Dobrski v. Ford Motor Co., Case No. 09-CV-963.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
Citation698 F.Supp.2d 966
Docket NumberCase No. 09-CV-963.
PartiesVincent DOBRSKI, Plaintiff,v.FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.
Decision Date16 March 2010





Jason B. Mizak, Cleveland, OH, for Plaintiff.

Janette M. Louard, Heidi Duncan Alten, Littler Mendelson, Cleveland, OH, for Defendant.



Before the Court is Defendant Ford Motor Company's (Ford) Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 5.) This Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons articulated below, Ford's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I BACKGROUNDA. Factual Background

The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true, as they must be in the context of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.

1. Dobrski's Employment with Ford Motor Company

From 1968 until 2007, Plaintiff Vincent Dobrski (Plaintiff or “Dobrski”) was employed by Ford Motor Company at its Stamping Plant in Walton Hills, Ohio. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 7-8.) Dobrski was an active member of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (“UAW”) and, at the time of his termination in 2007, was running for vice president of the UAW Local 420. ( Id. at 10.)

Dobrski alleges that, during the course of his employment with Ford, he was harassed “concerning his campaign leaflets and other material” relevant to his campaign for vice president. ( Id. at ¶ 11.) Dobrski says he also was subjected to harassment for “diligently follow[ing] company safety procedures, specifically the ‘lock out’ safety procedures.” ( Id. at ¶ 12.)

2. Dobrski's Discharge from Employment with Ford.

On or about March 21, 2007, Dobrski was terminated from his employment. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 13.) He claims his termination was “without good cause,” and that it violated the collective bargaining agreement (“the CBA”) governing his employment with Ford. ( Id. at ¶¶ 23, 52.) At the time of his discharge, Dobrski was fifty-six (56) years old. ( Id. at ¶ 9.) Dobrski says he was informed when terminated that he was under investigation, but was not told why. ( Id. at ¶ 13.)

Dobrski contends that Ford terminated him for three (3) improper reasons. First, Dobrski claims that he was terminated “because he ran for elected union office.” ( Id. at ¶ 42.) Second, he alleges that he was terminated because of his age. ( Id. at ¶¶ 9, 38.) Third, Dobrski claims that Ford terminated him because of his “concern for safety procedures at the Defendant's facility, and specifically the Defendant's ‘lock out’ procedures.” ( Id. at ¶ 43.)

Finally, Dobrski alleges that, although he filed a grievance regarding his termination, the UAW failed to fairly represent him pursuant to the terms of the CBA. ( Id. at ¶¶ 15-16.) Beyond this bare statement, however, there are no other allegations in the Complaint regarding the UAW or its participation in any grievance process on Dobrski's behalf.

3. The Collective Bargaining Agreement

It is undisputed that Dobrski's employment with Ford was subject to the CBA. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 16, 52-53.) Based on the parties' submissions, it appears there are two relevant bargaining agreements. The first, the CBA, is a master collective bargaining agreement between the UAW and Ford Motor Company which went into effect September 29, 2003. ( See Doc. 5-2 at 3.) 1 The second is the 2004 Local Agreement (“Local CBA”) between the UAW Local 420 and the Ford Walton Hills Stamping Plant, which was ratified on May 13, 2004. ( See id. at 53.)

1. Grievance Procedure

Pursuant to Article IV, Section 3 of the CBA, Ford:

retains the sole right to discipline and discharge employees for cause, provided that in the exercise of this right it will not act wrongfully or unjustly or in violation of the terms of this Agreement ... Complaints that the Company has violated this paragraph may be taken up through the Grievance Procedure provided in this Agreement.

(Doc. 5-2 at 9.) The CBA provides a multi-stage Grievance Procedure during which

the Union shall, in the redress of alleged violations by the Company of this Agreement or any local or other agreement supplementary hereto, be the exclusive representative of the interests of each employee ... covered by this Agreement, and only the Union shall have the right to assert and press against the Company any claim, proceeding or action asserting a violation of this Agreement.

