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Maurer v. International Brotherhood of Electical Workers

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 4, 2016

MARTIN MAURER, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, LOCAL 569, AFL-CIO, an unincorporated association, and; SAN DIEGO ELECTRICAL JOINT APPRENTICESHIP AND TRAINING COMMITTEE, a non-profit corporation and trust, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS [ECF NO. 4, 7]

          Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel United States District Judge

         Before the Court are Defendants San Diego Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee’s (“JATC”) Motion to Dismiss (“JATC Mot.”), ECF No. 4, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 569, AFL-CIO’s (“IBEW”) Motion to Dismiss, (“IBEW Mot.”), ECF No. 7. Upon consideration of the moving papers and the applicable law, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS both JATC’s and IBEW’s Motion to Dismiss without prejudice.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On January 10, 2012, pro se Plaintiff Martin Maurer (“Plaintiff”) entered into an apprentice agreement with JATC, Compl. ¶ 25, ECF No. 1, which Plaintiff alleges is “a joint apprentice committee under a collective bargaining agreement within the meaning of Cal. Lab. Code Ann. §3075(a).” Id. ¶ 10. On March 1, 2012, Plaintiff was admitted into the IBEW, Id. ¶ 26, which Plaintiff alleges is a labor organization within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 152(5). Id. ¶ 8. On February 18, 2015, Plaintiff was dispatched to work as an electrician for Five Star Electric. Id. ¶ 7. On February 27, 2015, Plaintiff was fired from his job when he was handed a Termination Notice by an acting foreman of Five Star Electric; no reason was given for the termination. Id. ¶ 28.

         On March 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance with the IBEW office, challenging the lack of reasons for his termination. Id. ¶ 31. On March 30, 2015, Plaintiff received a letter from JATC stating that Plaintiff was “to show-cause” why JATC should not recommend to the Administrator of Apprenticeship (“Administrator”) that Plaintiff’s apprenticeship agreement be canceled in light of his termination from Five Star Electric. Id. ¶ 32. Plaintiff received this letter one day prior to a hearing before JATC, which occurred on March 31, 2015. Id. At the hearing, Plaintiff was informed that the grievance he filed did not have merit. Id. ¶ 35.

         On April 5, 2015, Plaintiff received a letter from JATC stating that JATC made a decision to apply to the Administrator to cancel Appellant’s apprenticeship agreement effective March 31, 2015. Id. ¶ 36. Sometime between March 31, 2015 and May 14, 2015, Plaintiff’s union classification was changed from “Apprentice Wireman” to “Unclassified.” Id. ¶ 38. Although the Complaint does not specifically address what happened next, it appears that Plaintiff appealed this decision to the Administrator. Id. ¶ 54. On January 29, 2016, the Administrator decided that JATC failed to demonstrate a good and sufficient reason for canceling Plaintiff’s apprenticeship agreement and reinstated Plaintiff to the apprentice agreement. Id. ¶ 54-55. / / /

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants JATC and IBEW alleging six causes of action against both Defendants. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff brings the First, Second, and Third causes of action under section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185, alleging that Defendants breached their contractual obligations by unfairly and unreasonably terminating Plaintiff’s apprenticeship agreement. Compl. ¶ 1. Plaintiff brings the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth causes of action under section 101(a)(5) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (“LMRDA”), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5), alleging that defendants infringed upon his rights by bringing improper disciplinary action. Id. ¶ 2. Both Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 4, 7.

         CAUSES OF ACTION

         1. In the First cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants breached the “IBEW Constitution” by removing Plaintiff from JATC’s apprenticeship program and reclassifying plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 62. Plaintiff alleges that the IBEW Constitution is a contract between Plaintiff and IBEW, within the meaning of section 301 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185, which requires that disciplinary charges be brought by the local union’s Executive Board following specific safeguards. Id. ¶ 61.

         2. In the Second cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that IBEW breached the “Inside Agreement” by failing to require Five Star Electric to provide Plaintiff with a termination slip stating the reason for his termination. Id. ¶ 66. (Plaintiff also refers to the Inside Agreement as the “collective bargaining agreement.” See Id. ¶ 13(b).) Plaintiff alleges that the Inside Agreement is a contract between Plaintiff and IBEW, within the meaning of section 301 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185, which requires that electricians to be terminated be given a termination slip stating the reason for the termination. Id. ¶ 65.

         3. In the Third cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants breached the “National Standards” by accepting and introducing an apprentice evaluation form in a disciplinary hearing that was not filled out by the journeyman working with Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 70. (Plaintiff also refers to the National Standards as the “National Guidelines.” See Id. ¶ 13(d).) Plaintiff alleges that the National Standards is a contract between Plaintiff and IBEW, within the meaning of section 301 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185, which requires that apprentice evaluation forms be filled out by the journeyman the apprentice works with. Id. ¶ 69.

         4. In the Fourth cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants infringed upon Plaintiff’s rights pursuant to section 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5)(A), by ordering Plaintiff to show cause why he should not be removed from the JATC’s apprenticeship program “without serving plaintiff with written specific charges.” Id. ¶ 74.

         5. In the Fifth cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants infringed upon Plaintiff’s rights pursuant to section 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5)(B), by giving Plaintiff only one-day written notice to “show cause” why he should not be expelled from JATC’s apprenticeship program with only one-day written notice. Id. ¶ 78.

         6. In the Sixth cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants infringed upon Plaintiff’s rights pursuant to section 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5)(C), by deciding to expel Plaintiff from the JATC’s apprenticeship program “without a full and fair hearing.” Id. ¶ 82.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         I. Motion to Dismiss

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984); see Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989). Alternatively, a complaint may be dismissed where it presents a cognizable legal theory yet fails to plead essential facts under that theory. Robertson, 749 F.2d at 534. While a plaintiff need not give “detailed factual allegations, ” a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts that, if true, “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007).

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547). A claim is facially plausible when the factual allegations permit “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. In other words, “the non-conclusory ‘factual content, ’ and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.” Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must construe all inferences from them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002); Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Legal conclusions, however, need not be taken as true merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2003); W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981).

         In the case of a pro se plaintiff, the court is to construe the complaint with even greater liberality than it would formally drafted pleadings. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980).

         II. ...


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