Funderwhite v. Local 55, United Association, 072417 FED6, 16-3959

Docket Nº:16-3959
Opinion Judge:CLAY, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:DAVID FUNDERWHITE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. LOCAL 55, UNITED ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:BEFORE: GUY, CLAY, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 24, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

DAVID FUNDERWHITE, Plaintiff-Appellant,


LOCAL 55, UNITED ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 16-3959

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 24, 2017



BEFORE: GUY, CLAY, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.

CLAY, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff David Funderwhite sought a declaratory judgment pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-2202, against Defendants Local 55, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, et al. ("Local 55"), in connection with his termination from Local 55's apprenticeship program. Additionally, Funderwhite alleged state law breach of contract claims against Local 55. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the district court's judgment.


I. Factual background

Funderwhite began his journeyman plumber apprenticeship with Local 55 on September 8, 2009. As a condition of enrollment, Funderwhite entered into an apprenticeship agreement (the "Apprenticeship Agreement") whereby he agreed to abide by Local 55's written standards and policies. Under the terms of the Apprenticeship Agreement, an apprentice who accumulates a total of thirty disciplinary points or more during the course of his apprenticeship is subject to discharge from the program. Local 55's apprenticeship program is registered with the United States Department of Labor under the National Apprenticeship Act ("NAA"), 29 U.S.C. § 50, as a program approved by a state apprenticeship agency. The state agency responsible for overseeing the apprenticeship program is the Ohio State Apprenticeship Council ("OSAC").

On March 26, 2012, Funderwhite incurred twenty disciplinary points for falsification of information and failure to follow instructions. An additional three points were levied against him for failing his third-year drawing course. On March 13, 2014, Funderwhite accrued an additional disciplinary point for neglecting to make up lost class time. Finally, on June 11, 2014, Funderwhite incurred three additional disciplinary points for failing his fifth-year plumbing design and layout class. This brought his accumulated disciplinary point total to thirty-two.1 As a consequence, Local 55 expelled Funderwhite from the apprenticeship program on June 13, 2014.

Funderwhite appealed his expulsion to Local 55's Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. To this end, he appeared personally before the committee on August 6, 2014 to challenge the individual assessment of his disciplinary points. Specifically, Funderwhite contended that Local 55 either did not have sufficient grounds for assessing the points or that the assessment of points was not applied uniformly. Funderwhite received a letter dated August 11, 2014, informing him that the committee denied his appeal. Funderwhite appealed to OSAC. Pursuant to their independent investigation, OSAC affirmed Local 55's assessment of disciplinary points against Funderwhite and his discharge. During OSAC's review of Funderwhite's appeal, the agency cited one area of concern with respect to Local 55's record-keeping. OSAC recommended that Local 55 review and revamp its polices to ensure appropriate documentation.

II. Procedural History

On March 10, 2016, Funderwhite filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. His complaint alleged three separate avenues of relief. In Count One, Funderwhite sought declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 and § 2202. Specifically, Funderwhite asserted that insufficient grounds existed for his expulsion; accordingly, Local 55's failure to preserve adequate records violated the federal policy underlying the NAA. Counts Two and Three alleged state law breach of contract claims relating to the Apprenticeship Agreement. Local 55 filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, contending that Funderwhite's complaint failed to raise a federal question. The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint on July 20, 2016, declining to take supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. On August 19, 2016, Funderwhite filed timely notice of appeal.


I. Standard of Review

Generally, this Court reviews de novo the district court's decision to dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). Cartwright v. Garner, 751 F.3d 752, 760 (6th Cir. 2014). A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction involves either a facial attack or a factual attack. Glob. Tech., Inc. v. Yubei (XinXiang) Power Steering Sys. Co.,

Ltd., 807 F.3d 806, 810 (6th Cir. 2015)...

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