United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Alexander Wazeter, Esq. HELMER CONLEY & KASSELMAN
Attorney for Plaintiff.
B. Beckett, Esq. LAW OFFICE OF DAVID BECKETT.
B. SIMANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Tracy A. Smith (hereinafter, “Plaintiff”) brought
this suit against Defendant American Federation of State,
County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO District Council 71
(“AFSCME”) (hereinafter, “Defendant”)
alleging that Defendant's termination of her employment
in March 2011 violated the terms of the collective bargaining
agreement between Defendant and Plaintiff's union, the
Association of Union Staff and Office Personnel
(“AUSOP”). This matter comes before the Court
upon the Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's
Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P. [Docket Item 4.]
For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be
is a collective bargaining organization that represents the
interests of public employees in southern New Jersey. (Compl.
at ¶ 2.) In 1993, Defendant hired Plaintiff as a Staff
Representative. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 3.) While
employed by Defendant, Plaintiff was represented by AUSOP, a
collective bargaining organization that represents the
interests of the employees of Defendant. (Id. at
¶ 6.) On March 3, 2011, Plaintiff's employment was
terminated by the Defendant. (Id. at ¶ 11.)
Plaintiff alleges that her termination violated specific
provisions, discussed infra, of the
collective-bargaining agreement between AUSOP and AFSCME.
January 11, 2010, Defendant entered into a written collective
bargaining agreement with AUSOP entitled “The Agreement
Between American Federation of State, County, and Municipal
Employees, AFL-CIO District Council 71 and the Association of
Union Staff and Office Personnel” (hereinafter,
“the Agreement” or “the CBA”) that
provided a “number of rights” to the members of
the AUSOP, including Plaintiff, with respect to their terms
of employment. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8, 10.) There
are four specific provisions of the Agreement that relate to
Plaintiff's Complaint: a formal disciplinary procedure
requiring “just and sufficient” cause for
termination, an arbitration process for adjudicating
grievances resulting from termination, the “last-in,
first-out” policy of laying off employees based on
seniority, and the policy requiring severance pay to
terminated employees (Id. at ¶ 9; see also
Agreement Arts. VI-VIII, XV, [Ex. A to the Complaint], at
alleges that Defendant failed to adhere to the above
provisions of the Agreement in carrying out her termination.
(Compl. at ¶¶ 15-16.) Specifically, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant's actions amounted to a breach of
contract (Count I), legal fraud, in misrepresenting its
intent to be bound by the Agreement (Count II), promissory
estoppel (Count III), and bad faith (Count V), and also
advances a claim of equitable estoppel to preclude Defendant
from disclaiming the validity of the Agreement (Count IV).
(Id. at ¶¶ 17, 25, 29-31, 40, 45.)
initially brought the Complaint before the Superior Court of
New Jersey, Cumberland County, on December 21, 2016. (Notice
of Removal at 2 ¶ 1.) On February 15, 2017, Defendant
timely removed the case to federal court on the basis of
federal question jurisdiction. (Id. at 2 ¶ 5.)
On February 22, 2017, Defendant filed an unopposed motion to
dismiss the case pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P.
[Docket Items 4 & 9.]
argues that all claims alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint
arise from violations of the CBA between AFSCME and AUSOP,
and are thus governed by the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) (2012). (Def.
Br. at 1, 5.) Defendant asserts that the LMRA preempts any
state-law contract claims when those claims are dependent
upon an analysis of an agreement between parties to a labor
contract, including attendant quasi-contract claims of legal
fraud as well as promissory and equitable estoppel.
(Id. at 8-9.) Thus, according to the Defendant,
Plaintiff's claims are all preempted by the LMRA and
time-barred by the statute's six-month statute of
limitations, mandating the dismissal of the Complaint.
(Id. at 5.) Plaintiff does not oppose
Defendant's motion. [Docket Item 9.]
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to Rule 8(a)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., a complaint need only
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Specific facts are not required, and “the statement
need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the .
. . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(citations omitted). While a complaint is not required to
contain detailed factual allegations, the plaintiff must
provide the “grounds” of her ...