Cook v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc., No. C04-3063-MWB.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
Writing for the CourtBennett
Citation353 F.Supp.2d 1002
PartiesDeborah COOK, Plaintiff, v. ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. C04-3063-MWB.
Decision Date26 January 2005
353 F.Supp.2d 1002
Deborah COOK, Plaintiff,
v.
ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant.
No. C04-3063-MWB.
United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division.
January 26, 2005.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Blake Parker, Blake, Parker Law Office, Fort Dodge, IA, for Plaintiff.

James R. Swanger, Belin, Lamson, McCormick, Zumbach, Flynn, Des Moines, IA, Keith L. Pryatel, Thomas Evan Green, Kastner, Westman & Wilkins, LLC, Akron, OH, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BENNETT, Chief Judge.


 TABLE OF CONTENTS
                 I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND .......................................1005
                 II. LEGAL ANALYSIS ....................................................1007
                 A. Standards For Summary Judgment ................................1007
                 B. The November 17, 2004, Order ..................................1007
                 C. Does The November 17, 2004, Order Have A Preclusive Effect? ...1008
                 1. Res judicata ..............................................1009
                 a. The law ...............................................1009
                 b. Arguments of the parties ..............................1011
                 c. Analysis ..............................................1012
                 2. Collateral estoppel .......................................1020
                 a. The law ...............................................1020
                 b. Arguments of the parties ..............................1020
                 c. Analysis ..............................................1021
                 D. Cook's IWPCL Claim ............................................1023
                 1. Is backpay "wages" under the IWPCL? .......................1023
                 a. Arguments of the parties ..............................1023
                 b. The law ...............................................1023
                 c. Analysis ..............................................1025
                III. CONCLUSION ........................................................1026
                
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

In 1999, plaintiff Deborah Cook ("Cook") became a production employee at defendant Electrolux Home Products, Inc.'s ("Electrolux") washing machine plant in Webster, Iowa. As such, Cook was a member of the Production Workers Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 422 ("UAW"). Beginning in 2001, Cook began missing days of work due to a medical condition. Cook was terminated on August 2, 2002, after she failed to provide Electrolux with FMLA certification for her July 31, 2002, absence. Following her termination, Cook obtained, and remitted to Electrolux, FMLA certification from a nurse practitioner, but Electrolux rejected the certification and stood by its decision to fire Cook.

The UAW filed a labor-arbitration grievance on Cook's behalf, seeking resolution of the following issue:

Did the Company have the "just cause" required by Article 16 of the working agreement to terminate the employment of the Grievant, Ms. Deborah Cook? If not, what should the remedy be?

Brief in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and in Support of Plaintiff's Resistance to Defendant's Motion

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for Summary Judgment ("Plf.'s Brief"), Doc. Nos. 22 & 23, Exh. 1, at 2. An Arbitration Decision dated November 23, 2003, sustained the grievance and ordered the following:

[Electrolux] is directed to reinstate [Cook] to the position she held immediately prior to her wrongful termination, or its equivalent, and to compensate her with back pay for the loss of wages and other benefits that she suffered as a result of its wrongful action.

Id. at 10. In closing, the arbitrator stated: "Jurisdiction is retained to resolve any controversies that may arise with respect to the proper implementation of this Award." Id. Though Electrolux complied with the portion of the award requiring reinstatement, it did not pay Cook the backpay for her loss of wages and other benefits.

On July 30, 2004, Cook filed a complaint against her former employer, Electrolux, alleging two causes of action: (1) unlawful discharge in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. ("FMLA"); and (2) a claim for unpaid wages, based on Electrolux's failure to pay her the backpay awarded by the arbitrator, under the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Law, Iowa Code ch. 91A, et seq. ("IWPCL"). (Doc. No. 2). On August 27, 2004, Electrolux filed a Motion to Dismiss Count II, alleging that the backpay sought by Cook was not "wages" under the IWPCL, and alternatively that the IWPCL claim was preempted by the federal Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, et seq. (Doc. No. 6). Cook filed a Resistance to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count II and Request for Oral Argument on September 10, 2004. (Doc. No. 10). On September 16, 2004, Cook filed an uncontested Motion to Convert Defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss to a Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 12). In this motion, Cook asserted that the underlying facts were not contested, that the motion could more properly be decided under summary judgment standards, and that Electrolux did not contest conversion. On September 16, 2004, Magistrate Judge Paul A. Zoss granted Cook's motion to convert Electrolux's motion to one for partial summary judgment and ordered the parties to file a joint appendix. (Doc. No. 13). On October 1, 2004, the parties filed a Joint Appendix as directed. (Doc. No. 14).

Telephonic oral arguments on the motion for partial summary judgment were held on November 19, 2004. At oral argument, Cook was represented by Blake Parker of the Blake Parker Law Office in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Electrolux was represented by Keith L. Pryatel of Kastner, Westman & Wilkins in Akron, Ohio. At oral argument, Electrolux indicated that in light of the court's recent decision in Electrolux Home Products, Inc. v. The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, et al., C04-3005-MWB, Memorandum Opinion and Order Regarding Cross-Motions For Summary Judgment ("November 17, 2004, Order"), it would request additional time to brief and submit the issue of whether principles of res judicata barred the plaintiffs claims in this case. At that time the court indicated that while it would not entertain further oral argument, it would allow Electrolux the opportunity to brief the issue of res judicata and instituted an abbreviated briefing schedule on the matter.