( Id. at 22 (Article VII, § 1).) The CBA's detailed four-stage Grievance Procedure culminates in a final and binding appeal to an impartial umpire. 2 The CBA provides that [t]here shall be no appeal from an Umpire's decision. It shall be final and binding on the Union, its members, the employee or employees involved and the Company.” ( Id. at 29 (Article VII, § 19).)

2. Health and Safety Provisions

There are several provisions in the CBA and Local CBA relating to health and safety requirements. Specifically, the CBA provides that

The Company shall have the obligation to continue to make reasonable provisions for the safety and health of its employees during the hours of their employment. Local Management is responsible for implementing these provisions at each location with the objective of maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. The Union shall cooperate with the Company's efforts to carry out its obligations.

(Doc. 5-2 at 35 (Article X, § 4).) The CBA further sets forth a special procedure for health and safety grievances. (Doc. 5-2 at 29-32 (Article VII, § 23).)

Of particular relevance to the allegations in Dobrski's Complaint, the Local CBA contains a section specifically dealing with the “Power Lockout Procedure.” (Doc. 5-2 at 57.) The procedure requires, among other things, that [a]ny person who must work on powered equipment must cut off all sources of power and affix his safety locks in such a manner that power may not be turned on without removing the locks.” ( Id.)

3. “Equal Application of Agreement”

Article X, Section 9 of the CBA provides that its terms shall apply “to all employees covered by the Agreement without discrimination, and in carrying out their respective obligations under this Agreement neither [the Company nor the Union] will discriminate against any employee on account of ... age ... [or] union activity.” (Doc. 5-2 at 36.) This section further provides that the “grievance and arbitration procedure shall be the exclusive contractual procedure for remedying such discrimination claims.” ( Id. at 37.)

B. Procedural History and Jurisdiction

On April 27, 2009, Dobrski filed an eight (8) count complaint against Ford alleging the following claims for relief:

• Count I: Wrongful Termination;
• Count II: Hostile Workplace;
• Count IV: Denial of Due Process; 3
• Count V: Age Discrimination;

• Count VI: Retaliation;

• Count VII: Violation of the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing;
• Count VIII: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; and
• Count IX: Violation of § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.

(Doc. 1).

In his Complaint, Dobrski asserts that this Court has original jurisdiction over his due process claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 2.) Dobrski also asserts that the Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because: (1) he is an Ohio citizen; (2) Ford is a Delaware corporation; and (3) the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. ( Id. at ¶¶ 1, 3-5.)

It is well-established that, for diversity purposes, a corporation is deemed a citizen of any state in which it is incorporated and the state in which it has its principal place of business. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c). Although Dobrski's Complaint alleges that Ford is a Delaware corporation, it fails to allege where Ford's principal place of business is located. By Order dated February 16, 2010, the Court directed Ford to identify its principal place of business. (Doc. 12.) On February 22, 2010, Ford submitted a response indicating that its principal place of business is in Michigan. (Doc. 13.) Accordingly, the Court has both federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction over the claims in Dobrski's Complaint.4

On June 26, 2009, Ford filed the instant Motion to Dismiss alleging that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and therefore should be dismissed in its entirety. (Doc. 5.) Dobrski filed a brief in opposition (Doc. 7), and Ford submitted a reply in support (Doc. 8.). Dobrski then attempted to file a sur-reply in opposition to Ford's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 9), which Ford sought to strike on the basis that it was filed out of rule and attached two unauthenticated exhibits. (Doc. 10.) On September 17, 2009, the Court granted Ford's motion to strike Dobrski's sur-reply, indicating that, absent leave of Court, sur-replies are not authorized by the Court's local rules. Dobrski has not sought to amend his Complaint either in response to Ford's motion detailing deficiencies in the Complaint, or otherwise.


The Court may dismiss a claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The purpose of a motion under 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint-not to decide the merits of the case.

It is well-established that a complaint need not set forth in detail all of the particularities of the plaintiff's claim. See Myers v. Delaware Co., No. 2:07-cv-844, 2009 WL 3446752, *2, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98143, *6 (S.D.Ohio Oct. 22, 2009). Instead, Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Rule 8 does not, however, “unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct....

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