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12/27/89 Patricia J. Miranda, v. Jewel Companies

December 27, 1989





548 N.E.2d 1348, 192 Ill. App. 3d 586, 139 Ill. Dec. 634 1989.IL.2032

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Anthony M. Peccarelli, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE DUNN delivered the opinion of the court. McLAREN and WOODWARD, JJ., concur.


Plaintiff, Patricia J. Miranda, appeals the trial court's order dismissing her complaint with prejudice, the trial court having found plaintiff's fraud claim against her employer, defendant, Jewel Companies, Inc., preempted by Federal labor law. On appeal, plaintiff contends that the existing collective-bargaining agreement and the Federal labor statutes are not applicable to her fraud claim and need not be analyzed in order to resolve the claims alleged in her complaint. We affirm the dismissal for the reasons discussed below. I. THE STANDARD OF REVIEW

The trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss filed pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-619). Defendant asserted, inter alia, that section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act preempted plaintiff's claim (29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a) (West 1982)). A movant proceeding under section 2-619 concedes all well-pleaded facts contained in the complaint but does not admit Conclusions of law or Conclusions of material fact unsupported by allegations of material fact. (Magnuson v. Schaider (1989), 183 Ill. App. 3d 344, 352, 538 N.E.2d 1309, 1315; see also Ronning Engineering Co. v. Adams Pride Alfalfa Corp. (1989), 181 Ill. App. 3d 753, 757, 537 N.E.2d 1032, 1035.) Such motion to dismiss should be granted only when it raises an affirmative matter which negates the plaintiff's cause of action completely or which refutes crucial Conclusions of law or material fact that are unsupported by specific facts alleged in the plaintiff's complaint. (Egidi v. Town of Libertyville (1989), 181 Ill. App. 3d 542, 546, 537 N.E.2d 369, 372.) The function of the appellate court in reviewing the trial court's dismissal of a complaint pursuant to section 2-619 is limited to a consideration of the legal questions presented by the pleadings. (See Ronning Engineering Co., 181 Ill. App. 3d at 758, 537 N.E.2d at 1035); however, such review is independent, and the appellate court is not required to defer to the trial court's reasoning. (See Oak Park Trust & Savings Bank v. Village of Mount Prospect (1989), 181 Ill. App. 3d 10, 19, 536 N.E.2d 763, 769.) Thus, although we concur in the result reached by the trial court, viz., dismissal with prejudice of plaintiff's complaint, we believe that the trial court's reasoning, although correct, is insufficient to support such a result. Nevertheless, a reviewing court may affirm a dismissal of a complaint on any grounds supported by the record. Woodson v. North Chicago Community School District No. 64 (1989), 187 Ill. App. 3d 168, 172, 543 N.E.2d 290, 292.

The issue presented by plaintiff's appeal is whether the trial court properly dismissed plaintiff's complaint with prejudice as preempted by Federal labor law. As discussed below, insofar as the resolution of plaintiff's claims requires the interpretation and application of a collective-bargaining agreement, State court jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims is duly preempted by Federal labor law; however, insofar as plaintiff's claims rely upon and must be resolved by reference to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.), the Act provides the exclusive remedies for the economic losses she alleges.

The following facts may be adduced from the record on appeal. Plaintiff, an employee of defendant since 1963, sustained a work-related injury to her foot on August 2, 1984. Defendant did not dispute plaintiff's injury or plaintiff's entitlement to compensation benefits pursuant to the Act. At some point in 1985, defendant made a statement to plaintiff to the effect that she was not entitled to receive compensation benefits simultaneously with vacation pay, apparently in response to plaintiff's inquiry on this subject. Defendant then proceeded to pay plaintiff for four weeks' vacation and, thereafter, reinstituted payment of compensation benefits to plaintiff.

At the times relevant to plaintiff's allegations, the terms and conditions of plaintiff's employment with defendant were subject to a collective-bargaining agreement between defendant and plaintiff's union. The collective-bargaining agreement provided for employees' vacations and vacation pay; it further provided for leave of absence for employees due to illness or injury. Finally, the collective-bargaining agreement provided for the arbitration of grievances, which it defined as "any dispute involving the interpretation or application of the provisions of the Contract." Plaintiff's complaint alleges the existence of the parties' collective-bargaining agreement and the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

The complaint further alleges that defendant's representation concerning plaintiff's entitlement to workers' compensation benefits with regard to vacation pay was a false representation made by defendant intentionally and with the knowledge that plaintiff would rely upon it. The complaint goes on to allege that it was defendant's policy to substitute wages for such benefits and that the policy constituted a fraudulent practice which deprived plaintiff of wages and statutory benefits. We note these allegations separately from the facts set out above for the simple reason that these allegations are not well-pleaded facts but constitute, in the main, Conclusions of law which may not be presumed as true in the context of a section 2 -- 619 motion to dismiss. (See Magnuson, 183 Ill. App. 3d at 352, 538 N.E.2d at 315.) In essence, plaintiff claims that because her employer told her she could not collect vacation pay and workers' compensation benefits simultaneously, her employer committed fraud upon her.

Without Discussion, the trial court rejected defendant's initial motion to dismiss which alleged that the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act provided plaintiff's exclusive remedy, or, in the alternative, that plaintiff was required to exhaust her administrative remedies pursuant to the grievance-arbitration mechanism contained in the collective-bargaining agreement. Defendant next sought dismissal of plaintiff's complaint on the theory that Federal labor law preempted her claims, and it was on this basis that the trial court granted the dismissal with prejudice. II. FEDERAL LABOR LAW AND THE PREEMPTION OF STATE LAW CLAIMS

Federal preemption under section 301(a) of the LMRA applies only where the resolution of a State court plaintiff's claims requires the interpretation of a collective-bargaining agreement. (Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef, Inc. (1988), 486 U.S. 399, 406, 100 L. Ed. 2d 410, 418-19, 108 S. Ct. 1877, 1881; see also Gonzalez v. Prestress Engineering Corp. (1986), 115 Ill. 2d 1, 11, 503 N.E.2d 308, 312, cert. denied (1987), 483 U.S. 1032, 97 L. Ed. 2d 779, 107 S. Ct. 3248.) In Lingle, the Supreme Court stated:

"f the resolution of a state-law claim depends upon the meaning of a collective-bargaining agreement, the application of state law (which might lead to inconsistent results since there could be as many state-law principles as there are States) is pre-empted and federal labor-law principles -- necessarily uniform throughout the nation -- must be employed ...

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