On December 2, 2004, Electrolux filed a Motion for Summary Judgment Based Upon Res Judicata which asserted that res judicata precluded Cook's claims. (Doc. No. 20). On December 18, 2004, Cook filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in which she claimed entitlement to partial summary judgment on her FMLA claim due to the issue preclusive effect of

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this court's November 17, 2004, Order, upholding the arbitrator's decision. In support of her motion, and in resistance to Electrolux's motion for summary judgment, Cook filed a combined Brief in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and in Support of Plaintiff's Resistance to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Plf.'s Combined Brief"). (Doc. No. 22). On December 20, 2004, Cook filed her Resistance to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment Based Upon Res Judicata, and attached the aforementioned combined brief in support. (Doc. No. 23). On December 27, 2004, Electrolux filed its Reply Memorandum in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment Based Upon Res Judicata and Resistance to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment ("Deft.'s Combined Brief"). (Doc. No. 24). On December 30, 2004, Cook filed her Reply to the Defendant's Resistance to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 25). A bench trial in this case is currently set for December 19, 2005. The matter is now fully submitted and ready for a determination by this court.

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS
A. Standards For Summary Judgment

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that either the claimant or the defending party may move for summary judgment in its favor on all or any part of a claim. See FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) & (b). "The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A case in which the issues involved are primarily questions of law, which the parties contend is the case here, "is particularly appropriate for summary judgment." TeamBank, N.A. v. McClure, 279 F.3d 614, 617 (8th Cir.2002) (citing Adams v. Boy Scouts of America-Chickasaw Council, 271 F.3d 769, 775 (8th Cir.2001)); Bank of Am. Nat'l Trust & Sav. Ass'n v. Shirley, 96 F.3d 1108, 1111 (8th Cir.1996) ("Where the unresolved issues are primarily legal rather than factual, summary judgment is particularly appropriate."); Aucutt v. Six Flags Over Mid-America, Inc., 85 F.3d 1311, 1315 (8th Cir.1996) (same). In this instance, both parties contend that they are entitled to summary judgment in their favor in light of this court's November 17, 2004, Order in Electrolux Home Products, Inc. v. The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, et al., C04-3005-MWB, ("Electrolux I") therefore the court will first discuss the details behind the issuance of the order prior to consideration of the parties' arguments under the previously delineated summary judgment standards.

B. The November 17, 2004, Order

In Electrolux v. The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, et al., 343 F.Supp.2d 747 (N.D.Iowa 2004) ("Electrolux I"), by virtue of her position with Electrolux, Deborah Cook was a member of The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America and the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local No. 442...

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4 practice notes
  • Ortega v. San Juan Coal Co., Civ. No. 12-CV-0501 MV/RHS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • October 3, 2013
    ...declining to give preclusive effect in cases involving FMLA claims") (citations omitted); Cook v. Electrolux Home Prods., Inc., 353 F. Supp. 2d 1002 (N.D. Iowa 2005) (holding that res judicata did not bar the plaintiff's FMLA claim in a judicial forum because Gardner-Denver applies); Schtab......
  • Guerrero v. J.W. Hutton, Inc., No. 4:04 CV 40005.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • May 31, 2005
    ...Payment Collection Law is designed to facilitate the collection of wages owed to employees." Cook v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc., 353 F.Supp.2d 1002, 1023 (N.D.Iowa 2005) (quoting Jeanes v. Allied Life Ins. Co., 300 F.3d 938, 943-44 (8th Cir.2002)) (quotations omitted). "A bonus meets th......
  • Fulmer v. Fifth Third Equip. Fin. Co. (In re Veg Liquidation, Inc.), No. 5:13–bk–73597 Jointly Administered
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eighth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Arkansas
    • May 2, 2017
    ...the trustee refers is this Court's order, the federal law concerning res judicata applies. Cook v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc. , 353 F.Supp.2d 1002, 1009 (N.D. Iowa 2005) (first forum's judgment is governed by first forum's law). In making a determination whether res judicata prevents th......
  • In re Kikut, No. 5:09-bk-71717
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eighth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Arkansas
    • April 9, 2018
    ...which the Court denied on December 11, 2017. The federal law concerning res judicata applies. Cook v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc., 353 F. Supp. 2d 1002, 1009 (N.D. Iowa 2005) (first forum's judgment is governed by first forum's law). In making a determination whether res judicata prevent......
4 cases
  • Ortega v. San Juan Coal Co., Civ. No. 12-CV-0501 MV/RHS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • October 3, 2013
    ...declining to give preclusive effect in cases involving FMLA claims") (citations omitted); Cook v. Electrolux Home Prods., Inc., 353 F. Supp. 2d 1002 (N.D. Iowa 2005) (holding that res judicata did not bar the plaintiff's FMLA claim in a judicial forum because Gardner-Denver applies); Schtab......
  • Guerrero v. J.W. Hutton, Inc., No. 4:04 CV 40005.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • May 31, 2005
    ...Payment Collection Law is designed to facilitate the collection of wages owed to employees." Cook v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc., 353 F.Supp.2d 1002, 1023 (N.D.Iowa 2005) (quoting Jeanes v. Allied Life Ins. Co., 300 F.3d 938, 943-44 (8th Cir.2002)) (quotations omitted). "A bonus meets th......
  • Fulmer v. Fifth Third Equip. Fin. Co. (In re Veg Liquidation, Inc.), No. 5:13–bk–73597 Jointly Administered
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eighth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Arkansas
    • May 2, 2017
    ...the trustee refers is this Court's order, the federal law concerning res judicata applies. Cook v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc. , 353 F.Supp.2d 1002, 1009 (N.D. Iowa 2005) (first forum's judgment is governed by first forum's law). In making a determination whether res judicata prevents th......
  • In re Kikut, No. 5:09-bk-71717
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eighth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Arkansas
    • April 9, 2018
    ...which the Court denied on December 11, 2017. The federal law concerning res judicata applies. Cook v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc., 353 F. Supp. 2d 1002, 1009 (N.D. Iowa 2005) (first forum's judgment is governed by first forum's law). In making a determination whether res judicata prevent......

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