United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
remand (Dkt. No. 10). Having thoroughly considered the
parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion
for the reasons explained herein.
Doherty Pierson worked for Defendant Northwest Steel &
Pipe, Inc. as a truck driver until he was terminated for
insubordination after refusing to load additional materials
into his truck at a job site. (Dkt. No. 10 at 2-3.) Defendant
relied upon disciplinary terms in a collective bargaining
agreement (“CBA”) between Defendant and
Plaintiff's union to terminate Plaintiff. (Dkt. No. 11 at
1.) Plaintiff subsequently brought suit in King County
Superior Court alleging that Defendant terminated him in
violation of Washington State public policy and the
Washington Law Against Discrimination (“the
WLAD”). (Dkt. No. 10 at 3); see Wash. Rev.
Code § 49.60, et seq. Defendant removed the
case to federal court based on federal questions
jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff moves to remand. (Dkt.
defendant is entitled to remove a lawsuit if the action could
have originally been brought in federal district court.
Grable & Sons Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g &
Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 312 (2005); 28 U.S.C § 1441(a).
The removing party bears the burden of establishing that
federal subject matter jurisdiction existed at the time of
removal. Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix Inc., 167 F.3d
1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999). “The removal statute is
strongly construed against removal jurisdiction.”
Prize Frize, 167 F.3d at 1265. The Court must remand
a case if it lacked subject matter jurisdiction at the time
of removal. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
asserts the Court has subject matter jurisdiction because
Plaintiff raised a federal question by referencing or relying
on federal law. (Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4.) First, Defendant argues
that Plaintiff raised a federal question by citing the
Surface Transportation Assistance Act (“STAA”),
49 U.S.C. section 31105, in support of his claim that his
termination violated Washington State public policy.
(Id. at 3.) Additionally, Defendant contends that
Plaintiff's wrongful termination claim is founded on
rights “created by the [CBA].” (Id. at
3.) Accordingly, Defendant argues that section 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29
U.S.C. section 185(a), preempts Plaintiff's state-law
claims, since these claims are “inextricably
intertwined” with the terms of the CBA. (Id.
question jurisdiction exists only where the well-pleaded
complaint clearly shows that federal law creates the cause of
action or that vindication of a right under state law
“necessarily depends on a substantial question of
federal law.” Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251,
258 (2013); Easton v. Crossland Mortg. Corp., 114
F.3d 979, 982 (9th Cir. 1997). When a plaintiff invokes
federal law as part of a state-law claim, the Court
determines whether jurisdiction is appropriate. Merrell
Dow Pharms. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 813-14
(1986). This determination rests not merely on the
“literal language” of the complaint, but also on
a practical analysis of the plaintiff's claims and the
form that a “well-pleaded complaint” would take.
Easton, 144 F.3d at 982.
Removal under STAA
reference to the STAA does not raise a federal question.
(See Dkt. No. 1-2 at 4.) Defendant correctly
concedes this point. See Easton, 144 F.3d at 982 (a
mechanical reference to a federal law does not necessarily
confer jurisdiction); (see generally Dkt. No. 11 at
1-12) (failing to argue this basis for jurisdiction in
response to Plaintiff's motion to remand).
Removal under Section 301
Court's jurisdiction rests on whether section 301
preempts Plaintiff's claim for discrimination in
violation of public policy or the WLAD. Section 301 preempts
state-law claims “founded directly on rights created by
collective bargaining agreements.” Caterpillar Inc.
v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 394 (1987). However, if the
state-law claims exist independently of the CBA provisions,
as they do here, then section 301 only preempts the claims if
they rely substantially on interpretation of the CBA.
Burnside v. Kiewit Pac. Corp., 491 F.3d 1053, 1059
(9th Cir. 2007). To decide whether claims rely substantially
on interpretation of the CBA, the Court must determine
whether the “claim[s] can be resolved by looking to
versus interpreting the CBA.” Burnside, 491
F.3d at 1060. When the Court need only look at the
CBA to resolve the claims, they are not preempted.
Id. (emphasis added). Furthermore, the Ninth Circuit
has ruled that “a CBA ...