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Jackson v. United States Postal Service

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 25, 2019

DELBERT JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Postmaster General Megan Brennan's Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 37) The motion is fully briefed. After careful consideration, the Court grants Brennan's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Delbert Jackson began his employment with the United States Postal Service ("USPS") in October 1994 as a casual clerk. (Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 31, ¶ 12) In October 2001, he was transferred within USPS and began to work as a letter carrier. (Id. at ¶ 13) While serving as a letter carrier, Plaintiff was represented by the exclusive bargaining unit for letter carriers, the National Association of Letter Carriers ("NALC"), and paid dues to his local chapter, Local 314. (Id. at ¶¶ 14-15) Plaintiff was again transferred within USPS in December 2001 and began service as a mail handler, a position in which he continues to serve as of the initiation of this lawsuit. (Id. at ¶ 16)

         When Plaintiff transferred from letter carrier to mail handler, a representative of NALC allegedly informed him that "the otherwise compelled membership fees for union dues would no longer be withheld from his wages because NALC could not represent his interests as he switched positions and no longer served as a letter carrier." (Id. at ¶ 17) Plaintiff then contacted a human resources ("HR") representative at USPS who told him that, due to his change in position within USPS, his interests would be represented the exclusive bargaining unit for the mail handlers work group: the National Postal Mail Handlers Union ("NPMHU"). (Id. at ¶¶ 18-19) According to Plaintiff, the HR representative told him that his membership dues would be remitted to NPMHU from that point forward while he worked as a mail handler. (Id. at ¶ 20) Plaintiff claims he continued to authorize USPS to withhold membership fees for union dues from his wages to be remitted to NPMHU on his behalf for the next 16 years. (Id. at ¶ 21)

         In early 2017, Plaintiff contacted NPMHU concerning a matter related to his employment. (Id. at ¶ 22) NPMHU, however, told Plaintiff it was unable to assist him as he was not a dues-paying member of the labor union. (Id. at ¶ 23) Plaintiff contacted an HR representative at USPS[1] who confirmed that his membership dues had continued to be withheld from his wages and remitted to NALC. (Id. at ¶ 25) Plaintiff asserts he intended to cancel his membership - and related authorization to withhold union membership fees - with NALC in order to join NPMHU when he previously spoke to an HR representative once his job position changed. (Id. at ¶ 24) The HR representative at USPS instructed Plaintiff to contact NALC about representing him in his employment-related matter. (Id. at ¶¶ 26-27) NALC, however, informed Plaintiff that it could not represent him because he was no longer a letter carrier. (Id. at ¶ 27) Plaintiff thereafter requested a refund of the withholdings that had been remitted to NALC, but his request was denied. (Id. at ¶¶ 28-29) He further states he has since informed NPMHU that he no longer wishes to be a member. (Id. at ¶ 34)

         In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names Brennan (individually and in her official position as postmaster general), NALC, and the NPMHU as defendants (referred to collectively as "Defendants").[2] He alleges USPS continued to unlawfully withhold membership fees from his wages and remit such funds as union dues to NALC despite his specific request to change his union membership to NPMHU and despite all Defendants knowing his employment had changed such that NALC no longer could represent his interests. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-37) Plaintiff argues he is entitled to full reimbursement of the membership fees for union dues that were unlawfully withheld by USPS and provided to NALC and NPMHU, along with interest. (Id. at ¶ 38) Specifically, Count I asserts a claim of unjust enrichment against NALC and NPMHU (Id. at ¶¶ 39-43); Count II asserts a claim of money had and received against NALC and NPMHU (Id. at ¶¶ 44-48); Count III asserts a claim against all Defendants for violations of his constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Sections 8 and 9 of the Missouri Constitution (Id. at ¶¶ 49-54); and Count IV seeks a permanent injunction and declaratory relief against all Defendants (Id. at 10-11).

         Brennan filed a Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 37), which is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         "Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. The requirement that jurisdiction be established as a threshold matter springs from the nature and limits of the judicial power of the United States and is inflexible and without exception." Godfrey v. Pulitzer Pub. Co., 161 F.3d 1137, 1141 (8th Cir. 1998) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). To dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), "the complaint must be successfully challenged on its face or on the factual truthfulness of its averments." Swiish v. Nixon, No. 4.14-CV-2089 CAS, 2015 WL 867650, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 27, 2015) (quoting Titus v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 590, 593 (8th Cir. 1993)). "The standard for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) applies equally to a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction which asserts a facial challenge under Rule 12(b)(1)." Id. Accordingly, a court assessing a facial challenge under Rule 12(b)(1) assumes all facts in the complaint to be true and construes all reasonable inferences most favorably to the complainant as it would in a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Branson Label, Inc. v. City of Branson, Mo., 793 F.3d 910, 914 (8th Cir. 2015); U.S. ex rel. Raynor v. Nat'l Rural Utilities Co-op. Fin., Corp., 690 F.3d 951, 955 (8th Cir. 2012); Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008).

         DISCUSSION

         Brennan argues Plaintiffs claims against her in her individual and official capacity should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). She further asserts that, because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not provide Plaintiff with colorable federal claims against her in her individual or official capacity, he cannot seek a permanent injunction or declaratory relief.

         I. Claims against Brennan in her individual capacity

         (a) Liability for federal ...


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