United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND (DKT.
VIRGINIA A. PHILLIPS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (the
“Motion”). (Dkt. 17). Defendants filed their
Opposition on November 11, 2019 (Dkt. 23), and Plaintiff
replied on November 20, 2019 (Dkt. 24). The Court finds the
matter suitable for decision without a hearing pursuant to
Local Rule 7-15. After considering all papers filed in
support of, and in opposition to, the Motion, the Court
DENIES the Motion to Remand.
is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage
Employees (the “Union”). (Dkt. 17 at 7). The
Union and Defendants, a collection of entities and
individuals that allegedly own, manage, lease, or are
otherwise affiliated with the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles,
California, are parties to a collective bargaining agreement
(“CBA”) governing the employment of Union members
by Defendants. (Dkt. 3, 25-29). Plaintiff claims, inter
alia, that Defendants fired him in violation of the
terms of the CBA. (Id. at 33-41).
Plaintiff alleges that, on or about July 12, 2016, Plaintiff
accepted a job with Defendants to perform between two and
twelve weeks of work as a stage technician, with the
possibility of follow-on work. (Id. at 28-30).
Defendants allegedly discharged Plaintiff the morning of July
12, 2016 and, after Plaintiff re-applied for and accepted the
same position, again the following morning. (Id. at
29). Plaintiff states he believes he was fired on the basis
of age and in retaliation for having previously filed
grievances against Defendants. (Id. at 30).
filed this lawsuit in California state court on October 19,
2018. (Id. at 6). Following several amendments to
the complaint, Defendants timely removed the case to federal
court on October 3, 2019. (Dkt. 1).
October 18, 2019, this Court issued an Order to Show Cause
(“OSC”) why the Court should not dismiss
Plaintiff's claim for breach of contract. (Dkt. 16). The
Court noted the record did not reflect that Plaintiff had
exhausted his remedies under the CBA prior to bringing this
lawsuit, as required by Section 301(a) of the Labor
Management Relations Act (“LMRA”). (Id.
at 2). The Court granted an extension to respond to the OSC
while the instant Motion was pending. (Dkt. 21).
argues remand is appropriate because his first claim, for
breach of contract, neither arises from nor requires
interpretation of the CBA, and therefore the Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. (Dkt. 17 at 13-17).
federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441, provides
that any civil action brought in state court may be removed
to a federal district court that would have had original
jurisdiction over the same matter. A federal court must,
however, remand the case if it finds there is no diversity of
citizenship or the claims do not arise under federal law. 28
U.S.C.A. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”;
see also Int'l Primate Prot. League v. Admin. of
Tulane Educ. Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 87 (1991). Removal
statutes are strictly construed against removal jurisdiction.
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 108 (1941); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564,
566 (9th Cir. 1992).
301(a) of the LMRA “gives federal courts subject matter
jurisdiction over “[s]uits for violation of contracts
between an employer and a labor organization.” 29
U.S.C.A. § 185. “Section 301 is on its face a
jurisdictional statute, under which ‘[s]uits for
violation of contracts between an employer and a labor
organization representing employees in an industry affecting
commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such
labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of
the United States having jurisdiction of the
parties.'” Cramer v. Consol. Freightways,
Inc., 255 F.3d 683, 689 (9th Cir. 2001), as amended
(Aug. 27, 2001) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 185(a)).
Supreme Court has long held that § 301 “preempts
the use of state contract law in CBA interpretation and
enforcement.” Id. at 689 (citing Local
174, Teamsters of Am. v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95,
103-04 (1962)). Not all claims implicating collectively
bargained agreements raise a federal question, however:
§ 301 preempts only “claims founded directly on
rights created by collective-bargaining agreements, and also
claims substantially dependent on analysis of a
collective-bargaining agreement.” Caterpillar, Inc.
v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 394 (1987) (quotation marks
and citation omitted); see also Livadas v. Bradshaw,
512 U.S. 107, 122-24 (1994) (“[W]hen the meaning of
contract terms is not the subject of dispute, the bare fact
that a collective-bargaining agreement will be consulted in
the course of state-law litigation plainly does not require
the claim to be extinguished.”). “If the
plaintiff's claim cannot be resolved without interpreting
the applicable CBA . . . it is preempted. Alternatively, if
the claim may be litigated without reference to the rights
and duties established in a CBA . . . it is not
preempted.” Cramer, 255 F.3d at 691 (internal
contends his breach of contract claim does not derive from or
substantially depend on analysis of the CBA, though he
“acknowledges that on the face of the First Amended
Complaint, it appears to state that the contract at issue
arises out of the CBA.” (Dkt. 17 at 15). He argues that
Union members' employment with Defendants was governed by
both the CBA and an unwritten “custom and practice,
” the latter effectively a second agreement under which
Plaintiff was entitled to retain his stage technician
position. (Dkt. 17 at 15). Plaintiff submits that “the
substance of the [breach of contract] claim is an
extra-contractual agreement between ...