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KINDNESS v. BETHLEHEM STEEL CORP.

November 9, 1987

MICHAEL KINDNESS, Plaintiff,
v.
BETHLEHEM STEEL CORPORATION; DONALD J. SPANG and ROBERT A. YOHE, Defendants


Sylvia H. Rambo, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RAMBO

SYLVIA H. RAMBO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Factual Background

 The undisputed facts are as follows. At all times relevant to this action plaintiff was employed as a millwright by Bethlehem Steel Corporation ("the corporation") at the corporation's Steelton plant in Steelton, Pennsylvania. Defendants Robert A. Yohe and Donald J. Spang were employed as managers at the corporation's Steelton plant.

 Plaintiff's employment was governed by a collective bargaining agreement, dated March 1, 1983, to which plaintiff's union, the United Steelworkers of America, Local Union No. 1688 ("the Union"), and the corporation were parties.

 On August 16, 1984, Spang was told by Yohe of an alleged incident of fighting between plaintiff and another employee, Clarence White. Allegedly, plaintiff grabbed White's head in a hammerlock hold, injuring White's right eye and damaging his eye glasses. At the conclusion of the corporation's investigation, plaintiff was notified, in accordance with the requirements of the bargaining agreement, of management's decision to suspend him with intent to discharge him. *fn1" Plaintiff informed Spang, by written notice, he would appeal management's decision. Plaintiff was then sent a letter which stated the reasons for his discharge.

 A discharge hearing was conducted on August 31, 1984 before a hearing officer. Plaintiff, the Union and Spang were in attendance. The hearing officer, in a memorandum to Spang dated September 5, 1984, recommended plaintiff not be discharged but suspended for thirty (30) days without pay. Management adopted this recommendation, and notified plaintiff in writing on or about September 6, 1984.

 The Union filed a grievance on behalf of plaintiff on or about September 10, 1984. Plaintiff was represented by the Union throughout. Plaintiff's grievance was ultimately denied, and the Union appealed plaintiff's grievance to arbitration.

 The arbitration hearing was held on January 20, 1986 before an umpire. Plaintiff was represented by the Union and the Union was represented by counsel. Spang and Yohe testified as to what they learned during the investigation of the alleged altercation. Plaintiff testified, and there were various documents presented as well.

 On May 22, 1986 the umpire issued his ruling in favor of the corporation, upholding plaintiff's suspension and denying his grievance. Under the collective bargaining agreement, the umpire's decision is final and binding on the corporation, the Union, and the employee.

 Procedural Background

 The court granted plaintiff's motion to file a first amended complaint. The amended complaint realleged the defamation charges against Spang and Yohe and added as party defendants the corporation and the Union. Plaintiff alleged, although not in so many words, a cause of action against the corporation for wrongful suspension after an inadequate investigation and a corrupt hearing. Plaintiff alleged a cause of action against the Union for breach of their duty of fair representation.

 The Union filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice on limitations grounds. In granting the Union's motion and ordering the Union removed from the action, the court found plaintiff failed to satisfy the relation back requirements for amended complaints as set forth in Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of ...


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