Unpublished Disposition, 844 F.2d 793 (9th Cir. 1986)

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US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 844 F.2d 793 (9th Cir. 1986)

Teri L. WALKER, Plaintiff-Appellant,v.ALPHA BETA COMPANY, and Joe Banando, Defendants-Appellees

No. 86-6689.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Argued and Submitted Feb. 1, 1988.Decided March 31, 1988.

Before HUG, TANG and NELSON, Circuit Judges.



Teri Walker was employed as a cashier/clerk by Alpha Beta Company from November 17, 1980 to May 30, 1984. She alleges that her supervisor, Joe Banando, subjected her to sexual harassment while she was employed by Alpha Beta Co. On May 30, 1984, Walker was fired. On June 5, 1984 she filed a sex discrimination charge against Alpha Beta Company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH"). DFEH sent a notice informing Walker that it had deferred to the pending EEOC investigation and closed the case. The notice also informed Walker that she had one year from June 22nd, the date of the notice, to sue. The EEOC issued a Right to Sue notice on March 29, 1985, stating that appellant had 90 days to bring a suit against Alpha Beta. Instead, appellant filed this action on May 16, 1986 in California state superior court.

The complaint alleged: (1) breach of express and implied contract, (2) breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (3) breach of public policy, (4) fraud, and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. A collective bargaining agreement existed between Alpha Beta and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union during appellant's employment. Appellees removed the case to federal district court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. The district court determined that this agreement governed the terms and conditions of Walker's employment. Appellees then filed a summary judgment motion claiming that appellant's claims were preempted by Sec. 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Appellees also claimed that the six month statute of limitations applicable to Sec. 301 claims barred Walker's suit, if the claims are properly construed as arising under Sec. 301. The district court granted summary judgment.


Section 301 Preemption of State Law Claims.

This court reviews a grant of summary judgment de novo. Young v. Anthony's Fish Grottos, 830 F.2d 993, 996 (9th Cir. 1987). Summary judgment should be affirmed in this case only if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Walker, no genuine questions of fact remain and the trial court correctly applied the substantive law. Ashton v. Cory, 780 F.2d 816, 818 (9th Cir. 1986). Walker has not identified any specific state statute that confers any rights independent from the collective bargaining agreement.

"The presence or absence of federal question jurisdiction is governed by the 'well-pleaded complaint rule,' which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint." Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 107 S. Ct. 2425, 2429 (1987). On the face of the complaint, appellant alleges only state law claims. However, a plaintiff "may not avoid federal jurisdiction by omitting from the complaint allegations of federal law that are essential to the establishment of his claim." Paige v. Henry J. Kaiser Co., 826 F.2d 857, 860 (9th Cir. 1987). Alpha Beta contends that appellant's state law claims involve issues within the scope of Sec. 301 of the LMRA, which governs actions for violations of collective bargaining agreements, and therefore, federal law both preempts these state law causes of action and allows the court to consider the claims as if they were properly pleaded as Sec. 301 claims.

Recently the Supreme Court concluded that " [c]laims bearing no relationship to a collective-bargaining agreement beyond the fact that they are asserted by an individual covered by such an agreement are simply not pre-empted by Sec. 301." Caterpillar, 107 S. Ct. at 2432, n. 10. However, Walker's counsel conceded at oral argument that no independent employment agreement existed between Walker and Alpha Beta Co., distinguishing this case from the situation present in Caterpillar. Walker's complaint is preempted by Sec. 301 because the complaint states a cause of action for violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

Section 301 entirely preempts any state claim for violation of a collective bargaining agreement or any cause of action rooted in the collective bargaining agreement. Moreover, any claim the resolution of which "is substantially dependent upon analysis of the terms of an agreement ... must either be treated as a Sec. 301 claim, or dismissed as preempted by federal labor-contract law." Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 220 (1985) (citations omitted). Walker's employment rights are derived from the agreement and any attempt to assess liability for breach of that agreement will necessarily involve interpretation of the labor contract. See id. at 218. Since the state claims for breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing are inextricably intertwined with rights created by the collective bargaining agreement, the state law claims are supplanted by the federal cause of action available to Walker under Sec. 301. Because these state claims must be recharacterized as Sec. 301 claims, federal jurisdiction exists. Paige, 826 F.2d at 861.

Statute of Limitations Under Section 301.

Selection of an appropriate statute of limitations is an issue of law reviewable de novo. Edwards v. Teamsters Local Union No. 36, 719 F.2d 1036, 1039 (9th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 465 U.S. 1102 (1984). Walker's causes of action against appellees accrued in May, 1984. In 1983 the Supreme Court decided that a six month statute of limitations applies to Sec. 301 claims against both unions and employers. DelCostello v. Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151 (1983). Because appellant filed the present action almost two years after her termination, the claims, properly recharacterized as Sec. 301 claims, are time barred. Since no factual question as to the applicable statute of limitations remains, the district court appropriately granted summary judgment.

Dismissal of Pendent State Claims.

Wlaker's claims for fraud, breach of public policy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, are properly considered pendent state claims. A district court's dismissal of a plaintiff's pendent state claims after disposition of the federal claims is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Wren v. Sletten Constr. Co., 654 F.2d 529, 536 (9th Cir. 1981). The decision to dismiss the state law claims is vested entirely in the district court's discretion because "pendent jurisdiction is a doctrine of discretion, not of plaintiff's right." United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966); Wren, 654 F.2d at 536. The Court in Gibbs articulated the factors which should exist before a court exercises pendent jurisdiction. The district judge considers "judicial economy, convenience and fairness to litigants; if these are not present a federal court should hesitate to exercise jurisdiction over state claims.... Certainly, if the federal claims are dismissed before trial, even though not insubstantial in a jurisdictional sense, the state claims should be dismissed as well." Gibbs, 383 U.S. at 726.

The time expended in the federal forum is a major factor in deciding whether to retain jurisdiction of a pendent claim. 3A MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE, p 18-07 at 53 (1987). Here the district court dismissed the pendent claims on a summary judgment motion before any discovery or trial had commenced. Minimal judicial resources had been used on the state law claims. When the federal claims are dismissed prior to trial, the state claims should be dismissed as well. Litchfield v. Spielberg, 736 F.2d 1352, 1358 (9th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 105 S. Ct. 1753 (1985); Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 651 (9th Cir. 1984). In this case the trial court exercised its discretion before beginning trial and dismissed the state claims at the same time that the federal claims were dismissed. We cannot say that the district court abused its discretion when it dismissed the pendent state claims rather than retain jurisdiction. The decision of the trial court is therefore upheld.



This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3