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Evans v. Einhorn

decided*fn*: July 11, 1988.

VINCE EVANS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
EDWARD M. EINHORN, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 86 C 10225 -- Ilana Diamond Rovner, Judge.

Wood, Jr., Posner, Circuit Judges, and Eschbach, Senior Circuit Judge.

Author: Per Curiam

Vince Evans appeals the dismissal by the district court of his claim against Edward Einhorn under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 48, para. 39m-1-15 (1986). The state law action against Einhorn was a pendent claim to a suit brought by Evans in federal court against his former employer, the Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership (CFFLP) and Edjer Corporation, the corporate general partner of CFFLP, under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). Einhorn is an officer and agent of the Edjer Corporation. The sole issue on appeal is whether the district court erred when it determined that Evans' state law claim against Einhorn was preempted by section 301(a) of the LMRA.

The district court correctly stated that if appellant's state law claim is, in fact, a suit to enforce a labor arbitration award, it is preempted by section 301(a) of the LMRA. On appellee's motion to dismiss, the district court identified the key question as "whether Evans' use of a state statute to collect a labor arbitration award from an officer of his employer is a straightforward § 301 breach of collective bargaining [agreement] claim." After a thorough analysis, the district court held that "Evans' state law claim is nothing more than an attempt to enforce a federal labor arbitration award rendered pursuant to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement." We believe the district court properly characterized appellant's state law claim, and correctly determined that it is preempted by section 301(a) of the LMRA.*fn1 Accordingly, we affirm on the basis of the district court's opinion, a copy of which is attached to this opinion as an appendix.

APPENDIX

In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. Vince Evans, Plaintiff, v. The Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership; Edjer Corporation, an Illinois corporation; Edward M. Einhorn and others unnamed as officers and agents of Edjer Corp.; The United States Football League, a voluntary association; and The Chicago USFL Limited Partnership, an Illinois partnership, Defendants.

No. 86 C 10225

HONORABLE ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff, Vince Evans, has brought suit against The Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership, Edjer Corporation, Edward M. Einhorn as an officer and agent of Edjer Corporation, The United States Football League, and The Chicago USFL Limited Partnership to enforce an arbitration award. The only remaining defendant is Edward M. Einhorn.*fn1a

Presently pending before the Court is a motion brought by the remaining defendant pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint with respect to himself for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. As with all such motions, the Court accepts as true all well-pled facts and views all allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Wilson v. Harris Trust & Savings Bank, 777 F.2d 1246, 1247 (7th Cir. 1985).

II. FACTS

On November 14, 1983, the plaintiff, Vince Evans, a professional football player who resides in Denver, Colorado, entered into a four year contract to play professional football for the United States Football League's ("USFL") franchise in Chicago. The United States Football League Players Association ("Players Association") is the certified collective bargaining representative of the professional football players employed by USFL employers.

The USFL and the Players Association are and at all relevant times have been parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The agreement provides in part for the resolution of disputes between the parties through final and binding arbitration.*fn2

At the time Vince Evans entered into the contract, the Chicago USFL Limited Partnership, an Illinois limited partnership, owned the rights to the USFL franchise in Chicago. The Chicago USFL Limited Partnership and the players it employed were covered by and subject to the terms of the USFL/Players Association collective bargaining agreement. On March 30, 1984, the Chicago USFL Limited Partnership transferred its interest in the Chicago USFL franchise to The Chicago Professional Football Holding Company, Inc. The transferee was a New York corporation of which the USFL, as agent for its member teams, was the sole shareholder. Included in the transfer were the Chicago USFL Limited Partnership's rights and obligations under the Evans contract.

On May 10, 1984, the USFL transferred its interest in The Chicago Professional Football Holding Company, Inc. to Edjer Corporation, an Illinois corporation. Included in the transfer were The Chicago Professional Football Holding Company's rights and obligations under the Evans contract. Edjer Corporation is the general partner of the Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership, an Illinois partnership which is franchised by the USFL to field a football team in Chicago. Edward M. Einhorn is an officer of Edjer Corporation.

The Evans contract provided for deferred compensation ranging in installments of $50,000 to $88,000, beginning January 3, 1992, and continuing annually until January 3, 2027. The contract also provided for a financial guaranty, described by the parties as a surety, which was to be purchased from Lloyds of London to guarantee the deferred compensation provision in the Evans contract.*fn3 The Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership, the Chicago Professional Football Holding Company, and the Chicago USFL Limited Partnership all failed to purchase a surety as required by the contract.

On May 10, 1985, the Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of Evans pursuant to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The parties exhausted the provisions of the contractual grievance procedure, and on October 8, 1985, the Players Association and Evans appealed his grievance to arbitration.

On September 18, 1986, arbitrator John E. Dunsford conducted a hearing into the Evans grievance. The Players Association appeared on behalf of Evans and The Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership was represented by counsel. On October 1, 1986, arbitrator Dunsford granted Evans' grievance and awarded him $1,302,000.00 plus an additional amount sufficient to cover Evans' tax liability on the award to leave him an after tax net of $1,302,000.00.*fn4 The arbitrator's award was made in favor of Vince Evans and against the Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership.

III. COUNT ONE

In Count One Evans seeks to enforce the arbitration award under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a).*fn5 In support of his motion to dismiss, Einhorn argues that he is not named as a defendant in Count One of the complaint. After arguing that the complaint is ambiguous, Einhorn cites to several admissions in the plaintiff's memorandum in opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss that indicate that the plaintiff did not intend to name Einhorn as a defendant in Count One of the complaint. Excerpts from the plaintiff's memorandum follow:

In Count I of his complaint, Evans sues CFFLP [Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership] and the other institutional defendants to enforce an arbitration award pursuant to § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). In Count II Evans adds Einhorn in a claim for payment of wages under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, Ill. Rev. Stat. Ch. 48 para. 39m-1 et seq.

(Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss at 1-2; emphasis added).

Although Einhorn if not at present named in Count I of Evan's complaint. . .

(Id. at 5).

Count I of Evans's complaint only seeks enforcement of the arbitration award ...


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