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Franklin v. Day & Zimmerman NPS, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

April 30, 2014

CHARLES E. FRANKLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
DAY & ZIMMERMAN NPS, INC., Defendant.

John Nacca, Esq., Rochester, NY, for Plaintiff.

Pamela S.C. Reynolds, Esq., Jacqueline Phipps Polito, Esq., Littler Mendelson, P.C., Rochester, NY, for Defendant.

DECISION AND ORDER

CHARLES J. SIRAGUSA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This diversity employment case is before the Court on Defendant's motion to dismiss, filed on December 18, 2012, ECF No. 14, for failure to state a cause of action. Defendant contends that "the claims are completely preempted by federal labor law, because they require interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement." Def. Mem. of Law at 1. For the reasons stated below, the application is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Charles E. Franklin ("Franklin") filed his complaint in New York State court. Defendant Day & Zimmerman NPS, Inc. ("D&Z") removed the case to this Court, filed an answer, and then brought the pending motion to dismiss. For the purposes of the motion, the Court assumes the facts alleged in the complaint are true. Franklin is a resident of New York. D&Z's principal place of business is in Pennsylvania. D&Z previously employed Franklin for work at the Ginna nuclear plant ("Ginna" or "the plant") in Wayne County, New York State, during outages of the plant.

Franklin would typically work for eight to ten weeks and earn as much as $20, 000 for his work. He is a member of Local 26 of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators & Allied Workers, affiliated with the AFL-CIO (hereinafter "Union"). D&Z had a collective bargaining agreement with the Union for the work at Ginna. Franklin asserts in his complaint that D&Z discriminated against him after he, as a union trustee, approached "his union brothers and, on behalf of his union, [approached] the employer, in order to protect and speak up for an injured co-worker by the name of Eric Pastor who had not been compensated adequately by [D&Z] and in accordance with standard wage protocol." Compl. ¶ 10. Franklin's complaint alleges that one week after he was successful in his intervention, he was laid off, and since that time, D&Z has consistently refused to employ him despite a long history of employment on projects at Ginna. He maintains that "as recently as April 18, 2011, during an outage, [D&Z] denied [Franklin] access to Ginna with no explanation, where it would not have denied [Franklin] access during outages at Ginna in previous years." Compl. ¶ 14. Franklin claims that D&Z has discriminated against him as a result of his membership in a union or for exercising any rights granted to him under 29 U.S.C. Chapter 7. Franklin's complaint alleges that D&Z breached New York labor law by discriminating against him. N.Y. Lab. L. § 201-d(2) (Consol. 2014).

D&Z counters that because the Court must interpret Article II of the collective bargaining agreement, entitled Management Rights, Franklin's state law claims are preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, section 301, 29 U.S.C. § 185 ("LMRA").[1] Franklin, however, argues that no interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement is necessary to adjudicate his claim.

STANDARD OF LAW

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) ( Twombly holding applies to all complaints, not just those sounding in antitrust). Although all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is "inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A claim will have "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

When applying this standard, a district court must accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Burnette v. Carothers, 192 F.3d 52, 56 (1999), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1052 (2000). Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not "show[n]"-"that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

ANALYSIS

Point I of D&Z's memorandum asserts that Franklin's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and sets out a standard for Rule 12(b)(1) that is inapplicable to 12(b)(6)-"the court may dismiss a complaint if it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts which would entitle him or her to relief.' Raila v. United States, 355 F.3d 118, 119 (2d Cir. 2004)." ...


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