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Sluder v. United Mine Workers of America

decided: December 22, 1989.

TERRY RAY SLUDER AND TINA SLUDER, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, INTERNATIONAL UNION; UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, DISTRICT 12; JOHN DOE; AND TOM ROE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Springfield Division. No. 87-3086--Richard Mills, Judge.

Coffey, Flaum, and Ripple, Circuit Judges.

Author: Ripple

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge.

Terry Ray Sluder and Tina Sluder filed a three-count complaint against District 12 of the United Mine Workers of America, among others, for the personal injuries Mr. Sluder sustained when a wall collapsed in the coal mine where he was working. The district court concluded that resolution of two of the Sluders' counts required interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement that governed the terms of Mr. Sluder's employment. For this reason, the district court found that the claims were preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185,*fn1 and subject to dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The remaining count was dismissed with prejudice voluntarily by the Sluders. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

I

BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Terry Ray Sluder was a coal miner employed by AMAX Coal Company (AMAX) at its Wabash Mine in Keensburg, Illinois. Mr. Sluder was a member of the United Mine Workers of America, District 12 (District 12). The terms of his employment with AMAX were governed by a collective bargaining agreement known as the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1984. Mr. Sluder alleges that on July 31, 1986, and on prior occasions, "District 12, by and through its agents John Doe and/or Tom Roe, undertook to make inspections as to safety practices at the Wabash Mine in Keensburg, Illinois, which inspections included, but were not limited to, checking for proper for proper placement of rib bolts at said coal mining facility." R. 25 at 1-2.*fn2 Moments after the inspectors completed their inspection, the mine wall in the area where Mr. Sluder was working collapsed. Mr. Sluder was paralyzed as a result of the accident.

B. Procedural History

On November 24, 1986, Mr. Sluder and his wife filed a two-count complaint in the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Sangamon County, Illinois (cause No. 86-L-464) against District 12 and two unknown defendants, John Doe and Tom Roe, agents of District 12. On January 26, 1987, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that added both a third count and the International Union as a new defendant. Count I alleged that District 12, by and through its agents, undertook to make safety inspections of the coal mine where Mr. Sluder worked. It further alleged that District 12, by undertaking these inspections, became subject to the state common-law duty to perform these inspections with due care. Negligence in performing such inspections, the allegation continued, resulted in the collapse of the mine wall and caused serious personal injury to Mr. Sluder. Count II alleged that Mrs. Sluder had suffered the loss of her husband's services and that she had been deprived of his affection, society, companionship, and consortium. Count III alleged that both the International Union and District 12 breached a duty of fair and adequate representation under section 301 of the LMRA by failing to perform and enforce certain provisions of the collective bargaining agreement on Mr. Sluder's behalf.

On January 27, 1987, the Sluders filed a second complaint (cause No. 87-L-32) in the same court. The complaint in cause No. 87-L-32 was identical to the amended complaint in cause No. 86-L-464. On February 25, 1987, the union filed a petition for removal of both state court actions to the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The two state complaints were consolidated in the district court into one case, cause No. 87-3086. The Sluders neither objected to removal nor moved to remand the case to state court. On March 4, 1987, the International Union filed its motion to dismiss Count III of the Sluders' complaint. Two weeks later, District 12 moved to dismiss all three counts.

The case was referred to a magistrate. On February 18, 1988, the magistrate recommended that the district court dismiss Counts I and II of the Sluders' complaint as preempted by section 301 of the LMRA, but that Count III not be dismissed. Sluder v. United Mine Workers of America, 813 F.2d 396, Magistrate's Recommendation at 7 (C.D.Ill. 1988); R. 27 [hereinafter Recommendation]. On March 7, 1988, the district court adopted the Recommendation without change. Sluder v. United Mine Workers of America, No. 87-3086, Order at 1 (C.D.Ill. March 7, 1988); R.31. The Sluders then moved for a final dismissal order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) or, in the alternative, for an order permitting an interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). The district court denied this motion on June 10, 1988. In order to proceed with an immediate appeal of the dismissals of Counts I and II, the Sluders moved for dismissal of Count III with prejudice and for entry of final judgment. On August 30, 1988, the district court dismissed Count III and entered an order of final judgment. On September 27, 1988, the Sluders filed a timely notice of appeal.*fn3

C. District Court Opinion

The district court adopted the magistrate's reasoning as its own.*fn4 The magistrate had noted that, although the Sluders had not moved to remand the case to state court, it was the district court's responsibility to determine whether it had jurisdiction. The magistrate concluded that "[a] de novo review of plaintiffs' claims establishes that their ...


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