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DAVID A. NOBERS v. CRUCIBLE (07/25/88)

filed: July 25, 1988.

DAVID A. NOBERS, ROBERT R. CAMPBELL, JR., GASPER P. PORTO, AND GARY T. WEEKLY, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, APPELLANT,
v.
CRUCIBLE, INC., A CORPORATION AND COLT INDUSTRIES, INC., A CORPORATION, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, Civil at No. 843-1984.

COUNSEL

Gregory Gleason, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Walter G. Bleil, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Tamilia, Popovich and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 376 Pa. Super. Page 157]

This is an appeal from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County granting the preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer as to jurisdiction against the appellants/plaintiffs (David A. Nobers, Robert R. Campbell, Jr., Gasper P. Porto and Gary T. Weekly,

[ 376 Pa. Super. Page 158]

    individually, and on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated). We reverse.

Since review of the sustainment of preliminary objections in the nature of demurrer is sought, the well-pleaded factual allegations set forth in the complaint are to be regarded as true. Itri v. Equibank, N.A., 318 Pa. Super. 268, 464 A.2d 1336 (1983). Further, if the facts as pleaded state a claim for which relief may be granted under any theory of the law, then there is sufficient doubt to require the preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer to be rejected. Mazzagatti v. Everingham, 512 Pa. 266, 516 A.2d 672 (1986).

Viewed in this light, the record indicates that the plaintiffs filed a two-count complaint seeking "class action" certification to recoup damages from the appellees/defendants (Colt Industries, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Crucible, Inc., now incorporated as Colt Industries Operating Corp.) for violation of an alleged oral agreement/implied contract whereby the class of plaintiffs was "explicitly promised", at the time of promotion from a collective bargaining unit to a supervisory or managerial position, "a right to return to the bargaining unit from which promoted at the time of layoff or to be treated as a bargaining unit person on layoff status." (Paragraph 36)

Prior to the defendants ultimately closing all or part of their plant in Midland, the plaintiffs were laid-off or discharged as salaried employees instead of being returned to the bargaining unit out of which they initially were promoted or allowed to maintain laid-off status in the same unit. This, the plaintiffs contended, resulted in their incurment of damages "in the form of lost supplemental unemployment benefits . . . . lost immediate pension benefits . . . . lost pension benefits . . . . [and] lost insurance benefits." (Paragraphs 43-46, 50-53)

Thereafter, the defendants filed a petition seeking to remove the suit to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on grounds of compliance with 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441 (Diversity of citizenship

[ 376 Pa. Super. Page 159]

    and amount in controversy exceeded $10,000), as well as pendent and ancillary jurisdiction, the latter of which referred to the District Court's prior ruling in favor of the defendants regarding the same subject matter in Nobers, et al. v. Crucible, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 821846 (W.D.Pa. 1982), aff'd mem., 722 F.2d 733 (3rd Cir.1983) warranting such a removal.

The plaintiffs responded by submitting a motion with the same court seeking to remand the case to Common Pleas Court. Therein, they claimed that the joint actions of the defendants, which were inseparable and not discrete, rendered removal under Section 1441 inappropriate. Further, because the prior federal suit involved additional parties not presently named, was based on the Labor Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C. § 185) and was brought to enforce the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, as compared to an express or implied contract of employment, it was averred that "[t]here was no factual nexus between the two cases to which the principles of res judicata or collateral estoppel appl[ied] such that the Court's ancillary or pendent jurisdiction m[ight] be the basis for removal of the[] proceedings." The District Court agreed and entered an order to that effect on February 8, 1985. 602 F.Supp. 703.

Twenty days after the District Court remanded the suit to Common Pleas Court, the defendants filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer contemporaneously with presenting a complaint in ...


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