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BRANNON v. TARLOV

December 10, 1997

RALPH BRANNON, Plaintiff, against MERWYN TARLOV, JOHN HANCOCK LIFE INSURANCE OF AMERICA and UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, AFL-CIO and CLC, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEXLER

 WEXLER, District Judge

 Plaintiff pro se Ralph Brannon *fn1" brings the above-referenced action against John Hancock Life Insurance of America ("John Hancock"), Merwyn Tarlov, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (the "Union"), asserting various breaches of the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") arising out of his employment as a marketing representative with John Hancock. Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 ("LMRA"), 61 Stat. 156, 29 U.S.C. § 185, thus establishing federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a). To the extent that plaintiff raises state law claims not cognizable under § 301, this Court will exercise its supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Presently before the Court are the parties' motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion is denied, defendants' motions are granted, and the case is dismissed.

 FACTS

 Plaintiff was employed by John Hancock as a marketing representative from August 23, 1981 to March 1994, and was responsible for soliciting sales of insurance and investment products. At the times relevant to this matter, production quotas for marketing representatives were set forth in the CBA between John Hancock and the Union, effective July 1, 1993 to June 30, 1996 (the "1993 Contract"). Plaintiff was employed in the collective bargaining unit covered by the 1993 Contract, voted on its ratification, and, by March 4, 1994, had a copy of the 1993 Contract.

 Article XVI, Section 18 of the 1993 Contract required marketing representatives, also known as insurance agents, to submit new commissions in the amount of $ 7500 for the period July 1, 1993 through December 31, 1993, in order to maintain eligibility for continued employment by John Hancock. In January 1994, John Hancock determined that plaintiff had failed to meet his quota in the fourth quarter of 1993 by approximately $ 146.00. By letter dated January 10, 1994, plaintiff was advised by John Hancock that he had failed to meet his commission quota, was on probation pursuant to the terms of the 1993 Contract, and told that if, for any quarter, he failed to reach certain cumulative quarterly first year commission levels set forth in the 1993 Contract, his employment would be terminated.

 The Union continued to pursue plaintiff's grievance and an arbitration hearing was scheduled in accordance with the terms of the CBA. On January 4, 1995, John Hancock advised the Union by letter that it was renewing its offer to reinstate plaintiff on a non-probationary basis. On January 10, 1995, the Union advised plaintiff that the Union had agreed to settle plaintiff's termination grievance on the terms offered by John Hancock. On or about January 25, 1995, plaintiff sent John Hancock a handwritten document which stated in pertinent part: "Attached are the letters dated January 4, 1995 and January 10, 1995. Pursuant to these letters I will be appearing Friday Jan 27, 1995 to pursue the intent and spirit of enclosed Company and Union letters." The arbitration that had been scheduled under the terms of the 1993 Contract was withdrawn and plaintiff was scheduled to return to work in January 1995. Plaintiff, however, did not return to work. In late February 1995, he advised John Hancock that he had decided to pursue his disability claim rather than return to work.

 The disability claim to which plaintiff referred arose out of a confrontation that took place between plaintiff and a fellow marketing representative named William Ross in mid-July 1993. According to plaintiff, Ross insulted him with profane language because Ross believed that plaintiff had advised their office manager, defendant Tarlov, that Ross was inappropriately attired for business. Plaintiff further states that he and Ross thereafter had a physical confrontation just outside the entrance to the office, as plaintiff was attempting to enter. Plaintiff was arrested for assault and was jailed for five days when he refused to be fingerprinted. Plaintiff claims that the incidents with Ross, their sequelae, and his placement on probation for failure to meet the 1993 Contract's required quota caused him to suffer severe emotional distress. This emotional distress led him to file the disability claim in or about February 1994.

 In July 1994, plaintiff commenced an action in state court against the instant defendants Tarlov and John Hancock, as well as certain other employees of John Hancock, but not against the Union. That suit was removed to this Court and dismissed by Order dated February 23, 1995. In the instant action, plaintiff filed his complaint naming the Union as a defendant on August 14, 1995, and filed an Amended Complaint on September 7, 1995.

 DISCUSSION

 A motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless the court determines that no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The burden of showing the absence of any genuine dispute as to a material fact rests on the party seeking summary judgment. McLee v. Chrysler Corp., 109 F.3d 130, 134 (2d Cir. 1997). However, when the nonmoving party fails to make a showing on an essential element of its case with respect to which it bears the burden of proof, summary judgment will be granted. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The Court concludes that none of the claims advanced by plaintiff is supported by evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact requiring trial and finds that judgment should be rendered in favor of defendants.

 In order to ensure uniformity in interpreting the meaning of collective bargaining agreements, the Supreme Court has held that state law "does not exist as an independent source of private rights to enforce collective bargaining contracts." Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 394, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318, 107 S. Ct. 2425 (1987). Consequently, § 301 of the LMRA governs claims founded directly on rights created by collective bargaining agreements as well as claims substantially dependent upon analysis of a collective bargaining agreement. Id.; Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448, 456-57, 1 L. Ed. 2d 972, 77 S. Ct. 912 (1957) ("the substantive law to apply in suits under § 301(a) is federal law, which the courts must fashion from the policy of our national labor laws").

 In Count I of his complaint, plaintiff contends that John Hancock and Tarlov negligently retained Ross as an employee and, as a consequence of that negligence, breached the CBA (i.e., the 1993 Contract) by failing to provide a safe and healthy work environment. Amended Complaint P 28. Plaintiff's characterization of his claim notwithstanding, the Court must resolve at the threshold whether the claim is ...


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