United States District Court, D. Maryland
Tonyia Whorton et al.
Mack Trucks, Inc., et al.
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiffs, thirty-seven employees of Mack Trucks, Inc.
("Mack Trucks") and/or Volvo Group North America,
LLC ("Volvo") and dues paying members of
International Union, United Automobile Aerospace and
Agricultural Implement Workers of America ("UAW")
and/or Local No. 171 of UAW ("Local 171"), allege
that Mack Trucks and Volvo (the "employer
defendants") have illegally deducted money from their
paychecks, and that UAW and Local 171 (the "union
defendants") have breached their duty to fairly
represent the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs filed their
complaint in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Washington
County on January 10, 2019, and the defendants removed the
case to this court on February 12, 2019. Now pending are the
union defendants' motion to dismiss and the
plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their complaint.
The motions have been fully briefed and no oral argument is
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
union defendants are the plaintiffs' exclusive collective
bargaining agent under the collective bargaining agreement
("CBA"). (Compl. ¶ 52). In 2011 and 2012, the
employer defendants and union defendants signed a memorandum
of understanding ("MOU") and memorandum of
agreement ("MOA") regarding how the seniority of
temporary employees who are later hired as permanent
employees would be calculated. (Id. ¶¶ 60,
61). At some point, however, the seniority and, in
particular, the employees' vacation entitlements became
disputed, and the union filed a grievance (the "wage
grievance") on November 7, 2016. (Id. ¶
53; ECF 11- 2 at 34, 2016 Wage Grievance). The union,
however, withdrew that grievance on September 19, 2017,
(Compl. ¶ 53; ECF 11-2 at 36, Withdrawal of Grievance),
and on October 25, 2017, entered into an MOU with the
employer defendants regarding the repayment of vacation
payments the employees were alleged to have received in error
(ECF 11-2 at 46, MOU Regarding the Overpayment of Vacation
Benefits ("2017 MOU")). According to the
plaintiffs, this MOU "improperly attempted to
retroactively nullify the seniority terms of the"
earlier agreements. (Compl. ¶ 72).
in 2017 or 2018, the employer defendants began informing the
plaintiffs that they would need to repay the amount they had
been overpaid for used and unused vacation time.
(Id. ¶ 65). On April 11, 2018, the union
consulted an attorney, who advised the union that the
repayments were in violation of the 2011 MOU and 2012 MOA.
(Id. ¶ 68). Local 171's president, David
Dopp, also sought legal advice from this lawyer personally
regarding the seniority status and wage deductions and, after
he did so, the lawyer was unable to represent the plaintiffs
because doing so would create a conflict of interest with
Dopp. (Id. ¶ 72). The plaintiffs allege that
David Dopp "appears to have intentionally created a
conflict of interest," and on July 5, 2018, the
plaintiffs sent Dopp a demand to "immediately obtain
replacement counsel. . . due to Mr. Dopp's improper
actions." (Id. ¶ 72-73).
plaintiffs allege in Count III of their complaint that
the union defendants breached their duty of fair
representation by "withdrawing Plaintiffs' Wage
Grievance, failing/refusing to initiate/demand arbitration of
Plaintiffs' Wage Grievance, failing/refusing to seek fair
compensation for Plaintiffs' Wage Grievance, and/or
sabotaging Plaintiffs' rights to full compensation and/or
seniority status to which [they] are/were entitled."
(Id. ¶ 74).
plaintiffs' corrected motion for leave to amend their
complaint, they seek to add another allegation that the union
defendants attempted to thwart, refused to process, and
refused to pursue grievances filed by the plaintiffs in
December 2018 relating to the wage deductions made between
June 2018 and December 2018. (ECF 19-2, Proposed Am. Compl.
survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of a
complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). "To
satisfy this standard, a plaintiff need not
'forecast' evidence sufficient to prove the elements
of the claim. However, the complaint must allege sufficient
facts to establish those elements." Walters v.
McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citation
omitted). "Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to
demonstrate in a complaint that the right to relief is
'probable,' the complaint must advance the plaintiffs
claim 'across the line from conceivable to
plausible.'" Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). Additionally, although courts "must
view the facts alleged in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff," they "will not accept 'legal
conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions, or arguments'" in deciding
whether a case should survive a motion to dismiss. U.S.
ex rel. Nathan v. Takeda Pharm. North Am., Inc., 707
F.3d 451, 455 (4th.Cir. 2013) (quoting Wag More Dogs, LLC
v. Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012)).
to amend should be freely granted under Rule 15(a), and
amendments are generally accepted absent futility, undue
prejudice, or bad faith. See Foman v. Davis, 371
U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Matrix Capital Mgmt. Fund, LP v.
BearingPoint, Inc., 576 F.3d 172, 193 (4th Cir. 2009)
(explaining that leave to amend "should be denied only
when the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing
party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving
party, or amendment would be futile.").
union defendants argue in their motion to dismiss that the
plaintiffs' claim for breach of the duty of fair
representation ("DFR claim") is time-barred, as the
complaint was filed past the six-month statute of limitations
set forth in Section 10(b) of the National Labor Relations
Act ("NLRA"). The plaintiffs argue that the
applicable statute of limitations is Maryland's
three-year statute of limitations for contract claims.
applicable statute of limitations:
parties first disagree as to whether the plaintiffs can bring
a DFR claim under state law, or whether they must bring it