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District 1199c, Nat'l Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO v. Genesis Healthcare

December 4, 2008

DISTRICT 1199C, NAT'L UNION OF HOSPITAL AND HEALTH CARE EMPLOYEES, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GENESIS HEALTHCARE D/B/A COOPER RIVER WEST, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff petitioned this Court seeking confirmation and enforcement of an arbitral award issued by the American Arbitration Association. Presently before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and to Compel Arbitration, and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant has moved for attorneys' fees.

This Court holds that the arbitral award is too ambiguous to be judicially enforceable. Defendant's motion to compel arbitration on the issue of damages is therefore granted. In keeping with the complete arbitration rule, Defendant's motion to dismiss this action in its entirety is also granted. The action is dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment is therefore denied.*fn1 All applications for attorneys' fees are denied.

JURISDICTION

As this action was filed pursuant to the Taft-Hartley Act, § 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, this Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff District 1199C, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO ("Union") is a labor organization representing hospital and healthcare employees. Defendant Genesis Healthcare d/b/a Cooper River West ("Genesis") is a healthcare employer. Union and Genesis are parties to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). The CBA covers a bargaining unit of nurses employed by Genesis, including Melody Moton ("Moton").

On October 11, 2006, Moton was terminated for cause. The Union contested her termination and initiated the grievance procedure set forth in Article 21 of the CBA. When this did not produce the desired result, the Union initiated arbitration proceedings pursuant to Article 22 of the CBA. The arbitration was held before Arbitrator Timothy Brown, Esq. ("Arbitrator Brown") of the American Arbitration Association ("AAA").

On November 14, 2007, Arbitrator Brown issued a decision and order in favor of the Union. The order reads:

The subject grievance is granted. The termination of Grievant Melody Moten [sic] was in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Employer is required to promptly offer Grievant reinstated to a permanent position substantially equal to the one she last held, make Grievant whole for her losses including benefits and back pay and expunge any and all records of Grievant's termination from its disciplinary files. Said offer of reinstatement shall be in writing with a copy to the Union and shall include a starting date of no more than ten (10) calendar days from the date of the offer.

Back pay shall run from the period Grievant was taken off disability in or about March 2007 to the date of the Employer's bona fide offer of reinstatement and shall be reduced by any unemployment benefits or wages received by Grievant during such period.

The Arbitrator's jurisdiction over this matter is retained (1) for a period of sixty days after the date of the attached Award and (2) only for purposes of determining remedy related issues.

(Order, AAA Case No. 14 300 01876 06). Shortly after this order was issued, Genesis reinstated Moton and began corresponding with the Union regarding the calculation of back pay and benefits to be paid.

However, after an exchange of approximately a dozen letters between counsel for the Union and Genesis, the parties were unable to agree on the proper calculation of back pay and benefits to be paid in fulfillment of the "make whole" remedy. Additionally, Genesis contended that the make whole remedy should be reduced because Moton failed to mitigate damages by earnestly seeking work; Union countered that the issue of mitigation had already been addressed by the arbitrator. Genesis suggested twice that the matter be brought before an arbitrator. However, the Union ignored this suggestion, and filed suit in this Court to confirm and ...


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