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Nowak v. Major League Soccer, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 5, 2015

PIOTR NOWAK
v.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER, LLC, et al

Page 383

For PIOTR NOWAK, Plaintiff: CLIFFORD E. HAINES, LEAD ATTORNEY, HAINES & ASSOCIATES, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER PLAYERS UNION, Defendant: JONATHAN D. NEWMAN, SHERMAN DUNN COHEN LEIFER & YELLIG PC, WASHINGTON, DC; WILLIAM T. JOSEM, CLEARY, JOSEM & TRIGIANI LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 384

MEMORANDUM

Mary A. McLaughlin, J.

This tortious interference with contractual relations case arose when the plaintiff, Piotr Nowak, was terminated from his position as the team manager of the Philadelphia Union (" PU" ), a professional soccer team. Nowak has sued Major League Soccer, LLC (" MLS" ) and the Major League Soccer Players Union (" MLSPU" ) for tortious interference with contractual relations. Nowak alleges that MLS and MLSPU demanded that PU terminate Nowak's employment contract.

MLSPU has moved to dismiss the claim asserted against it pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The Court grants MLSPU's motion and dismisses the claim asserted against MLSPU because it is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (" NLRA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 151, et seq.[1]

I. Allegations in the Complaint

The plaintiff is a professional soccer coach. PU is a professional soccer team that is part of MLS. In June 2009, PU hired Nowak as the Team Manager. In December 2011, PU named Nowak as its " Manager and Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations" and extended Nowak's contract through December 31, 2015. On June 13, 2012, Nowak was notified orally that his employment would be terminated. Complaint ¶ ¶ 9-10, 15-16.

In a letter dated June 13, 2012, PU notified Nowak that his employment would be terminated for several reasons, including: physical confrontations with players and officials; interfering with the rights of players to contact the players' union; subjecting

Page 385

players to inappropriate hazing activities; and engaging in behavior that put the health and safety of players at risk. Nowak's complaint alleges that the reasons articulated in this letter were curable and pretextual. Complaint ¶ ¶ 17-18, Ex. D.

Nowak's termination was precipitated by an investigation demanded by MLSPU over a disputed training exercise. The investigation was carried out by MLS, which issued a report. Following this investigation, both MLSPU and MLS demanded that PU fire Nowak. Nowak alleges that the termination of his employment ...


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