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Thibodeaux v. Bay Area Building Material Teamsters

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 26, 2017

GEORGE THIBODEAUX Plaintiff,
v.
BAY AREA BUILDING MATERIAL TEAMSTERS, LOCAL 853, Defendant.

          ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS Re: Dkt. No. 11

          MARIA-ELENA JAMES, United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff George Thibodeaux brings this action alleging (1) breach of contract, (2) breach of implied covenant for good faith and fair dealing, (3) intentional misrepresentation, and (4) negligent misrepresentation. Pending before the Court is Defendant Bay Area Building Material Teamsters, Local 853's (“Defendant, ” “Local 853, ” or “Teamsters”) Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. No. 11. Plaintiff filed an Opposition (Dkt. No. 20), and Defendant filed a Reply (Dkt. No. 28). The Court finds the matter suitable for disposition without a hearing. See Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). Having considered the parties' positions, the relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         For twenty years, Plaintiff was employed as a commercial driver by Central Concrete Supply Co. and was a member of Local 853. Compl. ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A. Central Concrete, Local 853, and Plaintiff are governed by the terms of a “written agreement” that prevents terminating an employee without just cause. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiff alleges Central Concrete terminated him without just cause in 2013. Id. ¶ 14. The agreement provides that all disputes arising under the terms of the agreement “shall be resolved” through an escalating dispute resolution procedure. Id. ¶ 20. In the first step, the dispute may be taken up with local management at the discretion of the employee; however, any formal dispute shall be taken up by the local union in the locality with the employer. Id. If the union and the employer are unable to resolve the dispute, the second step requires the dispute to be referred to the Board of Adjustment. Id. If the Board of Adjustment fails to resolve the dispute, at the third step, the dispute “shall be submitted to an impartial arbitrator upon the request of either party.” Id. Plaintiff alleges he requested Local 853 take up a formal dispute with his employer; Local 853 did so. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. When the dispute was not resolved, the Board of Adjustment conducted a hearing. Id. ¶ 17. After the Board of Adjustment failed to resolve the dispute, Local 853 wrote Plaintiff and represented that the “grievance was final and binding. . . . The union has exhausted its defense of your termination under the collective bargaining agreement [‘CBA'].” Id. ¶¶ 17, 18. After Plaintiff discovered Local 853's statement was false, he requested Defendant submit his dispute to an impartial arbitrator pursuant to the terms of the agreement. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. Plaintiff alleges Defendant did not submit his dispute to an impartial arbitrator. Id. ¶ 20.

         Plaintiff initiated this action in California Superior Court against Local 853 alleging four state law claims: breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional misrepresentation, and negligent misrepresentation. See Compl. Defendant removed the action to this Court, asserting the Complaint alleges a breach of the duty of fair representation, a claim that arises under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., a federal question that gives the Court subject matter jurisdiction. See Not. of Removal ¶ 3. The Court found Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), preempted Plaintiff's claims, and denied Plaintiff's motion to remand the action:

The Court finds Local 853 properly removed the action on the grounds that Plaintiff's claims are founded on rights created by the CBA, or alternatively, substantially dependent on the CBA. Plaintiff alleges Local 853 failed to submit his dispute to an independent arbitrator as required by the CBA, thereby breaching the terms of the CBA and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and misrepresented the terms of the CBA in writing. As such, Local 853 “had a right to remove the action on the grounds of LMRA preemption.” Medina v. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers W., 2013 WL 3157923, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 20, 2013); see also Adkins [v. Mireles], 526 F.3d [531, ] 539 [(9th Cir. 2008)].

Order Denying Mot. to Remand at 8-9 (“Remand Order”), Dkt. No. 19.

         Defendant now asks the Court to dismiss the entire action on the ground Plaintiff's claims are barred by the applicable six-month statute of limitations. See Mot.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a party may file a motion to dismiss based on the failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of a complaint as failing to allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A facial plausibility standard is not a “probability requirement” but mandates “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). For purposes of ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court “accept[s] factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe[s] the pleadings in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). “[D]ismissal may be based on either a lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989) (“Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law”).

         Even under the liberal pleading standard of Rule 8(a)(2), under which a party is only required to make “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” a “pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.) “[C]onclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.” Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011) (“[A]llegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively”). The court must be able to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. “[D]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim [for relief] is [a] context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 663-64.

         If a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is granted, the “court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, ...


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