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WILDS v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE

May 5, 2003

RASHEED WILDS, Plaintiff, against UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., RAFAEL DELEON a/k/a RALPH DELEON, CHRISTOPHER WHEELER, "JOHN DOE, I", "JOHN DOE, II", "JOHN DOE, III", "JOHN DOE, IV", "JANE DOE, I", "JANE DOE, II", "JANE DOE, III", "JANE DOE, IV", "JANE DOE, V", and "JANE DOE, VI", the persons intended being employees and/or supervisors of UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., but whose true names are presently unknown to plaintiff, Defendants. RASHEED WILDS and LAMONT WILDS, Plaintiffs, against UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., RALPH DELEON, and CHRISTOPHER WHEELER, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WHITMAN KNAPP, Senior United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

In 1999, Plaintiffs Rasheed Wilds and Lamont Wilds (collectively the "Plaintiffs") commenced an action against Defendants United Parcel Service, Inc. ("UPS"), Ralph Deleon ("Deleon"), and Christopher Wheeler ("Wheeler") (collectively the "Defendants") in New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County. Two years later, Rasheed Wilds initiated a second action against the Defendants in the same court. In October 2001, the Defendants removed both of those actions to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Shortly thereafter, the Plaintiffs filed two motions whereby they moved this Court to remand those actions to the New York State Supreme Court.

  We referred both motions to Magistrate Judge Pitman for a Report and Recommendation. In his ensuing Report, Judge Pitman recommended that we should remand the action commenced in 1999 to state court but that we should not remand the lawsuit brought in 2001. The Plaintiffs objected to the latter recommendation in a timely fashion. For the reasons that follow, we adopt Judge Pitman's Report and Recommendation in part and thereby remand the 1999 action to the New York State Supreme Court. However, upon a de novo review of the contested sections of that Report, we grant the Plaintiffs' motion to remand the 2001 action.

  BACKGROUND

 I. Factual History

  A. Rasheed Wilds And UPS

  In 1994, UPS hired Plaintiff Rasheed Wilds as a sorter. In that capacity, he reviewed packages and placed them on certain conveyor belts so that the packages could be sent to the correct trucks for delivery to particular customers. If a package came with a torn or partially detached label, he was also purportedly responsible for re-writing the label on that package.

  As a sorter for UPS, Rasheed Wilds was a member of the collective bargaining unit represented by Local 804 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. As such, the terms and conditions of his employment with UPS were governed by a

[262 F. Supp.2d 167]

      Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA"). That CBA contained, among other provisions, disciplinary, grievance, and arbitration procedures.

  B. The Alleged Theft

  The Defendants contend that Rasheed Wilds attempted to steal a computer monitor that was being shipped via UPS. According to the Defendants, Rasheed Wilds redirected that package from the intended recipient to his alleged brother, Plaintiff Lamont Wilds.*fn1 As a consequence, UPS allegedly delivered the package to a vacant apartment where Lamont Wilds signed for the package by using an alias.

  The Defendants claim that, when they investigated the matter, Rasheed Wilds initially denied that he had re-labeled the package containing the computer monitor. However, after he provided a handwriting sample which matched the handwriting on the rewritten label, Rasheed Wilds purportedly admitted that he re-labeled that package. In the wake of this investigation, UPS terminated Rasheed Wilds' employment.

  C. The Apartment Search And The Ensuing Criminal Charges

  The Plaintiffs allege that four UPS security guards arrived at the apartment of Rasheed Wilds' mother on October 12, 1998. These four guards allegedly searched the apartment, pointed a gun at Rasheed Wilds' brother, and frisked him. According to the Plaintiffs, the guards claimed that they were searching for a stolen computer that they believed Rasheed Wilds had re-routed to Lamont Wilds.

  Thereafter, on October 13, 1998, the New York City Police Department arrested Rasheed Wilds and charged him with Petit Larceny, in violation of New York Penal Law § 155.25, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, in violation of New York Penal Law § 165.40. The Plaintiffs contend that the arrest came about as a result of the Defendants' allegations.*fn2

  In light of the charges filed against him, Rasheed Wilds allegedly had to appear in criminal court on five occasions. Although he was offered a plea of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, he refused to accept the plea and continued to assert his innocence. All charges brought against him were purportedly dismissed on March 16, 1999.

  II. Procedural History

  Rasheed Wilds and Lamont Wilds commenced an action against the Defendants in New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County, on September 29, 1999 (hereinafter the "1999 Action"). The state court docketed the 1999 Action under Index Number 23250/99. In their Complaint in the 1999 Action, the Plaintiffs asserted claims for: (1) defamation; (2) negligently causing a criminal complaint to be filed; (3) malicious prosecution; (4) assault and battery; (5) civil conspiracy; (6) negligent hiring and supervision; and (7) punitive damages.*fn3

  Two years later, on September 20, 2001, Rasheed Wilds initiated a second action

[262 F. Supp.2d 168]

      against the Defendants in New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County (hereinafter the "2001 Action"). The state court docketed the 2001 Action under Index Number 24202/01. In his Complaint in the 2001 Action, Rasheed Wilds asserted claims for: (1) "wrongful conduct, investigation, and termination;" (2) "wrongful and illegal, discriminatory, retalitory acts and the misconduct of supervisory personnel;" and (3) failure to investigate claims made by supervisory personnel. (See Verified Complaint ("Complaint"), annexed as Exhibit A to the Stark Aff. in supp. of Mot. to Remand Case No. 01 Civ. 9135, ¶¶ 46, 52, 57-59.)

