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Unite Here International Union v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 25, 2016




         This matter[1] is before the Court pursuant to Respondent Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indian’s (hereinafter referred to as “Respondent” or “Tribe”) Motion to Dismiss Petitioner Unite Here International Union’s (hereinafter referred to as “Petitioner” or “Union”) Petition to Compel Arbitration for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF Nos. 6, 2.) For the reasons set forth below, Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.


         According to Petitioner, Respondent Tribe owns and operates the Red Hawk Casino gaming facility in El Dorado County, California. Respondent is an employer within the meaning of Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C §185 (“LMRA §301”). Casino employees Christopher Garrigues and Kerry Bond were both terminated by Respondent. Petitioner is a labor organization representing employees in industries affecting commerce within the meaning of LMRA §301, and represents the two employees in this matter. Respondent has waived its sovereign immunity and its duty to exhaust tribal remedies. (See ECF No. 2 at ¶¶ 2- 17.)

         Petitioner and Respondent entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (hereafter “MOA”) on or about June 26, 2012. Paragraph 10 of the MOA sets out procedures for resolving disputes and provides in relevant part:

The Parties agree that any disputes over the interpretation or application of this Agreement shall be submitted first to mediation arranged through a mutually agreeable mediator such as, by way of illustration only, the American Arbitration Association. If after a minimum of 30 business days after submission of the dispute to a mediator, a mutually satisfactory resolution is not produced by mediation, or if after a maximum of 15 business days a mutually agreeable mediator is not chosen after impasse over any dispute, then either the Tribe or the Union may submit the dispute(s) to expedited and binding arbitration before an arbitrator selected from the TLP. The arbitrator shall not modify, add to or subtract from this Agreement.

(ECF No. 2 at ¶ 16.)

         In November 2015, Petitioner notified Respondent of a dispute about the “interpretation of application of the MOA, ” which involved alleged violations of the MOA by casino managers in the form of threats to employees, surveillance, their giving instructions that employees could not talk about Petitioner Union, and the discharge of Chris Garrigues. (ECF No. 2 at ¶ 18.)Petitioner then submitted the dispute to arbitration. The parties selected a mediator and a mediation date, and agreed that issues left unresolved after mediation would be submitted to arbitration. (ECF No. 2 at ¶¶ 19-20.) The parties ultimately agreed to address issues beyond those originally discussed as well as to set out the issues in non-confidential mediation briefs. (ECF No. 2 at ¶ 22.) The mediation was held on the agreed date of January 7, 2016 but did not result in resolution of the dispute. (ECF No. 2 at ¶ 23.)

         Eventually, on January 27, 2016, respective counsel for Petitioner and Respondent communicated regarding arbitration of the dispute. On January 28, 2016, Respondent’s counsel agreed that John Kagel - rather than the original meditator - would serve as the arbitrator. (ECF No. 2 ¶¶ 25-26.) It appears no arbitration took place, and Petitioner has now filed the instant suit. Specifically, Petitioner seeks to “compel the Tribe to submit to arbitration before Arbitrator Kagel all disputes with the Union regarding interpretation or application of the [MOA] pursuant to paragraph 10 of the [MOA], including but not limited to disputes over the discharges of Chris Garrigues and Kerry Bond.” (ECF No. 2 at 6.)


         Petitioner filed the instant Petition to Compel Arbitration on February 22, 2016. (ECF No. 2.) On March 21, 2016, Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 6.) On or about May 4, 2016, Petitioner filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 7.) On May 12, 2016, Respondent filed a Reply. (ECF No. 9.)


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (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 Atl. 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). A 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 ...

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