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Marzuki v. AT&T Technologies Inc.

decided: June 20, 1989.

EDNA MARZUKI, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
AT&T TECHNOLOGIES, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 86 C 2419, James B. Moran, Judge.

Wood, Jr., Ripple, and Manion, Circuit Judges.

Author: Ripple

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge

The plaintiff-appellant, Edna Marzuki, was employed by the defendant-appellee, AT & T Technologies, Inc. (AT & T or company), in a position that was covered by a collective bargaining agreement. When she was discharged, she filed a grievance pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement. While this grievance was pending, Ms. Marzuki filed a claim in state court. The district court granted AT & T's motion to remove the claim to federal court and then dismissed the claim on the authority of Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef, Inc., 823 F.2d 1031 (7th Cir. 1987) (en banc). The Supreme Court subsequently reversed the Seventh Circuit decision in Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 108 S. Ct. 1877, 100 L. Ed. 2d 410 (1988). We vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.

I.

Facts

From April 30, 1979 until September 19, 1985, Edna Marzuki was employed by AT& T and its predecessor, Western Electric, Inc. Ms. Marzuki held a position as a bench hand in the company's Montgomery, Illinois plant. AT & T is an Illinois employer subject to the provisions of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. According to the complaint, as a bench hand, Ms. Marzuki was required "to sit in a position which caused constant flexion of her cervical spine." R.1 at A (Appellant's Complaint at 2, para. 6) [hereinafter Complaint]. As a result of this condition of employment, Ms. Marzuki suffered severe and disabling injuries to her spine which required her to undergo continuous treatment -- including periodic hospitalization -- and, on April 9, 1984, surgery. Complaint at 2, paras. 7-8. Ms. Marzuki alleges that, upon her return to work, AT & T made her resume work activities that aggravated the condition of her spine. As a result of her injuries, Ms. Marzuki became disabled. The appellant alleges that, on September 19, 1985, she was wrongfully discharged from her employment.

At the time of her discharge, and throughout her employment with AT & T, Ms. Marzuki was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO (the Union). The terms and conditions of her employment were governed by a collective bargaining agreement between the company and the Union, known as the General Agreement.*fn1 On September 19, 1985, the Union was notified that Ms. Marzuld had been terminated "for an unacceptable attendance record." R.1 at B.2. On September 25, the Union filed a grievance alleging that the appellant's discharge was unfair and in violation of the [Employee] Attendance Plan and Article 30, paragraph 4 of the General Agreement. Id. The grievance was considered and discussed between the company and the Union pursuant to Article 8 of the General Agreement and was pending at the time the appellant filed her claim in state court.*fn2 R.1 at B, p. 2, para. 5.

On March 5, 1986, Ms. Marzuki filed a two-count complaint in the Circuit Court for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Kane County, Illinois. In Count I, Ms. Marzuiu prayed for damages in the amount of $15,000 plus reasonable attorney's fees. In Count II, she alleged that AT & T's conduct was "reprehensible" and violated Illinois public policy, and prayed for punitive damages in the amount of $1,000,000.

On April 9, 1986, AT & T filed a petition seeking to remove the case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In its petition, AT & T alleged that the district court had original jurisdiction over the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because Ms. Marzuki's allegation of wrongful discharge alleged, in reality, a breach of the collective bargaining agreement and thus was preempted by section 301 of the LMRA. Appellee's Br. at 4. On the same date, AT & T moved to have the case dismissed for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Ms. Marzuki answered AT & T's motion to dismiss and, on April 28, 1986, filed a petition to remand asserting that 28 U.S.C. § 1445(c) prevented the removal because the action arose under the workers' compensation laws of Illinois. The court denied Ms. Marzuki's motion to remand to state court and, on July 14, 1987, the case was dismissed. The district court's judgment merely stated the following: "That [defendant's] motion to dismiss is granted. (See Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef, [Inc., 823 F.2d 1031 (7th Cir. 1987) (en banc)].)." R.22. Ms. Marzuki appeals the district court's order denying her petition to remand and the judgment dismissing her complaint.

This court rendered its en banc decision in Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef Inc, 823 F.2d 1031 (7th Cir. 1987) (en banc) on June 23, 1987. Ms. Marzuki filed her brief in this appeal on October 6, 1987. On October 23, 1987, the Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari in Lingle. Due to the identity of the issues, the proceedings in this case were stayed until the Supreme Court announced its decision in Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 108 S. Ct. 1877, 100 L. Ed. 2d 410 (1988). At this court's request, the parties filed supplemental briefs addressing the impact of the Supreme Court's decision in Lingle on the issues raised in their original briefs.

II.

Analysis

On appeal, we must decide whether the claim set forth in Ms. Marzuki's complaint is preempted by section 301 of the LMRA. If the claim is preempted, it was ...


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