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Tecnocap, LLC v. Graphic Communications Conference International Brotherhood of Teamsters

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

March 27, 2018

TECNOCAP, LLC, Plaintiff,


          Benita Y. Pearson United States District Judge.

         Pending are cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Tecnocap, LLC (“Employer”) (ECF No. 12) and Defendant Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 24M (“Union”) (ECF No. 14) regarding the enforceability of an arbitration award. The Court has been advised, having reviewed the record, parties' briefs and applicable law.[1] For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Employer's motion to vacate the arbitrator's award, and denies Union's motion to enforce the award and for attorneys' fees.

         I. Background

         Employer is a corporation with facilities in Warren, Ohio. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 1. Randy Witherow (“Witherow”) is an employee of Employer at its Warren facility. ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 200. Witherow is a member of Union. ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 200. Employer and Union are parties to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), which includes an “Attendance and Tardiness Control Program.” ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 200. This program is a no fault, point based, absenteeism policy, which calls for the dismissal of an employee who earns 12 points under the Attendance Program. ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 200.

         Records show that Witherow has a long history of attendance related issues. ECF Nos. 12-11; 12-12; 12-13; 12-14; 12-15. On September 29, 2015, Witherow was terminated from employment after he reached 13 points pursuant to the Attendance Program. ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 200. Union then filed a grievance over Witherow's termination on October 2, 2015. ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 200. As a result, Union, Employer, and Witherow negotiated and agreed to a Last Chance Agreement (“LCA”) on October 8, 2015 as resolution to the grievance. ECF No. 12-5. Under the LCA, Witherow was placed on an eight-month probationary period, during which time he could not miss work without prior approval. ECF No. 12-5 at PageID #: 260.

         On March 10, 2016, Witherow was again terminated by Employer after he violated the LCA due to an unapproved absence. ECF No. 12-6. On March 15, 2016, Union filed another grievance on behalf of Wintherow alleging “unfair treatment.” ECF No. 12-7 at PageID #: 263. The parties were unable to resolve the March 15th grievance. As a result, an arbitration was held on July 14, 2016 before Arbitrator John M. Felice (“Arbitrator”). ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 201.

         On September 15, 2016, the Arbitrator issued a decision in favor of Union and Witherow, ordering Witherow's return to employment with back pay. ECF No. 12-22. Employer then filed a motion for reconsideration on September 26, 2016. ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 205. Arbitrator denied Employer's motion on October 14, 2016. ECF No. 12-1 at PageID #: 205.

         On December 5, 2016, Employer initiated the instant lawsuit by filing a Complaint and Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award (ECF No. 1). Union then filed an Answer (ECF No. 7) seeking to affirm the arbitration award. Subsequently, both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 12; 14.

         II. Standards of Review

         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriately granted when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Johnson v. Karnes, 398 F.3d 868, 873 (6th Cir. 2005). The moving party is not required to file affidavits or other similar materials negating a claim on which its opponent bears the burden of proof, so long as the movant relies upon the absence of the essential element in the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party must “show that the non-moving party has failed to establish an essential element of his case upon which he would bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial.” Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trustees., 980 F.2d 399, 403 (6th Cir. 1992).

         Once the movant makes a properly supported motion, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate the existence of genuine dispute. An opposing party may not simply rely on its pleadings. Rather, it must “produce evidence that results in a conflict of material fact to be resolved by a jury.” Cox v. Ky. Dep't. of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 150 (6th Cir. 1995). The non-moving party must, to defeat the motion, “show that there is doubt as to the material facts and that the record, taken as a whole, does not lead to a judgment for the movant.” Guarino, 980 F.2d at 403. In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party when deciding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970).

         The United States Supreme Court, in deciding Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986), stated that in order for a motion for summary judgment to be granted, there must be no genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 248. The existence of some mere factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). A fact is “material” only if its resolution will affect the outcome of the lawsuit. In determining whether a factual issue is “genuine, ” the court must decide whether the evidence is such that reasonable jurors could find that the non-moving party is entitled to a verdict. Id. Summary judgment “will not lie . . . if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. To withstand summary judgment, the non-movant must show sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact. Klepper v. First Am. Bank, 916 F.2d 337, 342 (6th Cir. 1990). The existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position ordinarily will not be sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. This standard of review does not differ when reviewing cross-motions for summary judgment versus a motion filed by only one party. U.S. SEC v. Sierra Brokerage Servs., Inc., 712 F.3d 321, 327 (6th Cir. 2013).

         B. Review of an ...

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