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Hoss v. United Parcel Service

March 12, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge


Before the Court are Motions for Summary Judgment (Docket Nos. 31 and 32) by Defendants United Parcel Service (UPS) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local No. 690 (Teamsters). Plaintiff filed a motion for more time to respond to Defendants' Motions on the deadline for Plaintiff's response. Motion to Continue (Docket No. 37). In that request, Plaintiff asked the Court to enlarge time for Plaintiff to respond to November 25 or 27, 2009. Plaintiff did not file a response by November 27, 2009. As noted in the Court's Order (Docket No. 41) denying the Motion to Continue, the Court will now decide the Motions for Summary Judgment based on the pleadings timely filed and before the Court. For the following reasons, summary judgment is granted and this matter is dismissed.


Plaintiff Steve Hoss was employed by UPS from March 1995 to October 2007. In October 2007, UPS suspended, then ultimately terminated, Plaintiff's employment based on an incident in which Plaintiff allegedly caused damage to a UPS customer's loading dock door. First Amended Complaint (Docket No. 1) at 10-11. Plaintiff grieved the termination and was represented by the Teamsters. The UPS Labor Management Committee found in favor of UPS in the grievance proceedings. Plaintiff then brought this lawsuit against UPS and Teamsters, claiming breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, discrimination, breach of the duty of fair representation, and defamation. Id. at 13-22. Defendants now move for summary judgment.


One of the principal purposes of summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims . . . ." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). It is "not a disfavored procedural shortcut," but is instead the "principal tool[ ] by which factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public and private resources." Id. at 327. "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, id. at 255, and the Court must not make credibility findings. Id. Direct testimony of the non-movant must be believed, however implausible. Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir. 1999). On the other hand, the Court is not required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th Cir. 1988).

The Court must be "guided by the substantive evidentiary standards that apply to the case." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255. If a claim requires clear and convincing evidence, the issue on summary judgment is whether a reasonable jury could conclude that clear and convincing evidence supports the claim. Id.

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001)(en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir.2000).

This shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict in her favor. Id. at 256-57. The Court is "not required to comb through the record to find some reason to deny a motion for summary judgment." Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir.2001) (quoting Forsberg v. Pac. Northwest Bell Tel. Co., 840 F.2d 1409, 1418 (9th Cir. 1988)). Instead, the "party opposing summary judgment must direct [the Court's] attention to specific triable facts." Southern California Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003).*fn1 Only admissible evidence may be considered in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Orr v. Bank of America, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir.2002); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).


A. Claims for Discharge in Breach of Contract Against UPS, and Breach of Fair Representation Against Teamsters

Plaintiff alleges that UPS terminated Plaintiff's employment in breach of the collective bargaining agreement between Teamsters and UPS. First Amended Complaint (Docket No. 1) at 13. Plaintiff also alleges that Teamsters breached its duty of fair representation in Teamsters' representation of Plaintiff during Plaintiff's grievance proceedings. Id. at 18-21. Where a plaintiff claims his discharge was in breach of his employment contract (under "§ 301" of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185), and also claims the union breached its duty of fair representation (implied under the National Labor Relations Act), the two claims are inextricably linked; Plaintiff must prove both in order to prevail. See DelCostello v. Internat'l B'hd of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 164-65, 103 S.Ct. 2281, 2290-91 (1983); see also Slevira v. Western Sugar Co., 200 F.3d 1218, 1222 (9th Cir. 2000).

In order to show breach of a union's duty of fair representation, "an employee must show that the union's processing of the grievance was 'arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.'" Slevira, 200 F.3d at 1221, quoting Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 186, 87 S.Ct. 903 (1967). A showing of mere negligence is insufficient to establish a breach of the duty. Slevira, 200 F.3d at 1221. Rather, a union must have acted in ...

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