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Service Employees International Union, Local 1107 v. Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 5, 2017

SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 1107, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHEASTERN NEVADA REGIONAL HOSPITAL, Defendant.

          ORDER

         Before the court is defendant Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital's ("NNRH") motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) (6) (ECF No. 6) . Plaintiff Service Employees International Union, Local 1107 ("Local 1107") responded (ECF No. 8) and NNRH replied (ECF No. 10).

         I. Background

         Local 1107 and NNRH entered into a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") on February 6, 2013, in which the parties agreed to resolve grievances pursuant to the grievance procedures listed in the CBA. On October 28, 2015, Local 1107 filed a grievance alleging that NNRH terminated Karla Dittrich without just cause.

         The grievance was processed through the grievance procedure and NNRH denied the grievance on January 18, 2016. The following day, on January 19, 2016, Local 1107 demanded arbitration as required under Step 4 of the grievance procedure. On January 26, 2016, a Local 1107 representative began preparing a request to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service ("FMCS") for the panel of arbitrators, but was unable to complete the request that day due to difficulty with the payment processing. The request for the panel of arbitrators was submitted on January 27, 2016. NNRH subsequently refused to arbitrate the Dittrich grievance because the request to the FMCS was not processed timely.

         On June 13, 2016, Local 1107 filed a complaint in the Fourth Judicial District Court, Elko County, Nevada, for declaratory relief and an order compelling arbitration of the Dittrich dispute. The complaint requests that the court enter a declaratory judgment that Local 1107 met the time limit requirement in the CBA when it "presented" or "appealed" the grievance in notifying NNRH of its intent to proceed to arbitration and that its FMCS request is not "presenting" or "appealing" a grievance. Alternatively, the complaint requests the court enter a declaratory judgement that Local 1107 substantially complied with the time requirements when it attempted to submit its FMCS request on January 26, 2016. The case was removed on August 10, 2016, pursuant to federal question jurisdiction.

         II. Standard

         In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) (6), the court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint as well as all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from such allegations. LSO, Ltd. v. Stroh, 205 F.3d 1146, 1150 (9th Cir. 2000). The allegations of the complaint also must be construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Shwarz v. United States, 234 F.3d 428, 435 (9th Cir. 2000) . The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b) (6) is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001) . The court can grant the motion only if it is certain that the plaintiff will not be entitled to relief under any set of facts that could be proven under the allegations of the complaint. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 338 (9th Cir. 1996) .

         " [A] court may consider evidence on which a complaint necessarily relies if: (1) the complaint refers to the document; (2) the document is central to the plaintiff's claim; and (3) no party questions the authenticity of the copy attached to the . . . motion." Daniels-Hall v. Nat'1 Educ. Ass'n., 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010).

         III. Argument

         NNRH does not dispute that the Dittrich termination grievance arises under the terms of the CBA. Rather, NNRH argues that Local 1107 does not have the right to arbitrate the grievance because the union failed to process the grievance within the requisite time limits established in the CBA. NNRH recognizes that procedural issues are presumptively for the arbitrator to decide. It argues, however, that Article 11.8 removes the question from the arbitration panel's jurisdiction. Article 11.8 provides:

Any grievance not presented or appealed within the time limits and in the manner provided in Section 2 hereof shall be deemed to have been settled or abandoned, is expressly excluded from arbitration, and shall not be presented to any arbitrator.

         NNRH contends that on the basis of this provision the court is required to consider the timeliness of the Local 1107's request arbitration. NNRH argues that Local 1107 failed to comply with the time limits set forth in Step 4 of the grievance procedure. Step 4 addresses the procedure for advancing a grievance to arbitration:

If the grievance is not resolved at Step 3, the grievance may be referred to arbitration upon written request by the Union, which request must be made in writing to the Employer within fourteen (14) calendar days after receipt of the Employer's Step 3 answer. In the event arbitration is requested, the Union will, within seven (7) calendar days after notice to the Hospital, submit to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) a completed form R-43 with a copy to the Employer, ...

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