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UNITED MINE WKRS. OF AM. v. LEHIGH COAL AND NAVIGATION CO.

December 6, 2004.

UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICAN, DISTRICT 2; LOCAL UNION 1571 UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA; LOCAL UNION 4004 UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, Plaintiffs
v.
LEHIGH COAL AND NAVIGATION COMPANY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MUNLEY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court are Plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend (Doc. 61) and Defendant's motion in limine (Doc. 70) seeking to exclude evidence of various employment actions occurring in 2003. For the following reasons, we will deny both motions.

I. Background

  Defendant LCN has operated a full-scale coal mining operation on its property since its inception in 1989. LCN has had a series of collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs") with the UMWA plaintiffs, the last one of which expired in May 2002. Under the terms of the most recent CBA, ("1998 Wage Agreement" or "Agreement") all coal mining, processing and jobs related to the operation were to be done by UMWA employees. See Plaintiffs' App. B. These employees, inter alia, mined the coal, operated and maintained the processing plant, maintained and drove the equipment, drilled, welded, screened silt products and performed electrical work. See Plaintiffs' App. B; App. C, p. 29.

  Nardini and Sons is a lessee of LCN. In 1996, Nardini and LCN signed an agreement which provided that Nardini would conduct coal mining operations on LCN property whereupon LCN would have the right of first refusal to buy the coal extracted. The agreement also contemplated that the coal that Nardini extracted would be processed at the LCN preparation plant. In 1999, the UMWA filed a grievance because LCN was allowing Nardini to remove raw coal from the LCN property and have it processed off site by non-UMWA employees. Asserting that this was a violation of the 1998 Wage Agreement, the grievance was processed to arbitration and heard by Arbitrator Skonier who issued an award in November 1999. That award issued by Skonier ("Skonier Decision") found that LCN had, indeed, violated the provisions of Article 2 of the CBA, and he ordered that LCN cease and desist from violating it in the future. The Skonier Decision found that the CBA required LCN to have all coal mined from its property processed by UMWA employees and that by allowing Nardini to process the coal elsewhere, LCN violated the Agreement.

  In January 2001, LCN laid off all of its UMWA hourly workers; at that time, there were approximately 220-250 UMWA members from both Local 1571 and 4004 employed at LCN. Since November 2002, only five or six of those laid off miners have been recalled to work at LCN. After January 2001, all mining on LCN property was done by Nardini and a subcontractor, KA Ash. KA Ash does coal removal, silt removal and some reclamation work. Prior to January 2001, the UMWA employees performed the screening of silt material, as well as some of the reclamation work which, since January 2001, has been done by either Nardini or KA Ash. The coal that Nardini and KA Ash removed all went to preparation plants off LCN property, and was not processed by UMWA employees. On October 16, 2001, Plaintiffs filed a grievance, which was subsequently arbitrated by Arbitrator Martha Cooper. On March 29, 2002, Plaintiffs filed the instant suit seeking to enforce the Skonier Decision. On April 17, 2002, Arbitrator Cooper distinguished the Skonier opinion and found that coal sold for processing to non-union South Tamaqua Coal Pockets ("Pockets") sometime after July 2001 and before October 2001 did not violate the 1998 Wage Agreement. Shortly thereafter, in May 2002, the 1998 Wage Agreement expired.

  II. Jurisdiction

  We have federal question jurisdiction*fn1 pursuant to Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA") § 301, 29 U.S.C. 185 ("Section 301"). Section 301 provides,
Suits 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, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties.
29 U.S.C. 185

  III. Discussion

  A. Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend its Complaint

  Trial in this case is schedule for December 13, 2004. Plaintiffs filed the instant motion for leave to file a second amended complaint on December 1, 2004. Plaintiffs argue that they seek to amend their complaint to comport with our summary judgment memorandum decision of April 27, 2004, wherein we found material issues of genuine fact in the case, including "whether the LCN breaker was ever operational during the time complained of, whether coal was `diverted' to avoid the constraints of the CBA and whether the UMWA has been deprived of work." (Summary J. Memo. at 7, Doc. 39). Plaintiffs state that their second amended complaint comports with this opinion by limiting their claim to the time periods from "November 1999 (the date of Arbitrator Skonier's award) until January 2001 and then again from December 2002 to date, when the LCN breaker has been operational." (Pl. Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Amend ¶ 5). Plaintiffs argue that the proposed amended complaint "does not add any new causes of action and the factual bases were all part of the nexus of facts underlying the motion for summary judgment." (Pl. Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Amend ¶ 6). Defendant argues that the amended complaint contains new allegations and their inclusion at this late stage of the litigation would prejudice them. We agree that the amended complaint contains new factual and legal bases for relief. We will deny the motion to amend because the amendments would be futile as we have no jurisdiction over the proposed amended claims.

  i. Standard for Amending a Complaint

  Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its pleading after a responsive pleading is served only by leave of the court. FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a). District courts are obligated to grant leave freely "when justice so requires." Id. Although decisions on motions to amend are committed to the sound discretion of the district court, Gay v. Petsock, 917 F.2d 768, 772 (3d Cir. 1990), courts liberally allow amendments when "justice so requires," and when the non-moving party is not prejudiced by the allowance of the amendment. Thomas v. State Farm Ins. Co., CIV.A. No. 99-2268, 1999 WL 1018279, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 5, 1999).

  The Supreme Court discussed the liberal standard to amend a complaint under Rule 15(a), when it found in Forman v. Davis that "[i]n the absence of any apparent or declared reason — such as undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of the amendment . . ., the leave sought should, as the rules require, be freely given." Provenzano v. Integrated Genetics, et al., 22 F. Supp. 2d 406, 410-11 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). Absent undue prejudice, "denial must be grounded in bad faith or dilatory motives, truly undue or unexplained delay, repeated failure to cure deficiency by ...


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