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ROBERT D. SCHACHT v. CATERPILLAR

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: March 9, 1992.

ROBERT D. SCHACHT, JR., ET AL
v.
CATERPILLAR, INC. CHARLES E. BINKLEY, ET AL. CATERPILLAR, INC.

ON PETITIONS FOR WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

Rehnquist, White, Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas.

The petitions for writs of certiorari are denied.

JUSTICE WHITE, joined by JUSTICE BLACKMUN, dissenting.

These cases present the question whether, following our decision in Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386 (1987), a state-law cause of action is pre-empted under § 301 of the LMRA by a defense based on a collective bargaining agreement. A state-law cause of action is pre-empted under § 301 if its resolution is "substantially dependent on analysis of a collective bargaining agreement." Electrical Workers v. Hechler, 481 U.S. 851, 859, n. 3 (1987). See also Allis-Chalmers v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 220 (1985).

In the decision below, petitioners based their claims solely on state law, but respondent's defense invoked the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement. The Illinois court held that petitioners' state-law claims were pre-empted under § 301 because their resolution was substantially dependent on interpretation of the applicable collective bargaining agreement. 571 N. E. 2d 1215, 1218. Several federal Courts of Appeals similarly have held that a court must look to defenses to determine whether a claim requires interpretation of a collective-bargaining agreement. See, e.g., Smith v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 943 F.2d 764, 769 - 771 (CA7 1991); Hanks v. General Motors Co., 859 F.2d 67, 70 (CA8 1988).

By contrast, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, relying on our decision in Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, has held that "in order for there to be section 301 pre-emption, the plaintiff, in its well-pleaded complaint, must plead an action that requires interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement." That Court accordingly examined the claims presented in the complaint and found no § 301 pre-emption. Berda v. C.B.S. Inc., 881 F.2d 20, 25 (CA3 1989). See also McCormick v. A.T.& T Technologies, Inc., 934 F.2d 531, 545 (CA4 1991) (en banc) (Phillips, J., dissenting). The Illinois Court below expressly rejected the reasoning of Berda.

I would grant certiorari to resolve this conflict.

19920309

© 1998 VersusLaw Inc.



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