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RABLE v. IUE-CWA LOCAL 455

August 16, 2005.

JOSEPH RABLE, Plaintiff,
v.
IUE-CWA LOCAL 455, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY CHESLER, Magistrate Judge

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.] OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant IUE-CWA Local 455's motion for summary judgment [docket # 14]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND:

  Plaintiff, Joseph Rable, ("Plaintiff") began working for Trane Company on June 1, 1999. (Def. Ex. A — Dep. Tr. of Joseph Rable, 11:14-17 ("Tr.")). IUE-CWA Local 455 ("Defendant" or "Local 455") represents Trane Company employees at Trane's Trenton, New Jersey plant. Mr. Rable became a dues paying member of Local 455 after becoming a Trane employee. (Tr. 39:21-40:4).

  One year after starting to work for Trane, Mr. Rable applied for, tested for and received his forklift license from the Company. (Tr. 16:11-17:21). Employees use a key card to enter the work building. (Tr. 20:3-4). A green card key indicates a person has a forklift license, while a red card key indicates that the person does not. (Tr. 20-21). Mr. Rable was allowed to operate a forklift/had a forklift license for approximately two years while employed at Trane. (Tr. 18:13-16). That two years spanned 2000 to until sometime in late 2001/early 2002.*fn1 Mr. Rable became aware that he was no longer allowed to operate a forklift at Trane when he arrived at work one day and his green card key did not work. (Tr. 19-22).

  Plaintiff complained to Trane management about the loss of his license. (Tr. 24:252-6:1, 27:11-17). A meeting was held involving Mr. Rable, Kenny Lee (the Chief Steward of Local 455), and a member of management. Mr. Rable wanted to know when he would get the green card key back. (Tr. 28:21). Management told Mr. Rable that his forklift authorization had been taken for medical reasons and told him he needed clearance from his doctor to operate a forklift. (Tr. 29:1-4, 32:7-10). Mr. Rable had been out of work on disability for two to three months prior to the loss of his license. (Tr. 29:19-22). He has sleep apnea. (Tr. 30:14).

  Plaintiff did not provide the employer with the information they requested. (Tr. 31:113-3:6). Mr. Rable raised the topic with Mr. Lee and the Local Union President, Felix Tucillo, about the loss of his license. (Tr. 25:18-27:10, 34:20-35:4, 36:13-16). Mr. Rable asked to have a grievance filed over the loss of his license, but Local 455 did not file one. (Tr. 34:12-19). Kenny Lee attended some meetings involving Mr. Rable and management on different issues, including the license issue, during Mr. Rable's employment. (Tr. 27:18-24, 60:22-61:17, 89:3-16).

  Trane discharged Mr. Rable on May 4, 2004, due to attendance problems. Trane has an attendance policy under which employees can accrue points for various infractions. (Def. Ex. N). Under Trane's work rules, four disciplinary warnings in a 12-month period makes an employee subject to discharge. (Def. Ex. O). Plaintiff was discharged after receipt of his fifth warning notice in 12 months. (Def. Ex. G).

  Plaintiff's complaint states the following reasons, in full, for suing the Defendant: "For breach of contract and I received no value for the money paid in dues. At times they worked against me resulting in me getting fired." (Pl. Complaint) (typos in original).

  PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

  Plaintiff filed his complaint on July 7, 2004, in the Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division, Special Civil Part, Mercer County. On August 13, 2004, Defendant removed the action to United States District Court, District of New Jersey. Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment on June 24, 2005, with a return date of July 18, 2005. Having received no opposition to this motion, the Court sent a letter to Plaintiff dated July 11, 2005, and docketed on July 13, 2005. The letter informed Mr. Rable that the return date for this motion would be adjourned to August 15, 2005, allowing him an extension to submit his opposition by August 1, 2005. The letter also informed Plaintiff that if he chose not to submit opposition, the motion would be deemed unopposed and disposed of accordingly. To date, the Court has not received any opposition from Plaintiff, nor any other communication from him with regard to this motion.

  DISCUSSION:
A. Summary Judgment Standard:
  Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Serbin v. Bora Corp., 96 F.3d 66, 69 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1996). In evaluating a summary judgment motion, a court must "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party." Armour v. County of Beaver, PA, 271 F.3d 417, 420 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)). A motion for summary judgment requires the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Albright v. Virtue, 273 F.3d 564, 570 n. 6 (3d Cir. 2001). The moving party carries the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). Defendants must identify the portions of the pleadings, and affidavit "which [they] believe? demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

  Once the moving party has made a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 242. The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir. 1991) (noting that a motion for summary judgment is not defeated by mere allegations, general denials, or other "vague statements"). Rather, only disputes regarding facts that might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the governing law will preclude the entry of summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. If the evidence is "such that a reasonable fact-finder could find return a verdict for the nonmoving party," summary judgment should not be granted. Id. at 248; Lawrence v. Nat'l Westminster Bank of New Jersey, 98 F.3d 61, 65 (3d Cir. 1996).

  However, where the facts are not in dispute and the issues contested in a summary judgment motion are legal issues, the Court may proceed to decide the legal issues and rule accordingly on the summary judgment motion. See Ingram v. County of Bucks, 144 F.3d 265, 267 (3d Cir. 1998) (when there is no genuine issue of material fact in dispute and the ...


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