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Limogiannis v. Consumers Distributing Co.

Decided: December 8, 1986.

EMMANUEL LIMOGIANNIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CONSUMERS DISTRIBUTING COMPANY, LTD., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Middlesex County.

King, Havey and Muir. The opinion of the court was delivered by Muir, J.A.D.

Muir

Plaintiff appeals from a Law Division summary judgment dismissing his complaint on grounds the matter in dispute is required to be submitted to arbitration.

The facts are not in dispute. Defendant discharged plaintiff from its employ on September 6, 1984. Defendant at that time had a collective bargaining agreement with Local 560 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters covering all its employees. The agreement provided for binding arbitration as a final step in all employee grievances. The Union filed for arbitration on the issue of plaintiff's discharge. Prior to the arbitration hearing, the parties settled. The settlement, in its pertinent aspects, provided:

(1) [Plaintiff] shall receive five hundred ($500) in full settlement of any and all claims against [Defendant] [;]

(2) [Defendant] will consider [plaintiff's] termination a resignation and [defendant] shall provide neutral recommendations to prospective employers[;]

(3) This agreement shall be deemed a general release between the parties.

On February 13, 1985, the Union filed a demand for arbitration on alleged failure of defendant to provide the neutral job references. The parties selected an arbitrator. Prior to hearing, the Union, at plaintiff's request, withdrew the arbitration demand.

Plaintiff then instituted this action relying on Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185 (West 1978). Alleging breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress, plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages. He demanded a jury trial.

The trial judge concluded, on defendant's motion for summary judgment, that the settlement agreement flowed from the arbitrable dispute under the collective bargaining agreement and, as such, the resolution of any dispute under the settlement agreement had to be resolved in the arbitration forum.

The sole issue on this appeal is whether a prospective breach of the settlement agreement must be resolved by arbitration. We conclude that it must be, and affirm.

State courts have concurrent jurisdiction to resolve suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor union or one of its employees under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. See Smith v. Evening News Assoc., 371 U.S. 195, 200, 83 S. Ct. 267, 270, 9 L. Ed. 2d 246, 251 (1962). State court jurisdiction, however, does ...


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