union officials, including Grinnell, indicated to him that the LCA was either invalid, or that they were unaware of its existence, and that "it was agreed by everyone that it would be imperative to challenge the validity of said [LCA] at the time of the arbitration hearing." (Pl. Aff., P 10). Plaintiff further alleges that during his one and only meeting with Bramley, he was assured that the validity of the LCA would be challenged, as would the violation of defendants' rights by the Company, UPIU and Local 18, and the Company's version of the events of April 4, 1995. (Pl. Aff., P 11). He was also allegedly assured by Bramley that all the necessary witnesses would be called and necessary documents subpoenaed. (Id. P 12). Plaintiff contends that none of the witnesses were interviewed, nor were the documents subpoenaed. (Id. P 12).
The arbitration hearing was held August 25, 1995, before Arbitrator Sumner Shapiro ("Shapiro"). During that hearing, Bramley did not in fact challenge the validity of the LCA, and none of the union officials who expressed doubts as to its validity to plaintiff were called as witnesses. (Pl. Aff., P 13). Nor was the alleged violation of plaintiff's rights under article 9 the CBA challenged, as plaintiff alleges he was promised. (Pl. Aff. P 14).
Defendants allege that the decision not to challenge the validity of the LCA during the hearing was a tactical determination. (Grinnell Aff., P 12). Bramley himself asserts that it was his opinion that doing so would not be helpful, and that plaintiff agreed to this decision, both at the August 15 meeting, and in a telephone conversation between Bramley and plaintiff on August 18. (Bramley Aff., PP 6, 10). Bramley suggested that such an argument would be better made in a post-hearing brief to the arbitrator. (Id.). Such a brief was in fact submitted. (Id. P 12 and Ex. A). Bramley also denies that he ever promised plaintiff that he would subpoena documents for the purpose of challenging the LCA. (Id. P 9).
The arbitration hearing was held on August 25, 1995. The substance of that proceeding is documented in the Opinion and Award of Arbitrator Sumner Shapiro, dated September 15, 1995, attached to plaintiff's affidavit as Exhibit 4. Shapiro found, in sum, that (1) the LCA was valid; (2) the LCA did not foreclose plaintiff from invoking the arbitration process; (3) the Company did not violate the CBA when it discharged plaintiff pursuant to the LCA. (See Pl. Aff, Ex. 4). Local 18 did not seek to vacate the award, contending that Bramley concluded that there were no grounds to do so. (Grinnell Aff., P 16).
Sometime after the arbitrator's decision was rendered, plaintiff contacted Bramley. Plaintiff asked Bramley whether the decision could be appealed; according to plaintiff, Bramley responded that an appeal based upon the validity of the LCA or the alleged violation of plaintiff's rights under the CBA would require him to take a position adverse to that of his client, Local 18. (Pl. Aff., P 27). Bramley contends that he simply told plaintiff an appeal would be up to his client, Local 18. (Bramley Aff., P 15). Bramley additionally alleges that plaintiff inquired about suing Local 18, and hiring Bramley, both of which Bramley declined, as Local 18 was his client. (Bramley Aff., PP 14-15).
B. Procedural History:
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on March 18, 1996. The Complaint contains three causes of action, based upon: (1) plaintiff's wrongful termination by the Company, in violation of the CBA; (2) breach of the duty of fair representation against UPIU and Local 18; and (3) a claim that the arbitrator's Opinion and Award is void. Plaintiff seeks $ 1.5 million in compensatory and $ 1.5 million in punitive damages, a determination that the Opinion and Award is void and unenforceable, costs and disbursements.
UPIU, Local 18, and the Company filed answers on May 22, May 30 and June 3, 1996, respectively. UPIU and Local 18 moved for summary judgment on October 17, 1996, and the Company's motion followed on October 22. Defendants argue that: (1) plaintiffs conclusory allegations are insufficient to demonstrate any breach of the duty of fair representation; (2) plaintiff has shown no prejudice as a result of UPIU and Local 18's alleged actions; (3) the Company's discharge of plaintiff did not violate the CBA; and (4) plaintiff's claim that the Opinion and Award is void is untimely.
A. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
The Court now turns to defendants' motions for summary judgment.
(1) The Standard for Summary Judgment.
Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), if there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law . . . where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party." Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986), on remand, 807 F.2d 44 (3d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1029 (1987). The burden to demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists falls solely on the moving party, Heyman v. Commerce and Industry Insurance Co., 524 F.2d 1317 (2d Cir. 1975), and the trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of that party against whom summary judgment is sought, Eastway Construction Corp. v. City of New York, 762 F.2d 243, 249 (2d Cir. 1985) cert. denied 484 U.S. 918, 98 L. Ed. 2d 226, 108 S. Ct. 269 (1987).
Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co, 475 U.S. at 585-86. A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine "if evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). When reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of the evidence, then summary judgment is proper. See id. at 250-51. Once the movant has established the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving party must come forward with enough evidence to allow a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., 475 U.S. at 586. The motion will not be defeated by a non-movant who raises merely a "metaphysical doubt" concerning the facts or who only offers conjecture or surmise. Id.
It is with these considerations in mind that the Court addresses defendants' motions for summary judgment.
(2). Hybrid Section 301/Duty of Fair Representation Claim
Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act provides, in pertinent part:
(a) Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter...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.
29 U.S.C. § 185(a) (1978). It is well-settled that under this section, an individual employee may sue his employer for breach of a collective bargaining agreement. DelCostello v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 163, 76 L. Ed. 2d 476, 103 S. Ct. 2281 (1983); Smith v. Evening News Assn., 371 U.S. 195, 9 L. Ed. 2d 246, 83 S. Ct. 267 (1962). Since, however, employees are generally required to invoke an arbitration mechanism in any such agreement, courts have implied a cause of action against the union representing the bargaining unit to ensure that the employees interests are fairly represented. See DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 164; see also Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 193, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842, 87 S. Ct. 903 (1967); Hines v. Anchor Motor Freight, Inc., 424 U.S. 554, 564, 47 L. Ed. 2d 231, 96 S. Ct. 1048 (1976). Such protection is necessary since "the collective bargaining system as encouraged by Congress and administered by the NLRB...subordinates the interests of an individual employee to the collective interests of all employees in a bargaining unit." Hines, 424 U.S. at 564.
Thus, where the employee in fact invokes the necessary grievance procedures, and, regardless of their outcome, shows that the union acted in an arbitrary, discriminatory, or perfunctory fashion in its representation, the employee may bring suit against both the union and the employer. DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 164; Vaca, 386 U.S. 171, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842, 87 S. Ct. 903; Hines, 424 U.S. 554, 47 L. Ed. 2d 231, 96 S. Ct. 1048; see also United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Mitchell, 451 U.S. 56, 67 L. Ed. 2d 732, 101 S. Ct. 1559 (1981); Czosek v. O'Mara, 397 U.S. 25, 25 L. Ed. 2d 21, 90 S. Ct. 770 (1970). Such a lawsuit, known as a "hybrid § 301/fair representation claim," DelCostello, 462 at 165, encompasses two causes of action.
The suit against the employer rests on § 301, since the employee is alleging a breach of the collective-bargaining agreement. The suit against the union is one for breach of the union's duty of fair representation, which is implied under the scheme of the National Labor Relations Act.