641 F.3d 290 (8th Cir. 2011), 10-1848, Sanders v. Kohler Co.

Docket Nº:10-1848.
Citation:641 F.3d 290
Opinion Judge:WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Leroy SANDERS; Stacy Ashcraft; Julee Pratt; Dorothy Bailey; John Banks; James Bennett; Jason Bottoms; Barbara Bottoms; Randal Brannum; Treva Brannum; Jack Bratton; Marlene Burks; Lisa Burton; William Chaney; Billy Chasteen; Sherry Chasteen; Kenneth Cooperwood; Garrett W. Davis; Lakesha Decker; David Degrandchamp; Debra Ann Dozier; Lenora Driver; Me
Attorney:Brandon W. Lacy, argued, Jonesboro, AR, Scott James Lancaster, Maumelle, AR, Tony L. Wilcox, Jonesboro, AR, on the brief, for appellants. Harold Wayne Young, Jr., argued, Michael Scott Moore, on the brief, Little Rock, AR, for appellee.
Judge Panel:Before WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and SMITH, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:June 08, 2011
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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641 F.3d 290 (8th Cir. 2011)

Leroy SANDERS; Stacy Ashcraft; Julee Pratt; Dorothy Bailey; John Banks; James Bennett; Jason Bottoms; Barbara Bottoms; Randal Brannum; Treva Brannum; Jack Bratton; Marlene Burks; Lisa Burton; William Chaney; Billy Chasteen; Sherry Chasteen; Kenneth Cooperwood; Garrett W. Davis; Lakesha Decker; David Degrandchamp; Debra Ann Dozier; Lenora Driver; Meshell Duffy; Randall Eligh; Marlena R. English; Martez Freeman; Randal Frolos; Twyla Glass; Delma Goodlow; April C. Hefner; Debra C. Hoofman; Andrea M. Huhn; Thomas M. Hyde; Roger Johnson; Antonio King; Jeff Ladd; James F. Martin; Carol McCoy; Jamal McCoy; Amy McDaniels; John B. Meriweather; Brian Miller; Jerri Ann Miller; Lonnie Ray Miller; Zack Mitchell; Amber L. Moon; Jennifer Morris; Preston M. Morris; Marcus Murray; Richard Neal; Brenda Nevels; Terry Newnun; Jon Nicholson; Andrette D. Penn; Jessica Poyner; Chris Pruitt; Claudia Reynolds; Mark Runions; William Scruggs; Foster Sims; Bryan Smith; Diane Stacy; Scott Stephens; Antwan Sullivan; Dorothy Thompson; Kristie Thrasher; Cheryl Walker; Ramona Walker; Waszell Watson; Debbie Wiggins; Jim Winner; Barbara Woodard; Barbara Wren; Carol Yates; Teddy Williams; Mark Gaines; Helen Pruitt; Lori Lawrence; Linda J. Mell; Aaron Cooper; Dana Barnett; Bobby Swain; Jamie Swain; Carl McGahee, Jr.; Sheila Smith; Nathaniel Johnson; Rebecca Glick; Tabrea Aitkns; Irrelon Robinson, Jr.; Margie Ashby; Chris Duren; Sherman Durfee; Becky Price; George Barksdale; Billy Medler; Amy Harmon; Jamie Voyles; Lindell Bailey; Nicole Marie Henson; Theresa Jones; Debbie Belew; Jamie Mason; David Sterling, Jr.; Matthew Lloyd; Kenneth Middleton; Stephanie Stegall; Charles Hale; Nadine Segraves; William Sparks; Michael Goodwin; Gerald Mashburn, Appellants,

v.

KOHLER COMPANY, Appellee.

No. 10-1848.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

June 8, 2011

Submitted: Jan. 12, 2011.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Brandon W. Lacy, argued, Jonesboro, AR, Scott James Lancaster, Maumelle, AR, Tony L. Wilcox, Jonesboro, AR, on the brief, for appellants.

Harold Wayne Young, Jr., argued, Michael Scott Moore, on the brief, Little Rock, AR, for appellee.

Before WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

Appellants appeal from an order granting summary judgment to defendant Kohler Company (Kohler) on a claim arising under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), 29 U.S.C. § 2101, and dismissing without prejudice supplemental state law claims. The appellants alleged that Kohler hired them as temporary workers in the midst of a strike and then summarily dismissed them at the strike's conclusion without providing the notice required under the WARN Act. The district court 1 held that Kohler was not subject to the notice requirements because the appellants failed to establish that a " mass layoff" had occurred, as defined under § 2101(a). The appellants assert that the district court misconstrued the meaning of " mass layoff" and made findings that improperly glossed over genuine issues of material fact. We affirm.

I.

Kohler manufactures stainless steel bathroom and kitchen products at its plant in Searcy, Arkansas. As of 2006, approximately ninety-five percent of the employees belonged to the United Auto Workers Local 1000 (Union). Collective bargaining negotiations between the Union and Kohler stalled in December 2006, and 247 union workers went on strike. Kohler shut the plant down shortly after the strike commenced. Three months later, it placed advertisements in local newspapers, interviewed potential applicants, and hired 123 replacement workers, including all 111 appellants in this action.

In March 2007, Kohler sent a letter to the new hires in which it took the position

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that because the strike was an economic strike, new hires had the status of " permanent replacement workers." That letter also stated that if the strike was deemed an unfair labor practices strike, as the Union claimed, then Kohler would " be legally bound to release [the new hires] from employment to the extent necessary to create openings for any strikers who may want to return to work." In November 2007, management sent an email to supervisors on the floor instructing them to communicate to the replacement workers that they were " permanent Kohler associates and any strike settlement would not affect that." Kohler and the Union settled their dispute in March 2008. As part of the settlement, Kohler agreed to reinstate the strikers. Notwithstanding its prior assurances, Kohler fired the replacement workers after the strike settled and returned 103 of the original 247 striking workers to their former positions.

In late March, the appellants filed a complaint, claiming that Kohler had failed to provide adequate termination notice under the WARN Act and alleging supplemental state-law claims for breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, promissory estoppel, and civil conspiracy.

The WARN Act provides that covered employers must give at least sixty days' notice of a " plant closing" or a " mass layoff." § 2101(a). The Act defines a mass layoff as

a reduction in force which (A) is not the result of a plant closing; and (B) results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for ... at least 33 percent of the employees (excluding any part-time employees); and ... at least 50 employees (excluding any part-time employees)[.]

§ 2101(a)(3); see also Smullin v. Mity Enter., Inc., 420 F.3d 836, 838 (8th Cir.2005). The appellants alleged that Kohler's actions constituted a mass layoff that triggered the...

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