United States District Court, D. New Jersey
McNulty United States District Judge.
Douglas Beatty, Jr., is a letter carrier for the United
States Postal Service ("USPS"). He was involved
in a physical altercation with his supervisor. USPS attempted
to have him removed, but an arbitrator ruled in his favor. As
a condition of his return, however, Mr. Beatty was obligated
to attend counseling sessions. Near his return date, USPS and
Mr. Beatty disputed whether he had completed the counseling,
and he was temporarily barred from returning for a period of
a few days. That dispute was summarily resolved by an
arbitrator, who awarded Mr. Beatty back pay for the days he
was not allowed to return. Mr. Beatty, pro se, filed
suit in small claims court in New Jersey, seeking to
challenge in part, enforce, or supplement the arbitration
award(s). The defendants, USPS (referred to by Mr. Beatty in
his complaint as "Wayne Post Office") and Gus
Passaro, a postmaster, removed that action to this Court. For
the reasons below, I will grant the unopposed motion of USPS
and Passaro for summary judgment.
Beatty has worked for USPS as a letter carrier for
approximately 19 years. (SoF ¶ 6.) On September 17,
2016, while working at the Post Office in Wayne, New Jersey,
Mr. Beatty got into a physical altercation with his
supervisor, Eric Martinez. (Id. ¶ 7.) Martinez
suffered injuries that required medical treatment in an
emergency room. (Id. ¶ 11.)
and the National Association of Letter Carriers ("NALC),
Mr. Beatty's union, have a collective bargaining
agreement, which outlines a grievance arbitration process to
resolve all disputes regarding the terms and conditions of
employment for carriers like Mr. Beatty. (Id.
¶¶ 1-5.) The matter went to arbitration. The
arbitrator found that Mr. Beatty pushed Mr. Martinez twice,
but that he did so in self-defense and as a result of
provocation by Martinez. (Id. ¶ 8.)
Beatty was placed in "emergency placement off-duty
(unpaid) status" beginning September 17, 2016.
(Id. ¶ 9.) On October 20, 2016, USPS issued Mr.
Beatty a notice of removal charging him with unacceptable
conduct and with violating the "Zero-Tolerance
Policy" against workplace violence. (Id. ¶
10.) NALC challenged the removal, and a hearing occurred on
March 30, 2017. (Id. ¶ 12.) On June 3, 2017,
the arbitrator found that Mr. Beatty had violated several
sections of the Postal Service's Employee and Labor
Relations Manual, as well as other policies. Nevertheless,
the arbitrator reduced the removal to time served with no
back pay "in light of the mitigating circumstances of
obvious provocation present in this case," and taking
into account that Mr. Beatty was a long-term employee with no
prior disciplinary actions. (Id. ¶ 14.)
However, the arbitrator conditioned reinstatement on the
completion of counseling sessions by Mr. Beatty.
(Id. ¶ 15.)
Mr. Beatty was set to return to work, a disagreement arose
over whether he had complied with that condition-specifically
over whether he provided sufficient documentation of
completion of the sessions from a social worker.
(Id. ¶ 16.) Mr. Beatty claimed he was ready to
return to work as of June 26, 2017, but USPS disagreed and
would not allow him to return until July 7, 2017.
(Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) An arbitrator resolved the
issue via teleconference on July 6, 2017 and ruled that Mr.
Beatty would receive back pay for the period of June 26, 2017
to July 6, 2017. (Id. ¶ 20.) The issue of
vacation days (raised later, in this action) was not
addressed either in the award or at the teleconference.
[Id. ¶ 21.)
October 17, 2017, Mr. Beatty filed an action in the Superior
Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Small
Claims Section, demanding $2, 589.29 and the restoration of
three vacation days, which he claims "were taken from
[him]." (Cplt.) He also states that Mr. Passaro and USPS
failed to pay him what he was owed pursuant to the
arbitration award. (See id.)Meanwhile, on October 24,
2017, USPS issued a check to Mr. Beatty in the amount of $ 1,
163.11, the net amount of back pay he was owed after taxes
and other withholdings. (Id. ¶¶ 24, 28;
see also ECF no. 3, ex. 6, ¶ 3
("Declaration of Yasmin Green").)
Beatty has not filed any additional grievances with the
arbitrator regarding the back pay. (Id. ¶ 29.)
Defendants removed the small-claims action to federal court.
(ECF no. 1.) They filed a motion to dismiss or in the
alternative for summary judgment. On May 8, 2018, I gave Mr.
Beatty twenty-one days to show cause for his failure to
respond and that wanted him that unless he did, the
defendants' motion could be treated as unopposed and
granted. (ECF no. 4.) Mr. Beatty has not replied. Service of
the order by mail has been returned as undeliverable, and
there has been no update of Mr. Beatty's address. I will
consider the motion as unopposed.
Standard of Review
move to dismiss the complaint, or in the alternative for
summary judgment. Because the defendants' motion relies
on documents, such as die collective bargaining agreement,
that are not attached to the pleadings, I have out of caution
elected to treat it as a motion for summary judgment.
"shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material act and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (explaining that summary judgment is
appropriate where "there is no genuine issue of material
fact to be resolved and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law}; Alcoa, Inc. v. United
States, 509 F.3d 173, 175 (3d Cir. 2007). Summary
judgment is desirable because it eliminates unfounded claims
without resort to a costly and lengthy trial,
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327, but a court should grant
summary judgment only "if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with die affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving parry is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
if a party fails to address the other party's properly
supported assertion of fact, the court may consider
"granting] summary judgment if the motion and supporting
materials-including the facts considered undisputed- show
that the movant is entitled to it... ." Fed R. Civ. P.
56(e). Local Civil Rule 56.1(a) deems a movant's
statement of material facts undisputed where a party does not
respond or file a counterstatement. L. Civ. R. 56(a). A
failure to dispute a party's statement of material facts,
however, "is not alone a sufficient basis for the entry
of a summary judgment." See Anchorage Assocs. v.
Virgin Islands Bd. of Tax Review,922 F.2d 168, 175 (3d
Cir. 1990) (holding that even where a local rule deeming
unopposed motions to be conceded, the court was still
required to analyze the movant's summary judgment motion
under die standard prescribed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)); see
also Muskett v. Certegy Check Sews., Inc., No. 08-3875,
2010 WL 2710555 (D.N.J. July 6, 2010) ("In order to
grant Defendant's unopposed motion for summary judgment,
where, as here, 'the moving party does not have the