United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss filed by
Defendant United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 655
(“the Union”) [ECF No. 11]. Minor Robinson
(“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion and requests
leave to amend the complaint [ECF No. 24].
who is African American, was a grocery store clerk for
Defendant Schnuck Markets, Inc. [“Employer”] from
November 1996 until March 28, 2016. Pl.'s compl.
¶¶ 6-8 [ECF No. 5]. After the Union arbitrated
Plaintiff's challenge to his termination and an adverse
arbitration award was entered, Plaintiff filed this two-count
lawsuit against Defendants. See id. ¶ 30. In
each count, Plaintiff requests an award of “actual and
compensatory damages, ” punitive damages, a reasonable
attorney's fee, and reinstatement with back pay and
benefits or, alternatively, an award of front pay.
Count I, Plaintiff alleges Employer is liable under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981 for its alleged race discrimination in
discharging him. In Count II, Plaintiff alleges both
Defendants are liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2) for
conspiring to “imped[e], hinder, obstruct, or
defeat, the due course of justice in the State of Missouri
(the state in which the arbitration occurred) with the intent
to deny Plaintiff” equal protection. Pl.'s compl.
¶ 36 [ECF No. 5].
respect to the claim in Count II, Plaintiff alleges that he
had asked a “fellow employee, ” identified as
“Rose, ” to “attend the arbitration and
testify for him, ” because she “would have
provided material evidence in support of Plaintiff's
claim that he was fired without cause.” Id.
¶¶ 31 and 33. “[A]t the behest of the”
Employer, Plaintiff's “Union representative and
union attorney” allegedly asked Plaintiff to request
Rose to leave. Id. ¶¶ 32 and 35.
“Plaintiff did what his lawyer and union representative
requested and asked Rose to leave.” Id. ¶
32. As a result of Rose's departure, Plaintiff alleges he
“did not have any witnesses other than himself to
support his position.” Id. ¶ 32.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Union moves to
dismiss the Section 1985(2) claim for failure to state a
claim on which relief can be granted. In particular, the
Union argues Plaintiff's claim appears to fall within the
second clause of Section 1985(2), the clause which prohibits
interference with the administration of justice in state
courts and does not mention arbitrations. Plaintiff
counters that: (1) the arbitration was conducted pursuant to
a collective bargaining agreement, (2) Section 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29
U.S.C. § 185, governs and completely preempts “any
lawsuit that requires interpretation of a collective
bargaining agreement to reach a decision,
” (3) “it has long been held that
arbitration of claims under a collective bargaining agreement
is an acceptable substitute for a federal court['s]
involvement, ” and (4) “[t]herefore, interference
with an arbitration conducted pursuant to a collective
bargaining agreement is interference with the federal
courts.”See Pl.'s opp'n Def.
Union's mot. dismiss at 2 [ECF No. 24].
further asserts that, based on his “analysis it appears
that this case arises under the first prong of section
1985(2) [proscribing] conspiracies to interfere with the
administration of justice in the federal courts.”
Id. Because “the facts . . . support a
different legal theory, ” Plaintiff urges dismissal due
to an incorrect legal theory is not warranted and seeks leave
to file an amended complaint alleging interference
“with the federal courts.” Id. In its
reply, the Union (1) opposes Plaintiff's argument that he
can state a claim for relief under either clause of Section
1985(2), and (2) opposes Plaintiff's request to file an
amended complaint because the proposed amendment would be
futile. Specifically, the Union contends “even under
the first portion of Section 1985(2), . . . the plaintiff
still cannot make out an actionable claim due to the fact
that there was no federal court action involving the
underlying private arbitration.” Def. Union's reply
at 6 [ECF No. 26].
Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). When a defendant moves
to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, a court must regard as true the
facts alleged in the complaint and determine whether they are
sufficient to raise more than a speculative right to relief.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
(2007); accord Stanley v. Finnegan, 899 F.3d 623,
635 (8th Cir. 2018) (under Rule 12(b)(6), a court
accepts as true the factual allegations in the complaint and
views them “most favorably to the” plaintiff).
The court does not, however, accept as true any allegation
that is a legal conclusion. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009); accord Kulkay v. Roy, 847 F.3d
637, 641 (8th Cir. 2017) (a court does “not
. . . presume the truth of legal conclusions couched as
pleading must set forth “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; accord Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678; Park Irmat Drug Corp. v. Express Scripts
Holding Co., 911 F.3d 505, 512 (8th Cir.
2018) “Although a plaintiff need not allege facts in
painstaking detail, the facts alleged ‘must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.” Kulkay,
847 F.3d at 642. “[T]he complaint should be read as a
whole, not parsed piece by piece to determine whether each
allegation, in isolation, is plausible.” Braden v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir.
plausibility standard requires a [pleader] to show at the
pleading stage that success on the merits is more than a
‘sheer possibility.'” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
More specifically, for a civil rights complaint, a plaintiff
“must assert facts that affirmatively and plausibly
suggest that the pleader has the right he claims . . .,
rather than facts that are merely consistent with such a
right.” Gregory v. Dillard's, Inc., 565
F.3d 464, 473 (8th Cir. 2009) (en banc) (quotation
marks and citations omitted). “[T]he complaint must
include sufficient factual allegations to provide the grounds
on which the [civil rights] claim rests.” Id.
If a claim is only conceivable, not plausible, the court must
dismiss the pleading under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570; accord Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.