United States District Court, D. Maryland
TRACY L. VALLE, Plaintiff,
CLINICAL REFERENCE LABORATORY, INC., et al., Defendants.
Xinis United States District Judge.
before the Court are Plaintiff's motion to remand (ECF
No. 9) and Defendants' motions to dismiss the Amended
Complaint (ECF Nos. 19, 23). The motions are fully briefed
and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For
the following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiff's
motion and grants Defendants' motions (ECF Nos. 19,
purposes of this Opinion, the Court accepts the facts pleaded
in the Amended Complaint as true and construes them most
favorably to Plaintiff, Tracy Valle (“Valle”).
See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th
Cir. 2011). As of June 2015, Valle was “employed by
Freeman Decorating Co.” and was also a member of the
Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
(“Union”). ECF No. 11 ¶¶ 2, 4. The
Union entered into a collective-bargaining agreement
negotiated by Defendant Trade Show Contractors Association of
Washington, DC and Vicinity (“TSCA”), on behalf
of its contractors, of which Freeman Decorating was one.
Id. ¶ 2; ECF No. 23-2 at 39.
agreement, known as the Show Site Agreement
(“SSA”) “governed Union members' work
on trade shows within the geographical area of the
Union.” ECF No. 11 ¶ 2. Under the SSA, Union
members are “subject to unannounced random drug and
alcohol testing during any working hours.” ECF No. 23-2
at 23. If a Union member tests positive for any of the
controlled substances listed in the SSA, which includes
phencyclidine (id. at 24), the SSA commands that the
member is removed from the “Employer's payroll and
is immediately suspended from employment and ineligible for
dispatch by the Union to any Employer signatory.”
Id. at 25.
30, 2015, Valle was working at the Gaylord National Resort
and Convention Center on a job covered by the SSA. TSCA
requested that Valle submit to a random drug test on
location. ECF No. 11 ¶ 5. Valle complied, and the test
was administered by Friends Multiservice, Inc., “an
agent, servant or employee” of Defendant Clinical
Reference Laboratory, Inc. (“CRL”). Id.
¶¶ 5, 6. Two weeks later, CRL's Medical Review
Officer, Dr. Charles Briggs, notified Valle that her drug
test results returned positive for phencyclidine.
Id. ¶ 7. Valle challenged the validity of the
results, telling Dr. Briggs that she had not taken the drug.
Id. Valle followed up with TSCA shortly after and
was informed that she “could not return to the Gaylord
trade show site nor could she work on any other trade show
site” covered by the SSA. Id. ¶ 8.
on these events, Valle sued CRL, TSCA and the Union in the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County on June 18,
2018, for breach of the SSA and wrongful discharge. ECF No. 1
¶ 1; ECF No. 1-4 at 1-2. Defendant TSCA, with the
consent of CRL and the Union, removed the action to this
Court. As grounds for removal, TSCA maintained that federal
question jurisdiction existed because the claims concerned
breach of a collective bargaining agreement, and thus, are
preempted under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations
Act (“LMRA”). ECF No. 1 ¶ 4. TSCA and CRL
(collectively, “Defendants”) then moved to
dismiss the action for failure to state a claim. ECF Nos. 2,
response, Valle simultaneously amended the Complaint to
eliminate the breach of contract claim, dismissed the Union
as a defendant, and moved to remand the case to state court
because the remaining wrongful discharge claim “lie[s]
under Maryland law, not federal law.” ECF No. 9 ¶
2; see also ECF Nos. 9-11. Defendants again moved to
dismiss the wrongful discharge count as time-barred and for
failure to state a claim. ECF Nos. 19, 23. The Court first
considers Valle's remand motion.
Motion to Remand
Standard of Review
court actions that originally could have been brought in
federal court may be removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386,
392 (1987); Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co.,
29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994). Section 1441 permits
removal pursuant to this Court's federal question
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). When removal is
challenged, the defendant as the removing party bears the
burden of “demonstrating the court's jurisdiction
over the matter.” Strawn v. AT & T Mobility,
LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 296 (4th Cir. 2008). Federal courts
construe removal statutes strictly and resolve all doubts in
favor of remand. See Md. Stadium Auth. v. Ellerbe Becket,
Inc., 407 F.3d 255, 260 (4th Cir. 2005).
to Defendants, removal is proper because Valle's wrongful
discharge claim is preempted under § 301 of the LMRA