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HENDERSON v. MERCK & CO.

March 16, 1998

BARNEY HENDERSON, Plaintiff
v.
MERCK & COMPANY, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODY

 Anita B. Brody, J.

 March 16, 1998

 Plaintiff Barney Henderson ("Henderson") brings this suit against his former employer, Defendant Merck & Company, Inc. ("Merck"), asserting state law claims of breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and detrimental reliance. All of the claims are founded upon Pennsylvania law.

 Merck files a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, contending that Henderson's state law claims are preempted by Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185 et. seq. ("Section 301"), because Henderson's employment with Merck was governed by the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement between Merck and Local 8-86 of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union("Local 8-86"). Henderson filed a response to Merck's Motion, and also filed a Cross Motion to Remand to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Both parties have filed several supplemental briefs on the Motions and have provided evidence regarding federal jurisdiction. This matter is presently before me on both of these motions, and they will be dealt with together since the principal issue in deciding both is whether Henderson's state law claims are preempted under § 301.

 Merck employed Henderson as an equipment and glassware washer from October 6, 1976 until May 1, 1995. In 1991, Henderson was referred by Merck for treatment of an alcohol problem. As a result of this referral, he was required to report to Merck's physician on a weekly basis for a period of one year. In 1994, Henderson voluntarily entered an alcohol treatment program through the Veterans' Administration and notified his supervisor at Merck that he had entered this program. After the notification, Merck again required Henderson to report to Merck's physician on a weekly basis. Merck discharged Henderson on April 5, 1995, because of his failure to attend one of his required doctor's appointments for monitoring his alcohol problem.

 According to the complaint, when Henderson began his employment, Merck offered an employment manual as an "inducement" for employment, and Henderson entered into employment in reliance on the manual's promises and conditions. Compl. PP 5, 24-26. Henderson attaches four pages from the employment manual to his complaint, one of which contains provisions encouraging employees to seek treatment of alcohol problems. Compl., Exh. A, "Policy on Alcoholism." *fn1" The page entitled "Policy on Alcoholism" is dated "effective 4/1/85." Compl., Exh. A.

 On April 10, 1995, Henderson filed a grievance against Merck regarding his discharge, pursuant to the grievance and arbitration provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, which Henderson was party to as a member of Local 8-86. Compl. P 12. As a result of the union grievance process, Merck offered Henderson his job back on the condition that he sign a settlement agreement, which, inter alia, would have converted his discharge into a thirty day unpaid suspension and placed him on probation for a two year period. Compl. P13, Exh. B. Henderson declined the settlement agreement and accepted retirement.

 Henderson filed this action in March 1997 in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County alleging state law claims of breach of contract based on the employment manual, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and detrimental reliance. The complaint did not make any reference to a collective bargaining agreement. On June 12, 1997, Merck removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441, arguing that because Henderson was protected by a collective bargaining agreement, Henderson's state law claims are preempted by § 301.

 The parties dispute whether Henderson was protected by a collective bargaining agreement throughout his employment with Merck. I find that the evidence submitted by both parties on this issue shows that Henderson was protected by a collective bargaining agreement between Merck and Local 8-86 from October 6, 1976, Henderson's first day of work at Merck, until May 1, 1995, Henderson's final day of work. See Defendant's Supplemental Brief on Jurisdiction ("Def.'s Suppl. Jur."), Exh. A (attaching Master Agreements and Local Supplemental Agreements between Merck and Local 8-86 dated May 1, 1975, May 1, 1978, May 1, 1981, May 1, 1984, May 1, 1988, April 30, 1991, and May 1, 1995); Def.'s Suppl. Jur., Exh. B (attaching plaintiff's voluntary union check-off authorization for Local 8-86, signed by Henderson on October 6, 1976; Pulli Decl.

 II. Motion for Remand

 In its notice of removal, Merck contends that this court has jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims because they can only be resolved by reference to a collective bargaining agreement, and, therefore, are subject to complete preemption by § 301, which exclusively governs claims arising under collective bargaining agreements. Henderson argues that his claims are not based on a collective bargaining agreement, but on a separate and independent contract (stemming from the employment manual and assorted oral and implied promises) and, therefore, are properly remanded to state court.

 In deciding whether this action should be remanded, I must resolve two inquiries: first, whether Henderson's complaint relies upon federal law as a ground for recovery, and, second, if it does not, whether it states a claim that is "completely preempted" by federal law.

 A. Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule

 Ordinarily, whether a case is one "arising under" the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States, and therefore properly removable to the district court is determined by the district court's examination of a plaintiff's claims under the well-pleaded complaint rule. See Franchise Tax Board v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 9-12, 77 L. Ed. 2d 420, 103 S. Ct. 2841 (1983); Dukes v. U.S. Healthcare, Inc., 57 F.3d 350, 353 (3d Cir. 1995). The well-pleaded complaint rule requires that the federal question be presented on the face of the plaintiff's complaint. See Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 62, 95 L. Ed. 2d 55, 107 S. Ct. 1542 (1987). Henderson's complaint seeks damages for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and detrimental reliance. In no instance ...


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