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Anderson v. Akal Security

August 19, 2008

RODNEY GENE ANDERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AKAL SECURITY, INC., UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

From September 2000 through November 30, 2005, Rodney Gene Anderson ("Plaintiff") worked as a Court Security Officer ("CSO") for Akal Security, Inc. ("Defendant"). Plaintiff alleges Defendant failed to transmit supplemental medical information to Defendant United States Marshals Service ("USMS") in April 2005 and again in September 2005, and that this failure resulted in Plaintiff's termination. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges breach of contract. Defendant moves for summary judgment, contending, inter alia, that § 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 preempts Plaintiff's claim.

In a separate motion, Plaintiff moves for partial summary judgment, contending that Defendant breached the parties' employment contract and wrongfully terminated Plaintiff. Because the two motions raise similar issues, both are dealt with in this Order. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.*fn1

BACKGROUND

Defendant is a New Mexico corporation under contract with the USMS to provide CSOs for Ninth Circuit courts, including the Fresno Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. On or about September 25, 2000, Plaintiff submitted an application for employment to Defendant. Shortly thereafter, Defendant hired Plaintiff as a CSO for the federal courthouse in Fresno, California.

Under a contract between Defendant and the USMS ("Contract"), each CSO was required to undergo and pass an annual medical examination to meet USMS CSO medical standards. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. B.)

A collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between Plaintiff's union and Defendant controlled the terms of Plaintiff's employment.

Under the CBA, the "final decision" as to a CSO's removal for failing to meet the requisite medical standards "shall be determined by the [USMS], and [Akal] shall be held harmless by the Union and the employee for any further claims made after this final determination." (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. A.) The CBA also provided that the "grievance procedure shall not be used for any action or order of removal of an Employee from working under the contract by the U.S. Government, or revocation of required CSO credentials by the USMS...." Id.

On or about October 6, 2004, Plaintiff underwent an annual medical evaluation for fiscal year 2005. On February 1, 2005, A.L. Chelton, M.D., MPH, issued Plaintiff a "Judicial Security Division Medical Review Form," stating that Plaintiff's medical determination was deferred pending further documentation. On February 18, 2005, Defendant communicated to Plaintiff that a physician would need to address the issues identified by Dr. Chelton, and that the information would be due on March 17, 2005. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. D.) On March 4, 2005, Plaintiff sent Defendant's Administrator Caroline Burkhalter a handwritten note to request an extension. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. E.) On March 14, 2005, Plaintiff provided Ms. Burkhalter with the results of the audiogram examination (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. G), and on March 16, 2005, he provided her with the results of the cardiac testing (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. H).

At 9:19 a.m. on April 15, 2005, Plaintiff's colleague Anthony N. Guerrero faxed to Ms. Burkhalter a note from John G. Telles, M.D., which stated "[t]he above mentioned person my [sic] return to work without restriction on 4/18/05." (Anderson Decl. in Opp'n to Mot. for Summ. J. Attach.) Ms. Burkhalter shipped a package to the USMS on April 15, 2005. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. I.) A handwritten note on the Federal Express shipping receipt reads "9 ECA Anderson." Id.

On September 16, 2005, the USMS informed Defendant it was missing supplemental medical information for various CSOs, including Plaintiff. (Demas Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. H.) The USMS stated: "If we do not receive the information within 14 days, the non-responsive CSO will be medically disqualified and removed from performing services under the CSO contract." Id. (emphasis in original). On November 15, 2005, Susan Erickson, Contracting Officer for the USMS, informed Defendant the USMS never received the supplemental medical information requested on February 1, 2005 and again on September 14, 2005, and that Defendant must immediately remove Plaintiff from his position. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. J.) On November 16, 2005, Ms. Burkhalter forwarded the results of Plaintiff's audiogram examination and cardiac testing, along with the Federal Express receipt, to Ms. Erickson. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. K.) On November 30, 2005, Ms. Erickson wrote an email to Defendant, stating "[a]fter review of Rodney Anderson's package, the government's doctor is still missing information.

Therefore the government still stands with there [sic] original letter of Disqualification." (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. O.) The same day, Defendant informed Plaintiff the USMS had medically disqualified him and that his termination was effective immediately. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. P.)

On November 22, 2005, Plaintiff filed a grievance with his union under the terms of the CBA. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. Q.) On December 5, 2005, Defendant replied that the CBA prohibited union members from using the grievance procedure to challenge an order of removal by the U.S. Government. (Gunn Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. R.)

On February 22, 2007, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendant, alleging it had failed to forward the requested medical information and documentation to the USMS as was necessary for Plaintiff to continue working as a CSO. Plaintiff's Second Amended ...


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