United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. BREDAR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Maurice Anthony Johnson filed this action against Defendant
Teamsters Local Union #570 on June 23, 2017 in this Court,
alleging a violation of a Collective Bargaining Agreement by
his former employer MTC Logistics, and a claim for breach of
the duty of fair representation by Defendant. (Compl. III,
ECF No. 1). Defendant brings this Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
6), asking the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint on
the ground that it is barred by the applicable statute of
limitations. Plaintiff has replied (ECF No. 9), the issue is
fully briefed, and there is no need for a hearing in this
matter. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
Defendant's motion will be granted by accompanying order.
Standard of Review
complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Facial plausibility exists “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. An inference
of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to
support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. Although when
considering a motion to dismiss a court must accept as true
all factual allegations in the complaint, this principle does
not apply to legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
is a motion to dismiss, the Court must look to the facts as
alleged in Plaintiffs Complaint. Plaintiffs Complaint is,
however, rather threadbare, and does not contain any
information with regard to the dates on which the alleged
actions occurred. This alone may be enough to dismiss the
Plaintiffs Complaint. See Bassoff v. Treanor, Pope, &
Hughes P.A., Civ. No. RDB-14-3753, 2015 WL 8757651 at
*4, *6 (D. Md. Dec. 15, 2015) (“A plaintiff fails to
state a claim where the allegations on the face of the
complaint show that an affirmative defense would bar
recovery, ” (citing Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
199, 214-215 (2007) and by failing to allege any dates in
connection to the allegations against the Defendant,
Plaintiffs Complaint “clearly establishes the merit of
Defendant's limitations defense”).
on Plaintiffs Reply to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 9), however, it appears that both parties generally agree
on the relevant timeline. Therefore, the Court here will look
beyond the Plaintiffs failure to state a necessary component
of his claim (i.e. the time when the actions occurred) and
will consider the dates provided by the Plaintiff in his
Reply, as well as the uncontested dates set forth in the
Affidavit of Defendant's Secretary-Treasurer (attached as
Exhibit 1 to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 6-2),
for the purpose of determining whether Plaintiffs claim
violates the statute of limitations.
was discharged by his employer MTC Logistics in March of
2014. (Mot. Dismiss Mem. Supp. 2, ECF No. 6-1; Pl.'s
Reply Mot. Dismiss 1, ECF No. 9) (referring to termination
letter “dated Wednesday March 12, 2014.”).)
Plaintiff's termination was in violation of a Collective
Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”). (Compl. III)
Plaintiff sought help from Defendant Local Union #570, but
Defendant failed to provide the representation that Plaintiff
needed. (Id.) Specifically, the Defendant
“allowed” MTC Logistics to terminate Plaintiff in
violation of the CBA, engaged in “bias[ed]
representation” during the grievance process, and
“did not follow the guidelines of the [CBA].”
(Id.) Plaintiff became aware that Defendant was
engaged in this behavior and unfairly representing him
sometime in 2014, and knew that Defendant had stopped
representing him at all by the end of 2014 at the latest.
(See Pl.'s Reply Mot. Dismiss 1 (discussing a
letter to the president of Local Union #570 dated June 10,
2014 “adamantly pleading with the President . . . to
personally investigate the unjust wrongful discharge of
[Plaintiff]” and noting that the Plaintiff
“repeatedly asked for non-bias[ed] representation
[throughout] the investigation.”); Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1,
Cedenio Aff. ¶ 7, ECF No. 6-2 (affidavit of Local Union
#570 Secretary-Treasurer and member of Executive Board
stating that Defendant notified Plaintiff by letter dated May
23, 2014 that Defendant “would not further process the
discharge grievance.”).) Plaintiff brought this action
against the Defendant nearly three years later, on June 23,
the Court must determine the nature of Plaintiff's claim.
Plaintiff does not cite to a specific statute, but does state
that the basis for federal court jurisdiction is federal
question jurisdiction, and explains that the substance of his
federal statutory grievance is “not honoring [a]
collective bargaining agreement [and] bias[ed] representation
at grievance [and] . . . . Termination of employment.”
(Compl. II.A.) This characterization of the action, in
addition to the facts alleged elsewhere in Plaintiff's
Complaint, strongly suggests that the Plaintiff is bringing a
claim under the National Labor Relations Act, specifically a
“'hybrid' § 301/fair representation
claim.” DelCostello v. Int'l Broth. of
Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 165 (1983) (referring to
Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29
U.S.C. §185(a)). In such an action, the employee has a
claim against his employer for breach of a CBA, and a claim
against his union for not fairly representing him in regard
to his claim against his employer. Id. at 164-65.
The employee may choose to sue only the union. Id.
at 165. The Court construes Plaintiffs claim as a hybrid
Section 301/fair representation claim.
statute of limitations with regard to a hybrid claim has been
well described in Bruce v. Int'l Longshoremen's
Ass'n, 7 F.Supp.2d 609, 614 (D. Md. 1998),
aff'd sub nom. Bruce v. Int'l
Longshoremen's Ass'n, AFL-CIO, 182 F.3d 907 (4th
A six-month statute of limitations applies to
“hybrid” claims under Section 301 . . . . For
limitations purposes, a Section 301 claim accrues when the
claimant discovers, or through the exercise of reasonable
diligence should have discovered, the acts constituting the
alleged violation. In the context of a grievance procedure, a
union member's cause of action against the union may
arise when the member's grievance is denied and the union
takes an unequivocal position that it will not seek
7 F.Supp.2d at 614 (quotations and citations omitted).
does not dispute Defendant's characterization of the
claim as a “hybrid” arising under Section 301.
Neither does Plaintiff deny that in 2014 he knew of
Defendant's actions that would give rise to a hybrid
Section 301 claim. The only argument Plaintiff raises in
opposition to the Defendant's contention that this action
is barred by the statute of limitations is that he was unware
of the statute of limitations. Unfortunately for the
Plaintiff, that is not a valid reason for tolling the statute
of limitations. See Dement v. Richmond, Fredericksburg
& Potomac R. Co.,845 F.2d 451, 460 (4th Cir. 1988)
(“The standard [for determining when an action accrued
in a hybrid Section 301 case] is an objective one; namely,
when the plaintiff knew, or should have known through the
exercise of due diligence, that his claim had
accrued.”); Miller v. Pac. Shore Funding, 224
F.Supp.2d 977, 987 (D. Md. 2002), aff'd, 92 F.
App'x 933 (4th Cir. 2004) (quoting Capital Dist.
Physician's Health Plan v. O'Higgins, 939
F.Supp. 992, 1000 (N.D.N.Y.1996)) (“If plaintiffs
remain unaware of their legal rights after notice of injury,
the statute of limitations sets an absolute deadline for
gaining awareness. A plaintiff must exercise reasonable
diligence-defined by the limitations period-'in
determining whether . . . particular acts or omissions
causing injury are actionable ...