United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY United States District Court
Paul Cox (hereinafter “plaintiff”) claims the
defendants unlawfully terminated his employment in
contravention of his union's Collective Bargaining
Agreement (hereinafter “CBA”) and Section 301 of
the Labor Management Relations Act (hereinafter
“LMRA”). Before the court for Disposition is
defendant United Parcel Service, Inc.'s (hereinafter
“UPS”), and Defendant Local Union 401,
International Brotherhood of Teamsters' (hereinafter
“Union”), joint motion to dismiss the
plaintiff's complaint with prejudice and award
attorneys' fees and costs, pursuant to Rules
and 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
and brief in support thereof (Doc. 58), filed on May 4, 2017.
parties have briefed their respective positions and the
motion is ripe for disposition.
instant employment action arises from plaintiff's
employment with Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc.,
(hereinafter “UPS”). Plaintiff worked as
full-time night mechanic from approximately May 4, 2014,
until June 18, 2015, when plaintiff resigned. (Doc. 1, Compl.
(hereinafter “Compl.”) ¶ 5). As a mechanic,
plaintiff maintained and inspected UPS's equipment,
including vehicles owned and rented by UPS. (Id.
¶ 6). Plaintiff alleges that during his employment, UPS
placed inspection stickers on vehicles that were not
roadworthy. (Id. ¶ 8). Plaintiff alleges he
objected and insisted on compliance with safety standards and
regulations. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10, 16, 28, 32).
18, 2015, shortly after plaintiff began his 6:00 p.m. shift,
plaintiff's immediate supervisor requested plaintiff come
to his office. (Id. ¶ 11). The supervisor asked
if plaintiff wanted union representation at the meeting and
plaintiff declined, signing a waiver of right to
representation. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 19). During
this meeting, plaintiff's supervisor directed plaintiff
to sign a resignation form or the supervisor would call the
Pennsylvania State Police. (Id. ¶ 12). The
supervisor also directed plaintiff to write
“personal” as the reasons for his resignation.
(Id.) Plaintiff signed the resignation form.
response to his forced resignation, plaintiff filed a
two-count complaint on October 16, 2015. (Doc. 1). Count I
asserts a breach of contract claim pertaining to the CBA
against UPS. Count II states a cause of action under the LMRA
against the Union.
answered plaintiff's complaint on February 15, 2016.
(Doc. 11). Union filed a motion to dismiss on March 7, 2016
(Doc. 18), which we denied on August 18, 2016. (Doc. 24).
Union filed an answer to the complaint on September 8, 2016.
(Doc. 27). After a telephonic case management conference
during which all parties agreed to the schedule, we issued a
case management order on October 3, 2016 directing, among
other things, the parties' discovery would be due to be
completed by February 1, 2017. (Doc. 33).
discovery delays ensued shortly thereafter. The defendants
jointly filed the instant motion on May 4, 2017 seeking
dismissal of the complaint along with attorneys' fees and
costs to defendants, (Doc. 58), thus bringing the case to its
plaintiff brings suit pursuant to Section 301 of the LMRA, we
have federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 (“The district courts shall have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”)
provides that a court may enter sanctions against a party who
fails to cooperate with discovery obligations. See
generally Fed.R.Civ.P. 37; Winters v. Textron,
Inc., 187 F.R.D. 518 (M.D. Pa. 1999). Where appropriate
the district court has great discretion in determining the
proper sanction under Rule 37. See, e.g.,
Nat'l Hockey League v. Metro. Hockey Club, Inc.,
427 U.S. 639 (1976).
the type of sanction however, “[d]ismissal must be a
sanction of last, not first, resort.” Poulis v.
State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868-69
(3d Cir. 1984). “Dismissals with prejudice or defaults
are drastic sanctions, termed ‘extreme' by the
Supreme Court, Nat'l Hockey League, 427 U.S. at
643, and “are to be reserved for comparable
cases.” Poulis, 747 F.2d at 868. Nevertheless,
“[t]he authority of a federal trial court to dismiss a
plaintiff's action with prejudice ...cannot seriously be
doubted.” Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S.
626, 629 (1962). “The power to invoke this sanction is
necessary in order to prevent undue delays in the disposition
of pending cases and to avoid congestion in the calendars of
the district courts.” Id. at 629-30.
Furthermore, “[t]he most severe in the spectrum of
sanctions provided by statute or rule must be available to
the district court...not merely to penalize...but to deter
those who might be tempted to such conduct in the absence of
such a deterrent.” Nat'l Hockey League,
427 U.S. at 643.
must balance the following factors in assessing whether
dismissal of a complaint is warranted: (1) the extent of the
personal responsibility of the party; (2) prejudice to the
adversary caused by failure to meet discovery orders; (3)
history of dilatoriness; (4) willfulness or bad faith of the
conduct in question; (5) effectiveness of alternative
sanctions other than dismissal; and (6) the meritoriousness
of the claim. Poulis, 747 F.2d at 868. Not all six
factors need to be met to warrant sanctions, but a
consideration and balance of all six factors must be
undertaken. Hoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson & Co.,
980 F.2d 912, 919 (3d Cir. 1992).
motions for extension of time to file pleadings or complete
discovery take place normally in the course of litigation.
Such motions are usually uncontested and routinely granted.
Because defendants seek to dismiss the plaintiff's case
as a sanction for failure to comply with discovery rules we
will briefly discuss the discovery history of this lawsuit.
October 12, 2016 our first case management order issued
setting a discovery deadline of February 1, 2017. (Doc. 33).
On December 12, 2016, plaintiff filed his answer to the
Union's interrogatories. (Doc. 34). On January 11, 2017,
Union moved for an extension of time to complete discovery.
(Doc. 35). We ordered the discovery deadline moved back to
April 3, 2017. (Doc. 36).
March 1, 2017, Union counsel filed a letter requesting a
discovery conference jointly with UPS. In it, defendants
requested our “intervention for the plaintiff's
failure to produce and complete discovery responses, as well
as for the plaintiff to be submitted for a deposition.”
(Doc. 37). During the ensuing telephonic discovery
conference we instructed counsel for all three parties to
collaborate in drafting an order and submit it to the court,
and they complied.
Doc. 38). On March 9, 2017, we issued the following order
submitted by the parties:
AND NOW, this 9th day of March, 2017, it is hereby
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED as follows:
1. Plaintiff is Ordered to provide the Defendant, United
Parcel Service, full and complete discovery responses to all
outstanding discovery within 7 days of the issuance of this
2. Plaintiff is Ordered to provide the Defendant,
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 401, full and
complete responses to all outstanding discovery within 7 days
of the issuance of this order.
3. Failure on the part of the plaintiff to comply with
paragraphs 1 or 2 above shall result in the Court issuing an
order dismissing this case in its entirety.
4. If Plaintiff does comply with both paragraphs 1 and 2
above, Plaintiff is ordered to appear and sit for a
deposition on March 23, 2017 in the law offices of Hourigan,
Kluger & Quinn, P.C. Should Plaintiff fail to sit for a
deposition on March 23, 2017, the ...