United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Curry sued United Parcel Service, Inc. and Teamsters Local
623 in state court asserting a single claim for wrongful
discharge. Defendants removed the case to federal court on
the basis of preemption and Curry filed a motion to remand.
Because Curry's wrongful discharge claim is substantially
dependent on analysis of the terms of a collective bargaining
agreement, it is completely preempted by Section 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”). Removal
was therefore proper and the motion to remand is denied.
Curry began working for UPS and joined Local 623 in 1996.
(Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1-2.) UPS and Local 623 are parties
to a collective bargaining agreement. (Id.
¶¶ 60-61.) Curry explains that “[a]t all
times relevant, [he] was employed by Defendants under the
Collective Bargaining Agreement.” (Id. ¶
61.) He “was not an at-will employee.”
(Id.) Curry worked part time for UPS until 2002,
when he became a package driver. (Id. ¶ 4.) He
worked as a CDL Class A truck driver for UPS from July of
2014 until his termination. (Id. ¶ 26.)
2013, UPS's contract with the Teamsters was about to
expire and a change in health care plans was under
negotiation. (Id. ¶ 6.) Curry took an active
role in opposing the new plan. He joined a reform union
within the Teamsters called “Teamsters for a Democratic
Union, ” traveled to conventions and met with other
like-minded members and gained notoriety for his reform
efforts. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) Curry also led a
slate of seven individuals to run for leadership of the
Teamsters Local 623. Curry and his slate, however, lost by
thirty votes. (Id. ¶ 22.) Curry contends that
he experienced verbal harassment from friends and the Local
623 leadership from the time of the election until he was
terminated two years later. (Id. ¶ 24.)
April 17, 2015, Curry stopped at a rest stop on Interstate 95
to use the restroom during his shift. (Id. ¶
28.) Before leaving, Curry saw two co-workers, Sam Mendez and
Sal Falice. (Id.) After chatting for a few minutes,
the drivers returned to their trucks. (Id. ¶
30.) As Curry started his truck, Mendez ran over to him and
asked for a quarter. (Id.) Curry gave him the
quarter and drove off. (Id.) He later learned that
Mendez had used the quarter to tamper with the air lines on
Falice's truck as a prank. (Id. ¶ 42.)
April 22, 2015, Curry was accused of “stealing
time” by not clocking out when he stopped to use the
restroom on April 17. (Id. ¶ 32.) He was also
questioned about the quarter. (Id. ¶ 35.) Curry
explained that he could not remember much of the details.
(Id.) He was terminated at the conclusion of the
questioning. (Id. ¶ 36.)
filed two grievances: one for unjust termination and the
other for constant harassment. (Id. ¶ 39.) A
hearing was held on the unfair termination grievance on May
1, 2015. (Id. ¶ 40.) The Hearing Panel
reiterated that Curry had failed to clock out for his break
and accused Curry of tampering with equipment by giving
Mendez the quarter he used to block the air lines in
Falice's truck. (Id. ¶¶ 40-42.) Curry
explained that there was not a system in place for clocking
out and that he had never been trained to do so.
(Id. ¶ 41.) He also denied any knowledge of or
involvement with Mendez's prank. (Id. ¶
42.) The Panel upheld Curry's termination. At a hearing
on May 19, 2015, a committee affirmed the Panel's
decision. (Id. ¶ 52.)
removed this case to federal court on May 23, 2017. (ECF No.
1.) Curry filed a Motion to Remand on June 22, 2017. (ECF No.
10.) Defendants' filed their responses on July 6, 2017,
(ECF Nos. 17 & 18), and Curry filed a reply on July 11,
2017, (ECF No. 19). The Court held oral argument on the
motion on August 16, 2017. (ECF No. 32.)
defendant may remove to federal court “any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a). District courts have original jurisdiction
where the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and where
there is diversity of citizenship between the parties,
see 28 U.S.C. § 1332, or where the suit
“aris[es] under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States, ” id. § 1331. A suit
“arises under” federal law “only when the
plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows
that it is based upon [federal law].'” Vaden v.
Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 60 (2009) (quoting
Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Mottley, 211
U.S. 149, 152 (1908) (quotation omitted)). This well-pleaded
complaint rule “makes the plaintiff the master of the
claim; he or she may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive
reliance on state law.” Caterpillar Inc. v.
Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987)).
well-pleaded complaint rule, however, is not absolute. In
limited circumstances a defendant may remove a complaint
notwithstanding its reliance on state law. Trans Penn Wax
Corp. v. McCandles, 50 F.3d 217, 228 (3d Cir. 1995).
“One such circumstance is when a state-law claim is
preempted under section 301 of the LMRA.” Id.
(citing Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393); see ...