noticed for hearing on November 21, 1997. O'Sullivan filed a late opposition to the motion on November 5, 1997, and Longview filed a late reply on November 14, 1997.
Longview contends that O'Sullivan's breach of contract claim must be dismissed because (1) he failed to exhaust his remedies under the CBA; and, even if this failure is excused (2) he failed to file the instant breach of contract claim within the six-month statute of limitations period applicable under the LMRA.
I. Legal Standard
A. Motion to Dismiss -- Rule 12(b)(6)
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) cannot be granted unless "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957). Dismissal can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
Generally, a court may not consider materials beyond the pleadings in ruling on a motion to dismiss. Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner And Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990). However, material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint may be considered. Id. In addition, a court may consider documents whose contents are specifically alleged in a complaint, and whose authenticity no party questions, even though the documents are not physically attached to the pleading. Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994). Finally, the Court may take judicial notice of matters of public record outside the pleadings. MGIC Indemnity Corp. v. Weisman, 803 F.2d 500, 504 (9th Cir. 1986).
In this case, Longview requests that the Court consider (1) the CBA, which Longview filed with its Notice of Removal, and (2) the declaration of R.B. Arkell, Vice President of Industrial Relations and General Counsel of Longview. Since neither piece of evidence was attached or specifically referred to in O'Sullivan's complaint, the Court must construe Longview's motion as one for summary judgment.
B. Motion for Summary Judgment -- Rule 56
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court may grant summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
The Supreme Court's 1986 "trilogy" of Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986), Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986), and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986), requires that a party seeking summary judgment show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. The moving party need not produce admissible evidence showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact when the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, but may discharge its burden simply by pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324-25, 106 S. Ct. at 2553-54. Once the moving party has done so, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S. Ct. at 2553 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). "When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, 106 S. Ct. at 1356. "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S. Ct. at 2511 (citations omitted). When determining whether there is a genuine issue for trial, "inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts . . . must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S. Ct. at 1356 (citation omitted).
A. LMRA Preemption
Section 301 of LMRA provides:
Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction over the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties.
29 U.S.C. § 185(a).
As interpreted by the courts, § 301 confers jurisdiction on the federal courts over controversies involving collective bargaining agreements, and, in addition, "authorizes the courts to fashion 'a body of federal law for the enforcement of these collective bargaining agreements.'" United Steelworkers of America v. Rawson, 495 U.S. 362, 368, 110 S. Ct. 1904, 1909, 109 L. Ed. 2d 362 (1990) (quoting Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills of Alabama, 353 U.S. 448, 451, 77 S. Ct. 912, 915, 1 L. Ed. 2d 972 (1957)). The comprehensive body of law thereby created is designed to guarantee the smooth functioning of the voluntary collective bargaining process and the preservation of industrial peace. Teamsters v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95, 103-104, 82 S. Ct. 571, 576-77, 7 L. Ed. 2d 593 (1962).
"Although the language of § 301 is limited to suits for violation of contracts, it has been construed quite broadly to cover most state-law actions that require interpretation of labor agreements." Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. Local 302 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, et al., 109 F.3d 1353, 1356 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal quotations omitted). Where the suit requires interpretation of a labor agreement, § 301 "converts an ordinary state law complaint into a federal claim" and empowers the defendant to remove the action to federal court. Id. "State law is thus 'pre-empted' by § 301 in that only the federal law fashioned by the courts under § 301 governs the interpretation and application of collective-bargaining agreements." United Steelworkers, 495 U.S. at 368, 110 S. Ct. at 1909. On the other hand, where a state law-based claim does not require interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement, it is not preempted by federal law. Beals v. Kiewit Pacific Co., Inc., 114 F.3d 892, 895 (9th Cir. 1997); Contract Services Network, Inc. v. Aubry, 62 F.3d 294, 299 (9th Cir. 1995).
Longview asserts, correctly, that O'Sullivan's breach of contract claim is preempted because the terms of his employment, and the conditions under which he could be terminated, were governed by the CBA. Specifically, the CBA provides:
Discharge or suspension of an Employee (not including a temporary suspension pending consideration of discharge) shall be based on just and sufficient cause with full explanation given to the Employee in writing. Proven violations as set forth in the Company's Substance Abuse Policy and Plant Rules, currently in effect or as may hereafter be revised, constitute "just and sufficient cause" for the purpose of this provision.