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JANIK v. BUHRKE TECH INT'L

May 1, 1998

EUGENE JANIK, Plaintiff,
v.
BUHRKE TECH INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 The plaintiff, Eugene Janik, sued the defendant, Buhrke Tech International, Inc. ("Buhrke"), under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Buhrke moves for summary judgment based on the doctrine of res judicata. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

 Background

 In 1994, Buhrke began operations after purchasing assets from Buhrke Industries. Buhrke manufactures and sells tools and dyes for the canning industry. Before his termination, Mr. Janik worked for Buhrke as a tool and dye maker. Mr. Janik worked for Buhrke Industries for over twenty years before beginning work with Buhrke.

 After Buhrke began operations, it negotiated a new Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") with Mr. Janik's bargaining representative, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers AFL-CIO Local Lodge No. 113 ("Union"). Except in instances where skill and ability are equal among employees, the CBA voids the effect of seniority in determining which workers will be laid-off. (Df. App. 8 at 5, § 8.2). Mr. Janik voted against the CBA.

 In early 1996, Buhrke decided to lay-off four employees. (Rule 12(M) Statement P 20). On May 8, 1996, a meeting was held and Mr. Janik was informed he was being terminated due to a lack of work at Buhrke. After the meeting, Mr. Janik met with Union Steward Rob Sass to find out what the Union was going to do about his termination. (Rule 12(N) Statement P 50). Mr. Sass informed Mr. Janik there was nothing the Union could do about the termination. (Rule 12(N) Statement P 51). Mr. Janik did not file a grievance with the Union regarding his termination. (Rule 12(M) Statement P 27). At the time of his termination, Mr. Janik was fifty-four years old. (Rule 12(N) Statement P 42).

 On July 12, 1996, Mr. Janik filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Rule 12(M) Statement P 8). On September 13, 1996, Mr. Janik filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois against Buhrke and the Union alleging violation of Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"). On March 28, 1997, the IDHR entered a finding of lack of substantial evidence of discrimination. (Df. App. 7). On April 4, 1997, the EEOC issued Mr. Janik a right to sue letter. (Df. App. 2, Ex. 1). On May 27, 1997, the district court entered summary judgment in favor of Buhrke in Mr. Janik's LMRA suit. (Df. App. 9). Mr. Janik filed this suit on June 19, 1997.

 Res Judicata

 Buhrke argues res judicata bars Mr. Janik's ADEA claim due to the disposition of Mr. Janik's LMRA suit. Res judicata bars a second suit if there exists: "(1) an identity of the causes of actions; (2) an identity of the parties or their privies; and (3) a final judgment on the merits." Kratville v. Runyon, 90 F.3d 195, 197 (7th Cir. 1996)(citation omitted). If all three requirements are met, a party is precluded from "relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in [the previous action]." Federated Dep't Stores, Inc. v. Moitie, 452 U.S. 394, 398, 69 L. Ed. 2d 103, 101 S. Ct. 2424 (1981). Mr. Janik does not dispute that there is an identity of parties and the summary judgment disposition in his previous suit was a final judgment on the merits. Rather, Mr. Janik suggests there is not an identity of the causes of action.

 While both of Mr. Janik's claims arise from his termination, that alone is insufficient to the meet the "identity" test. Herrmann v. Cencom Cable Associates, Inc., 999 F.2d 223, 225-27 (7th Cir. 1993). "A claim is deemed to have 'identity' with a previously litigated matter if it is based on the same, or nearly the same, factual allegations arising from the same transaction or occurrence." 90 F.3d at 198 (citation omitted). Thus, each complaint must be examined to determine whether Mr. Janik's claims are premised on similar factual allegations.

 Mr. Janik's LMRA claim asserted that, before his termination, he worked for Buhrke Industries for twenty-two years and Buhrke for two years. ( Df. App. 3 P. 6). Mr. Janik claimed his employment was governed by the CBA and that the Union had a duty to fairly represent him with respect to the implementation of a seniority system and the processing of grievances. (Df. App. 3 PP 7-8). Mr. Janik alleged he was fifty-four when terminated on May 8, 1996, and that under the CBA, in the event of a workforce reduction, he had "bumping rights" over less senior members of the Union. (Df. App. 3 PP 9-10). *fn1" He claimed he was denied these "bumping rights" and "as a result, [he] was laid-off while younger, less senior members of the bargaining unit retained jobs in the bargaining unit." ( Df. App. 3 P. 10). Mr. Janik further alleged that he was told by his Union Steward that there was nothing the Union could do about the termination. ( Df. App. 3 P. 11).

 Mr. Janik sued the Union alleging its refusal to process his complaint was made in bad faith and with the intent of terminating his membership because of his age. ( Df. App. 3 P. 14). Mr. Janik sued the Union and Buhrke claiming Buhrke violated the CBA by not granting him "bumping rights." ( Df. App. 3 P. 18).

 Mr. Janik's ADEA claim alleges the same work history as his LMRA claim. ( Df. App. 2 P. 6). Mr. Janik's ADEA claim also alleges he was fifty-four when he was terminated, he had "bumping rights," his "bumping rights" were violated, and "as a result, [he] was laid off while younger, less senior members of the bargaining unit retained jobs in the bargaining unit." (Df. App. 2 PP 9-10). Mr. Janik's ADEA complaint alleges that, several months before his termination, Buhrke hired a substantially younger employee who Mr. Janik helped train. ( Df. App. 2 P. 12). Mr. Janik also alleges Buhrke transferred younger employees to vacant positions but refused to transfer him although the position he was in was going to be replaced by a mechanical control. ( Df. App. 2 P. 13). Mr. Janik alleges that Buhrke refused to abide by his "bumping rights" and instead terminated him based on his age. ( Df. App. 2 P. 16).

 Mr. Janik's LMRA claim and his ADEA claim are nearly identical. The only additional factual allegation in Mr. Janik's ADEA claim is Buhrke's hiring of a younger employee who was not terminated and Buhrke's refusal to transfer Mr. Janik. Further, both complaints allege Mr. Janik's "bumping rights" were violated resulting in a benefit to younger employees while rendering Mr. Janik's seniority useless. Indeed, in both suits Mr. Janik complained that younger employees were not laid-off while he was terminated. ( Df. App. 2 P. 10; Df. App. 3 P. ...


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