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Marvin andrews v. Teamsters Local 705

December 20, 2010

MARVIN ANDREWS PLAINTIFF,
v.
TEAMSTERS LOCAL 705, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On September 8, 2009, plaintiff Marvin Andrews ("Andrews") filed his Amended Complaint against defendant International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 705 ("Local 705") under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185 ("LMRA") for breach of Local 705's duty of fair representation (Count I). (Dkt. No. 18.)*fn1 Currently before the court is Local 705's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 36). For the reasons explained below, Local 705's Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Local 705 is an unincorporated labor organization doing business in Cook County and representing employees of various employers including Pacific Rail Services ("Pacific Rail").

(Dkt. No 38 ("Local 705's Local R. 56.1(a)(3) Stmt.") ¶ 1.) *fn2 Pacific Rail is engaged in the business of handling railroad trains and box cars, among other services for the rail industry in Cook County, Illinois. (Id. ¶ 5.) Andrews worked for Pacific Rail as a groundman/spotter from the start of his employment in 2004 until his termination on July 17, 2008. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 18.) At all relevant times, Andrews has been a member of Local 705, and his employment has been governed by a collective bargaining agreement entered into between Pacific Rail and Local 705. (Id. ¶ 6.)

According to Andrews, on July 10, 2008, he injured himself while unlocking railcar hitches, which open and release the trailer being carried on the railcar. (Id. ¶9, 11.) Specifically, Andrews claims that the hitch on one of the railcars he was unlocking on Track 1703 broke or snapped when he struck his metal bar into the hitch and applied pressure, resulting in him pulling a muscle in his shoulder. (Id. ¶ 11.) After the hitch broke, Andrews walked down the track and flagged down his supervisor, Shannon Walker, who picked up Andrews. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) Andrews explained to Walker that he had injured himself. (Id. ¶ 12.) Although Walker suggested that Andrews go home, Andrews stated that going home was not the proper protocol and instead told Walker that he wanted to go to the doctor. (Id. ¶ 13.)

After Andrews spoke with Walker, Pacific Rail supervisor John Wendt drove Andrews back to the track. (Id. ¶ 14.) Andrews tried to show Wendt the broken hitch but was unable to identify the train car on which he had injured himself. (Id. ¶ 14.) Andrews then went to a doctor who diagnosed Andrews as having a pulled shoulder muscle. The doctor did not prescribe any treatment for Andrews (id. ¶ 16), and Andrews returned to work the next day with light duty restrictions (id. ¶ 17).

Following Andrews's alleged injury, Pacific Rail had inspectors from two independent companies, Burlington Northern Rail and its subcontractor TTX, inspect all the cars on Track 1703 on July 10, 2008. (Id. ¶ 15.) These inspectors did not find any defects in the hitches. (Id.)

On July 17, 2008, Pacific Rail gave Andrews a letter signed by terminal manager Michael Susnar terminating Andrews's employment on the basis of "proven dishonesty or theft" for dishonestly claiming that a broken hitch caused his alleged injury. (Id. ¶ 18; Local 705's Ex. 7, Hearing Tr. 19:8-17, Sept. 17, 2008.) After Andrews received the termination letter, he contacted his Local 705 union steward who assisted Andrews in filing a grievance, which was Grievance No. 161435. (Id. ¶ 20.)

Santos Marinez, the Local 705 business agent assigned to Pacific Rail, represented Andrews with respect to Andrews's grievance against Pacific Rail. (Id. ¶ 26.) Marinez suggested to Andrews that Andrews write down the events of July 10, 2008, and also document any instances of retaliation by supervisors which Andrews felt had occurred. (Id. ¶ 22.)

Before representing Andrews at the Joint Grievance Committee hearing, Marinez went to Andrews's former work site to examine the railcar hitches, as well as any other condition on the railbed which might have contributed to Andrews's injury. (Id. ¶ 26.) Marinez also spoke with other persons who might have had evidence that could support Andrews's grievance. (Id. ¶ 27.)

The Joint Grievance Committee heard Andrews's case on September 17, 2008, and Andrews attended the hearing. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 23.) During the hearing, Marinez gave opening and rebuttal statements and presented evidence on Andrews's behalf, including six exhibits. (Id. ¶ 23; Hearing Tr. 20:3-33:9; 34:15-4.) After the presentation of evidence at the hearing, Andrews informed the Grievance Committee that he and Local 705 had offered all the evidence that Andrews wanted included in the record. (Local 705's Local R. 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 24; Hearing Tr. 44:14-16.) When asked by one of the officials at the hearing if Andrews felt that Local 705 had properly represented him before the Committee, Andrews responded "yes." (Local 705's Local R. 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 24; Hearing Tr. 44:17-20.) The Joint Grievance Committee deadlocked on Andrews's grievance with the Pacific Rail and Local 705 members on the Committee evenly divided. (Local 705's Local R. 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 28.) Local 705 ultimately decided against proceeding to arbitration on Andrews's grievance. (Id. ¶ 31.)

LEGAL STANDARD

A grant of summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). "There is no genuine issue of material fact when no reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party." Brewer v. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of Ill., 479 F.3d 908, 915 (7th Cir. 2007). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the facts before it in the light most favorable to the ...


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