United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
January 6, 2015
DEAN JAY LARGESSE, SR., on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff
H& M INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORTATION, INC., CHARLES CONNORS and GEORGE WILLMOTT, Defendants
For Dean Jay Largesse, Sr., for himself and for others similarly situated, Plaintiff: Richard J. Rafferty, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Eden & Rafferty, Worcester, MA. David J. Officer, David J. Officer, P.C., Southborough, MA.
For H& M International Transportation, Inc., Charles Connors, George Willmott, Defendants: John D Doran, Jr, Robert B. O'Brien, Littler Mendelson, PC, Boston, MA.
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff, Dean Jay Largesse, Sr. (" Largesse" ), filed suit in Massachusetts State Superior Court against H& M International Transportation, Inc. (" H& M" ), Charles Connors (" Connors" ) and George Willmott (" Willmott" ) alleging claims pursuant to Mass.Gen.L. ch. 149, § § 148 and 150 (failure to pay wages). Specifically, Largesse alleges that the Defendants failed to pay him his earned vacation pay pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (" CBA" ) between H& M and Teamsters Local Union 170. Connors and Willmott are being sued in their individual capacities.
Defendants removed the action to this Court on the grounds that Largesse's claims are preempted by federal law, specifically, Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (" LMRA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Defendants then filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Largesse's claims are preempted by the LMRA because such claims can only be resolved by reference to the CBA and because they failed to exhaust administrative remedies through the CBA's grievance and arbitration procedures. For the reasons set forth in Defendants'
memorandum in support of their motion, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is allowed.
After Defendants filed their motion to dismiss, Largess filed Plaintiff's Motion For Leave To Amend Complaint (Docket No. 16). For the reasons set forth below, that motion is allowed.
Standard Of Review
Under this Court's rules of procedure, more specifically, Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), consent to file an amended pleading is to be " freely given when justice so requires." Id. " This liberal amendment policy applies unless the plaintiff exhibited bad faith, undue delay, the amendment would work undue prejudice on the opposing party, or be futile." Weinberg v. Grand Circle Travel, LLC, 891 F.Supp.2d 228, 236 (D.Mass. 2012). Largess has not unduly delayed his motion to amend (it was filed approximately 2 1/2 months after Defendants filed their motion to dismiss) and there are no allegations of bad faith or undue prejudice. Thus, the only issue to be addressed by the Court is whether allowance of the motion to amend the complaint would be futile.
Whether The Motion To Amend Should Be Allowed
Largess seeks to file an Amended Complaint on behalf of himself and others similarly situated and Teamsters Local Union 170 (who is being added as a Plaintiff in this case) asserting claims for violation of the LMRA and breach of the CBA. Defendants argue that allowing the amendment would be futile because Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies under the CBA, which is a prerequisite to this Court exercising jurisdiction over their claims. However, in the proposed Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that H& M repudiated the grievance process, which is an exception to the exhaustion requirement. See Hayes v. New England Millwork Distributors, Inc., 602 F.2d 15 (1st Cir. 1979). This allegation suffices to allow this Court to exercise jurisdiction pursuant to the LMRA. At the same time, H& M has made a compelling case that Plaintiffs cannot establish that it repudiated the grievance process and therefore, their claims must ultimately be dismissed. In support of their respective positions on this issue, the parties have cited to and relied on facts which are not properly before the Court in deciding the instant motion. Therefore, I find that the
issue is one which is more properly addressed by way of summary judgment after limited discovery. Accordingly, Largess's motion to amend is allowed.
The Parties Shall File Motion(s) For Summary Judgment On The Exhaustion Issue
On or before January 20, 2015, the Plaintiffs and H& M shall jointly submit a Scheduling Order to the Court setting forth the limited discovery they would seek to conduct relevant to the issue of whether Plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed for failure to exhaust and their proposed timetable for: conducting such discovery, filing of motion(s) for summary judgment and/or oppositions to such motion(s). Thereafter, the Court will hold a Scheduling Conference to address their joint proposal.
It is hereby ordered that:
(1) Defendants' Motion To Dismiss (Docket No. 4) is allowed; and
(2) Plaintiff's Motion For Leave To Amend Complaint (Docket No. 16) is allowed, as provided herein. Plaintiffs shall file the Amended Complaint forthwith.