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Sarah Jackson v. Illinois Laborers' & Contracting Training Trust Fund

December 7, 2011

SARAH JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS LABORERS' & CONTRACTING TRAINING TRUST FUND, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge:

Wednesday, 07 December, 2011 03:36:27 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Posit: Who has jurisdiction?

The Defendant removed this case from state court, claiming that jurisdiction lies here because the action involves at least one federal question.

The Court finds that Plaintiff's claims are preempted by federal law. Therefore, Plaintiff's Objection to removal is Denied.

At the end of the day, Plaintiff's claims are deficient and Defendant's Motion to dismiss must be Allowed.

I.

In Count I of her complaint, the Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment and to compel arbitration. In Count II, the Plaintiff asserts a claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing because of the Defendant's failure to arbitrate. Count III is a claim for specific performance--that the Defendant be directed to submit the dispute to arbitration.

In her Objection to removal, the Plaintiff states that the gravamen of her complaint is that Defendant first agreed to arbitrate her grievances, disputes, and claims and then reneged, balked or refused. The Plaintiff further claims that regardless of any defenses that Defendant may advance to her claims, state law remedies lie for the breach of an agreement.

The Plaintiff further asserts that no question of labor management policy is presented by the allegation that Defendant renounced the agreement. The Plaintiff makes no claim against Local 773 or any labor organization, nor does she ask Local 773 to participate in anything. The reference in the Complaint to membership in Local 773 is merely background for the origin of the initial agreement between these two parties.

Although the Plaintiff emphasizes that she makes no claim against the union, it is apparent upon review that the gravamen of her complaint is that Defendant has refused to arbitrate her grievance and underlying dispute in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement's grievance machinery.

The Plaintiff contends that a determination of whether the Defendant's refusal to arbitrate her claim is a unique question of state law. She states that in Penn v. Ryan's Family Steak Houses, Inc., 269 F.3d 753 (2001), the Seventh Circuit considered the existence of an agreement to arbitrate between employer and employee as a question of state law. As the Defendant alleges, however, Penn is inapposite. In Penn, the employee had signed an arbitration agreement with a third party governing employment disputes with the employer. 269 F.3d at 755. It thus did not involve the typical direct employer/employee arbitration dispute. See id.

The Plaintiff further asserts that there is no unique question of federal law that requires the interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement or any other collateral document. The questions involve strictly state law issues, including whether (1) there was an agreement; (2) there was a breach, balk or renege; (3) there was an ...


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