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Stockton Firefighters' Local 456, International Association of Firefighters v. City of Stockton

September 28, 2010

STOCKTON FIREFIGHTERS' LOCAL 456, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF STOCKTON, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on defendant City of Stockton's ("defendant" or the "City") motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint or, in the alternative, to stay further proceedings. Plaintiff Stockton Firefighters' Local 456, International Association of Firefighters ("plaintiff" or the "Union") opposes the motion. For the reasons set forth below,*fn1 defendant's motion to stay is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

This case arises out of the Union's allegations that the City violated various provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") between the parties. The Union and the City entered into the MOU, which constituted a collective bargaining agreement, spanning the term of July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2011. (Compl., filed July 14, 2010, ¶ 5; Ex. B to Def.'s Request for Judicial Notice ("RJFN"), filed Aug. 9, 2010.) The MOU was amended by a Letter of Agreement ("LOA"), which was approved and adopted by the Stockton City Council in December 2008. (Compl. ¶ 5.) The amended MOU provided that "there shall be no layoffs, alterations in total daily staffing, or company closures for the effective term of this Letter of Agreement." (Ex. C. to RFJN; Compl. ¶ 6.) It also modified certain employee compensation increases that were previously scheduled by the agreement and included a salary adjustment to be effective July 1, 2010. (Compl. ¶ 7.)

On June 22, 2010, the Stockton City Council adopted a resolution purporting to suspend without limitation all provisions of the MOU and LOA that would require the City to grant wage or compensation increases of any kind. (Id. ¶ 8.) The resolution also directed the closure of Stockton Fire Department Truck Company No. 4. (Id.) On July 1, 2010, the City, in accordance with the resolution, failed and refused to carry out salary adjustments. (Id. ¶ 10.) The City contends that the resolution was permitted under the City's inherent municipal and police powers. (Id. ¶ 9.)

On June 28, 2010, the Union filed a Verified Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction Pending Arbitration and for Writ of Prohibition or Other Appropriate Writ Relief (the "Verified Petition"). (Ex. H to RFJN, at 1.) The Petition sought a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction, enjoining respondents, including the City, from imposing any changes to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment provided in the MOU and LOA, including the closure of Truck Company No. 4. (Id. at 15-16.) On June 30, 2010, the Union's application for a temporary restraining order was denied. (Ex. M to RFJN, at 1.) On the same day, respondents filed a Cross-Complaint for Declaratory Relief, seeking a declaration that any impairments to the Union's contract were lawful exercises of the police power granted to the City by the California and United States Constitutions. (Ex. K to RFJN.)

On July 14, 2010, the Union filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Damages. The Union asserts claims for (1) deprivation of rights under the U.S. Constitution; (2) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (3) petition to compel expedited arbitration pursuant to California Labor Code § 1126. The Union, inter alia, seeks equitable relief, including " a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction, enjoining the City . . . from imposing any changes to wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment provided to firefighters represented by the Union as set forth in the existing MOU . . . , including . . . close of Truck Company No. 4." (Compl. at 6.)

STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), a pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Under notice pleading in federal court, the complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotations omitted). "This simplified notice pleading standard relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002).

On a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). The court is bound to give plaintiff the benefit of every reasonable inference to be drawn from the "well-pleaded" allegations of the complaint. Retail Clerks Int'l Ass'n v. Schermerhorn, 373 U.S. 746, 753 n.6 (1963). A plaintiff need not allege "'specific facts' beyond those necessary to state his claim and the grounds showing entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has 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." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Nevertheless, the court "need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations." United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986). While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. A pleading is insufficient if it offers mere "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."). Moreover, it is inappropriate to assume that the plaintiff "can prove facts which it has not alleged or that the defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).

Ultimately, the court may not dismiss a complaint in which the plaintiff has alleged "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007)). Only where a plaintiff has failed to "nudge [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible," is the complaint properly dismissed. Id. at 1952. While the plausibility requirement is not akin to a probability requirement, it demands more than "a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. at 1949. This plausibility inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950.

In ruling upon a motion to dismiss, the court may consider only the complaint, any exhibits thereto, and matters which may be judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201.

See Mir v. Little Co. Of Mary Hospital, 844 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1988); Isuzu Motors Ltd. v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc., 12 F. ...


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