed a grievance on plaintiff's behalf, which proceeded through the first three "steps" of the grievance procedure without resolution in favor of plaintiff.

 Plaintiff then demanded arbitration, and on October 4, 1994, a hearing was held. At that time, Purolator raised, as a defense to the arbitration, plaintiff's failure to timely advance from Step 1 to Step 2 of the grievance procedure. Reserving decision on the timeliness issue, the arbitrator heard testimony regarding the merits of plaintiff's grievance. On December 20, 1994, the arbitrator issued his decision, finding plaintiff's grievance nonarbitrable due to the untimely filing.

 On June 14, 1995, plaintiff commenced this action against Purolator and the Unions, alleging, inter alia, that Purolator wrongfully discharged him in violation of the collective bargaining agreement and that the Unions breached their duty of fair representation in the subsequent grievance process. Plaintiff seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

 The Unions move, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f), to strike those portions of plaintiff's complaint that demand punitive damages on the ground that such damages are not recoverable against labor organizations in this type of action. The Unions also move, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), to dismiss those portions of plaintiff's complaint that allege the Unions and Purolator breached their duty of fair representation by failing to timely advance plaintiff's grievance from Step 1 to Step 2 of the grievance procedure. It is the Unions' position that such a claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. *fn1"

 Plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing that he is entitled to punitive damages because the Unions' conduct was truly outrageous and that the action was timely commenced.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Demand for Punitive Damages.

 As a second cause of action, plaintiff asserts that the Unions breached a "fiduciary duty" owed to him by failing to maintain a level of competency in those positions of the Unions which directly affect the outcome of grievances. It is plaintiff's position that the Unions had a duty to represent their members fairly and in good faith. *fn2" Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by the Court and punitive damages of at least one million dollars.

 The Unions move to strike plaintiff's demand for punitive damages and the supporting allegations on the ground that such damages are not recoverable in this action. ...


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