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[EDITOR'S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.]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