League and the Commissioner's Office began to issue statements
to intimidate the umpires and erode support for Richard Phillips
and the MLUA. Defendants Brinkman, Hirschbeck, and Shapiro made
false statements attacking Richard Phillips as incompetent and
urged umpires to rescind their resignations, disavow their
support for the MLUA, and seek termination of the Retainer
Agreement. The Commissioner Employees also advised Shapiro and
Hirschbeck that the Leagues would enter into a more favorable
collective bargaining agreement with the umpires if Plaintiffs
were not MLUA counsel, would refuse to bargain with the MLUA if
Plaintiffs remained MLUA's counsel, and would indemnify the MLUA
for damages in connection with any breach of the Retainer
Agreement. This allegedly false information was disseminated to
MLUA members, causing them to rescind their resignations.
On July 22, 1999, Selig, the Commissioner Employees, and
League representatives met and Selig proposed a plan to hire
replacement umpires from the minor leagues for the purpose of
coercing the MLUA to eliminate its relationship with Plaintiffs.
The plan would deprive the MLUA membership of the right to
rescind their resignations and hence eliminate support for
Plaintiffs. The Leagues opposed the plan, but Selig forced them
to acquiesce. The Commissioner Employees told Hirschbeck,
Brinkman, and Shapiro of the plan so that they could warn select
members of the MLUA to rescind their resignations. Following the
July 22 meeting, at the behest of the Commissioner Employees,
the Leagues hired twenty-five new umpires and refused to permit
rescission of the resignations of twenty-two MLUA members.
Hirschbeck, Brinkman, and Shapiro sought David Phillips and
Welke's help in convincing MLUA members to terminate the MLUA's
relationship with Plaintiffs. Subsequently, the Umpires,
Shapiro, and the Shapiro Firm made various defamatory statements
to MLUA members and the public about Plaintiffs' integrity,
professional competence and ethics. These Defendants also told
MLUA members that the Commissioner would refuse to negotiate
with Plaintiffs. Later, these Defendants organized efforts to
decertify the MLUA and created the WUA to replace the MLUA as
the bargaining representative for major league umpires. On
February 24, 2000, the major league umpires voted to decertify
the MLUA in favor of the WUA. Plaintiffs believe that the
establishment and certification of the WUA is a guise to
terminate the relationship between Plaintiffs and the major
league umpires, and install Shapiro and the Shapiro Firm as
legal counsel to the major league umpires.
Plaintiffs' Complaint states ten counts all of which
purportedly arise under state law, including tortious
interference with existing and prospective contract, defamation,
invasion of privacy, fraudulent conveyance, injurious falsehood,
conspiracy, commercial disparagement, unjust enrichment, and
breach of contract. On January 24, 2001, Defendants Shapiro and
the Shapiro Firm filed a timely Notice of Removal to which all
Defendants separately consented. The Notice of Removal states
that the Complaint's claims are completely preempted by section
301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"),
29 U.S.C. § 185, because they are dependent upon an interpretation of
contracts between an employer and a labor organization
representing employees in an industry affecting commerce.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Removability is determined from a plaintiffs pleadings at the
removal. See American Fire & Casualty Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6,
14, 71 S.Ct. 534, 95 L.Ed. 702 (1951). A defendant may remove a
civil action filed in state court if the federal court would
have had original jurisdiction to hear the matter.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) (1994); Boyer v. Snap-On Tools Corp., 913 F.2d 108,
111 (3d Cir.), cert. denied 498 U.S. 1085, 111 S.Ct. 959, 112
L.Ed.2d 1046 (1991). The defendant bears the burden of
establishing removal jurisdiction and compliance with all
pertinent procedural requirements. Boyer, 913 F.2d at 111.
Once the case has been removed, the court may remand if the
removal is procedurally defective or subject matter jurisdiction
is lacking. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (1994). All doubts should be
resolved in favor of remand. Boyer, 913 F.2d at 111.
Plaintiffs seek remand of this action on several grounds.
Primarily, Plaintiffs argue that the Complaint alleges solely
state law claims in relation to a contract that is not subject
to the LMRA and does not state any claims under the LMRA.
Alternatively, Plaintiffs claim that the removal was
procedurally defective because Defendants failed to attach two
orders of the Court of Common Pleas to the Notice of Removal,
and Defendant David Phillips failed to consent to removal within
thirty days of service of the Complaint. The Court determines
that removal of this case was inappropriate because the claims
raised in this case do not arise under section 301 of the LMRA.
Accordingly, the case will be remanded for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction to the Court of Common Pleas for
Only state-court actions that originally could have been filed
in federal court may be removed to federal court by the
defendant. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392,
107 S.Ct. 2425, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). Accordingly, absent
diversity of citizenship, federal-question jurisdiction is
required for removal. Id. The presence or absence of
federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the "well-pleaded
complaint rule," which provides that federal jurisdiction exists
only when a federal question is presented on the face of the
plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint. Id.; Dukes v. U.S.
Healthcare, Inc., 57 F.3d 350, 353 (3d Cir. 1995). Under the
well-pleaded complaint rule, a case ordinarily may not be
removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense,
including the defense of preemption, even if the defense is
anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint, and even if both
parties concede that the federal defense is the only question
truly at issue. Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393, 107 S.Ct. 2425
(citing Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation
Trust for Southern Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 12, 103 S.Ct. 2841, 77
L.Ed.2d 420 (1983)). An exception to the well-pleaded complaint
rule exists, however, where Congress has so completely preempted
a particular area of law that any civil complaint raising that
group of claims is necessarily federal in character.
Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63-64, 107
S.Ct. 1542, 95 L.Ed.2d 55 (1987).
Section 301(a) of the LMRA provides:
[s]uits for violations of contracts between an
employer and a labor organization representing
employees in an industry affecting commerce . . . may
be brought in any District Court of the United States
having jurisdiction over the parties.
29 U.S.C. § 185(a) (1994). Section 301 is not only
jurisdictional, "it authorizes federal courts to fashion a body
of federal law for the enforcement of these collective
bargaining agreements." Beidelman v. Stroh Brewery Co.,