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Mercado v. Central Mass. Transit Management, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 4, 2018



          David H. Hennessy, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Central Mass. Transit Management, Inc.'s (“Defendant” or the “Company”) motion to dismiss the complaint of Plaintiff Ariel Mercado. Dkt no. 6. This matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED.


         Plaintiff Ariel Mercado commenced the instant action in Worcester Superior Court on April 25, 2018 upon filing a complaint to compel arbitration. Dkt. no. 4, at pp. 4-8. Defendant was served with a summons and copy of the complaint on May 23, 2018. Id. at 182. On June 12, 2018, Defendant removed the action to this Court. Dkt. no. 1.

         On June 19, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. no. 6. Plaintiff opposed Defendant's motion. Dkt. no. 11. On July 13, 2018, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73(b), the Parties consented to have the undersigned conduct all further proceedings in this action. Dkt. nos. 10, 15.


         Defendant, a Massachusetts corporation, and Worcester Local 22 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (the “Union”) entered into a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), effective July 1, 2015 through July 1, 2018. Dkt. no. 4, at p. 4 (Complaint ¶ 5). The CBA governed the employment terms and conditions of all Defendant's non-supervisory employees, including its bus drivers. Id. at 11 (CBA pmbl.). Plaintiff, a resident of Worcester, Massachusetts, was employed by Defendant as a bus driver. Id. at 4 (Complaint ¶ 6). He was also a member of the Union, and the terms and conditions of his employment with Defendant were governed by the CBA. Id. at 3 (Complaint ¶ 1).

         On June 23, 2017, Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment. Id. at 4 (Complaint ¶ 6). Plaintiff challenged this termination by presenting his grievance to Defendant in compliance with Steps 1 and 2 of the CBA's grievance procedure. Id. (Complaint ¶ 7); see also id. at 19-20 (CBA § III.D). Defendant denied Plaintiff's grievance at both steps. Id. at 4 (Complaint ¶ 8). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Union to seek arbitration on his behalf. Id. (Complaint ¶ 9). The Union declined to arbitrate Plaintiff's grievance. Id.

         On October 20, 2017, Plaintiff, through an attorney, sent Defendant a letter demanding arbitration of his employment termination (“Arbitration Demand”). Id. (Complaint ¶ 10 and Exhibit B: Demand Letter). Defendant denied the Arbitration Demand in a letter response dated October 23, 2018, explaining that Plaintiff lacked standing to seek arbitration pursuant to the terms of the CBA and that the demand was untimely. See id. at 5 (Complaint ¶ 14 and Exhibit C: Demand Response). Plaintiff then filed the instant complaint seeking to compel arbitration. See generally id.


         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must “state a claim that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (internal citations omitted). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Indeed, “plausible” “means something more than merely possible, and gauging a pleaded situation's plausibility is a ‘context-specific' job that compels [the Court] ‘to draw on [its] judicial experience and common sense.'” Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         Despite this generous standard, “Rule 12(b)(6) is not entirely a toothless tiger . . . [t]he threshold for stating a claim may be low, but it is real.” Dartmouth Review v. Dartmouth Coll., 889 F.2d 13, 16 (1st Cir. 1989) (quotation omitted). The complaint must therefore “allege a factual predicate concrete enough to warrant further proceedings.” DM Research, Inc. v. Coll. of Am. Pathologists, 170 F.3d 53, 55 (1st Cir. 1999) (emphasis in original). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Dismissal is appropriate if a plaintiff's well-pleaded facts do not “possess enough heft to show that [the] plaintiff is entitled to relief.” Ruiz Rivera v. Pfizer Pharms., LLC, 521 F.3d 76, 84 (1st Cir. 2008) (quotations and original alterations omitted).

         The court “must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)). “Under Rule 12(b)(6), the district court may properly consider only facts and documents that are part of or incorporated into the complaint; if matters outside the pleadings are considered, the motion must be decided under the more stringent standards applicable to a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment.” Rivera v. Centro Medico de Turabo, Inc., 575 F.3d 10, 15 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting Trans-Spec Truck Serv., Inc. v. Caterpillar, Inc., 524 F.3d 315, 321 (1st Cir. 2008)). There lies an exception to this rule “for documents the authenticity of which [is] not disputed by the parties; for official public records; for documents central to [a plaintiff's] claim; or for documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint.” Rivera, 575 F.3d at 15 (quoting Alt. Energy, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 267 F.3d 30, 33 (1st Cir. 2001)). For example, where a complaint repeatedly references a collective bargaining agreement, the agreement may ...

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