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CORPORATE TRAVEL CONSULTANTS, INC. v. UNITED AIR L

August 27, 1992

CORPORATE TRAVEL CONSULTANTS, INC., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
United Air Lines, Inc., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN F. GRADY

 Plaintiff has moved to remand this case to the Circuit Court of Cook County on the basis that removal was defective. For the reasons stated below, the court grants plaintiff's motion.

 FACTS

 Plaintiff Corporate Travel Consultants, Inc. filed this class action for injunctive relief and damages in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Plaintiff alleged that defendant United Airlines violated the Illinois Anti-Trust Act, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, § 60-1-60-11, by refusing to give discounts to travel agencies which would not use a computer reservations system designated by United. Defendant removed the case to this court on the bases of complete preemption, and alternatively the artful pleading exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule. Plaintiff now moves to remand this case to the Circuit Court.

 DISCUSSION

 It has long been recognized that a plaintiff is generally the master of his complaint. See The Fair v. Kohler Die & Specialty Co., 228 U.S. 22, 25, 57 L. Ed. 716, 33 S. Ct. 410 (1913). As master, a plaintiff can plead whichever causes of action he chooses. See id. Thus, a plaintiff can generally avoid federal jurisdiction by pleading state causes of action and by not pleading federal causes of action. See Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr., Comment, Artful Pleading and Removal Jurisdiction: Ferreting Out the True Nature of a Claim, 35 U.C.L.A. L.Rev. 315, 317 (1987).

 The well-pleaded complaint rule governs removal of the case from state to federal court. See Franchise Tax Bd. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 9-10 (1983). Under this rule, a defendant may remove the case to federal court only if a federal cause of action appears on the face of the plaintiff's complaint. See id. at 10. An exception to this rule is the artful pleading doctrine. A plaintiff may not avoid federal jurisdiction by "artfully Pleading" a state claim for what is essentially a federal claim. See People of State of Ill. v. Kerr-McGee Chem. Corp., 677 F.2d 571, 575 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1049, 103 S. Ct. 469, 74 L. Ed. 2d 618 (1982). The most common artful pleading exception is the complete preemption rule. See Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr., Comment, supra, at 330, 339-40. *fn1"

 According to the complete preemption rule, "Congress may so completely pre-empt a particular area that any civil complaint raising this select group of claims is necessarily federal in character." Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63-64, 95 L. Ed. 2d 55, 107 S. Ct. 1542 (1987). The Supreme Court has expressed a reluctance to find complete preemption: "On occasion, the Court has concluded that the pre-emptive force of a statute is so 'extraordinary' that it 'converts an ordinary state common-law complaint into one stating a federal claim for purposes of the well-pleaded complaint rule.'" Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393 (1987) (quoting Taylor, 481 U.S. at 65). Complete preemption has only been applied by the Supreme Court in cases implicating § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, and § 502(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. See Burda v. M. Ecker Co., 954 F.2d 434, 438 n.5 (7th Cir. 1992) (citing Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 95 L. Ed. 2d 55, 107 S. Ct. 1542 (1987), and Avco Corp. v. Aero Lodge No. 735, Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, 390 U.S. 557, 20 L. Ed. 2d 126, 88 S. Ct. 1235 (1968)); see also Rebecca Hanner White, Section 301's Preemption of State Law Claims: A Model for Analysis, 41 Ala. L.Rev. 377, 405 n.128 (1990); Eric James Moss, Note, The Breadth of Complete Preemption: Limiting the Doctrine to Its Roots, 76 Va. L.Rev. 1601, 1611-18 (1990).

 The Supreme Court was even reluctant to extend complete preemption to ERISA, which has a "unique preemptive force." Taylor, 481 U.S. at 65. The Court stated that

 even with a provision such as § 502(a)(1)(B) that lies at the heart of a statute with the unique pre-emptive force of ERISA, however, we would be reluctant to find that extraordinary pre-emptive power, such as has been found with respect to § 301 of the LMRA, that converts an ordinary state common law complaint into one stating a federal claim for purposes of the well-pleaded complaint rule. But the language of the jurisdictional subsection of ERISA's civil enforcement provision closely parallels that of § 301 of the LMRA.

 Id. (citations omitted). The jurisdictional subsection of ERISA states:

 the district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction, without respect to the amount in controversy or the citizenship of the parties, to grant the relief provided for in subsection (a) of this section in any action.

 29 U.S.C. § 1132(f); see Taylor, 481 U.S. at 65. And according to the LMRA,

 suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to ...


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