  UPS removed the 2001 Action to this Court on October 15, 2001, by filing a removal petition. (See Notice of Removal, filed as Docket No. 1 in Case No. 01 Civ. 9135, at 1 (removing "the action entitled Rasheed Wilds v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al., Index No. 24202/01, to this Court").)*fn4 The Clerk of the Court docketed the 2001 Action as Rasheed Wilds v. United Parcel Service. Inc., et al., No. 01 Civ. 9135. On October 16, 2001, the Defendants filed a second removal petition and thereby similarly removed the 1999 Action to this Court.*fn5 (See Notice of Removal, filed as Docket No. 1 in Case No. 01 Civ. 9157, at 1 (removing "the action entitled Rasheed Wilds, et ano. v. United Parcel Service. Inc., et al., Index. No. 23250/99, to this Court").) The Clerk of the Court docketed that second action as Rasheed Wilds and Lamont Wilds v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al., No 01 Civ. 9157.

[262 F. Supp.2d 169]

     

  In their removal petititons, the Defendants argued that they properly removed both lawsuits because this Court purportedly had federal question jurisdiction over those actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In essence, the Defendants contend that any effort to resolve the claims in both actions will depend upon an interpretation of the CBA which governed Rasheed Wilds' employment with UPS; as such, the claims enumerated in the 1999 and 2001 Actions are supposedly preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a).

  The Plaintiffs moved to remand both actions to New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County. They argued that the Defendants improperly removed both actions because none of the claims therein implicated the LMRA. They also argued that the Defendants improperly removed the 1999 Action because they failed to file a timely notice of removal for that lawsuit. In June 2002, we referred their two remand motions to Judge Pitman for a Report and Recommendation ("Report").

  On February 19, 2003, Judge Pitman issued a Report wherein he proposed a number of recommendations. To briefly summarize, he found that the Defendants "had failed to sustain their burden of showing that the claims asserted in the 1999 Action require the interpretation of the CBA between Rasheed Wilds and UPS." (Report at 13-14.) Judge Pitman therefore recommended that we should grant the motion to remand the 1999 Action because the claims therein "assert violations of state law and do not fall under the original jurisdiction of the federal courts pursuant to the LMRA." (Report at 14.) He also recommended that we should grant the motion to remand the 1999 Action because the Defendants' "petition to remove the 1999 Action, filed over two years after the filing of the complaint, is untimely." (Report at 17.) In addition, Judge Pitman found that "the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction" over the entire 1999 Action "would be improper." (Report at 20.) Finally, he recommended that we should deny the motion to remand the 2001 Action "because plaintiff Rasheed Wilds' claims in the 2001 Action do require the interpretation of provisions of the CBA. . . ." (Report at 15.)

  The Defendants chose not to object to Judge Pitman's Report because they "accepted the Magistrate's determination." (See Letter from Edward F. Maluf to the Court of 03/10/03 at 1.) However, the Plaintiffs filed timely objections to the Report. (See Letter from Linda A. Stark to the Court of 02/28/03, filed as Docket No. 16 in Case No. 01 Civ. 9135, at 1-2 ("Objections").) They objected to the Report to the extent that Judge Pitman recommended that we should deny their motion to remand the 2001 Action. (See id.)

  DISCUSSION

 I. Standard of Review

  When a district court evaluates the report and recommendation of a magistrate judge, the court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). "To accept the report and recommendation of a magistrate, to which no timely objection has been made, a district court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record." Nelson v. Smith (S.D.N.Y. 1985) 618 F. Supp. 1186, 1189. However, "within ten days after being served with the report and recommendation, any party may object to the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge." United States v. Male Juvenile (2d Cir. 1997) 121 F.3d 34, 38 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)); see also Cary Oil Co., Inc. v. MG Refining & Marketing. Inc.

[262 F. Supp.2d 170]

      (S.D.N.Y. 2002) 230 F. Supp.2d 439, 445. "When an objection is raised, the court is required to conduct a de novo review of the contested sections." Pizarro v. Bartlett (S.D.N.Y. 1991) 776 F. Supp. 815, 817.

  In his Report, Judge Pitman recommended that we should grant the Plaintiffs' motion to remand the 1999 Action. In contrast, he recommended that we should deny the Plaintiffs' motion to remand the 2001 Action. We consider each of these recommendations seriatim.

 II. Motion To Remand The 1999 Action

  Judge Pitman recommended that we should deny the Plaintiffs' motion to remand the 1999 Action. None of the parties objected to that recommendation. A district court "may adopt those portions of the Report to which no objections have been made and which are not ...


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