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Ogle v. Ohio Civil Service Employees Association

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

July 17, 2019


          Vascura Magistrate Judge



         This matter is before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (the “Motion”) (Doc. 12). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Nathaniel Ogle has been employed by the Ohio Department of Taxation since 2011. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 13). Since the beginning of his employment, Ogle has been subject to the exclusive representation of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, AFSCME, Local 11 (“OCSEA”) and the terms of the collective bargaining agreements OCSEA enters into with the State of Ohio. (Id. at ¶ 6). Ogle is not, and never has been, a member of the OCSEA. (Id. at ¶ 7). Ohio's Public Employees' Collective Bargaining Act (the “Act”), Ohio Revised Code § 4117, authorizes exclusive representatives and public employers to enter into agency fee provisions that require, as a condition of employment, “that the employees in the unit who are not members of the employee organization pay to the employee organization a fair share fee.” Ohio Rev. Code § 4117.09(C). (Id. at ¶ 8). The Act further provides that “[t]he deduction of a fair share fee by the public employer from the payroll check of the employee and its payment to the employee organization is automatic and does not require the written authorization of the employee.” Id. OCSEA's collective bargaining agreements with the State of Ohio for the term of July 1, 2015 to February 28, 2018, which governs Ogle's employment, contains a compulsory fee clause that dictates:

Any bargaining unit employee who has served an initial sixty (60) days and who has not submitted a voluntary membership dues deduction authorization form to the Employer shall, tender to the Union a representation service fee beginning in the pay period that includes the 61st day. The amount shall not exceed the dues paid by similarly situated members of the employee organization who are in the bargaining unit. The Union shall continue to provide an internal rebate procedure which provides for a rebate of expenditures in support of partisan politics or ideological causes not germane to the work of employee organizations in the realm of collective bargaining. When an employee enters the bargaining unit for any reason, the Employer shall notify the employee of this Article and provide the employee the appropriate deduction forms. Fair share fee deductions shall begin after sixty (60) days of service. The Employer shall tender to the Union a representation service fee beginning in the pay period that includes the 61st day.

(Id. at ¶ 9). Ogle was compelled to pay fair share fees to OCSEA pursuant this clause, which were automatically deducted from his paycheck. (Id. at ¶ 10). OCSEA's collective bargaining agreements with other public employers in Ohio also contain forced fee clauses that compel nonmembers of the union to pay fees to the union as a condition of their employment. (Id. at ¶ 11). On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court held forced fee requirements to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment and that unions could not constitutionally collect union dues or fees from public employees without their affirmative consent. (Id. at ¶ 12); Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S.Ct. 2448, 2486 (2018).

         Following Janus, OSCEA ceased the collection of mandatory fair share fees and has indicated that it has no intention to re-instate the collection of such fees in the future. (Doc. 12-2, Ex. 1, Letter to David Blair at 1); (Doc. 12-2, Decl. of Christopher Mabe at 3).


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides for dismissal when the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Without subject matter jurisdiction, a federal court lacks authority to hear a case. Thornton v. Sw. Detroit Hosp., 895 F.2d 1131, 1133 (6th Cir. 1990). Motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction fall into two general categories: facial attacks and factual attacks. United States v. Ritchie, 15 F.3d 592, 598 (6th Cir. 1994). A facial attack under Rule 12(b)(1) “questions merely the sufficiency of the pleading, ” and the trial court therefore takes the allegations of the complaint as true. Wayside Church v. Van Buren Cty., 847 F.3d 812, 816 (6th Cir. 2017) (quoting Ohio Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. United States, 922 F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir. 1990)). To survive a facial attack, the complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the grounds for jurisdiction. Rote v. Zel Custom Mfg. LLC, 816 F.3d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 2016).

         A factual attack is a challenge to the factual existence of subject matter jurisdiction. No. presumptive truthfulness applies to the factual allegations. Glob. Tech., Inc. v. Yubei (XinXiang) Power Steering Sys. Co., 807 F.3d 806, 810 (6th Cir. 2015). When examining a factual attack under Rule 12(b)(1), “the court can actually weigh evidence to confirm the existence of the factual predicates for subject-matter jurisdiction.” Glob. Tech., Inc. v. Yubei (XinXiang) Power Steering Sys. Co., 807 F.3d 806, 810 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Carrier Corp. v. Outokumpu Oyj, 673 F.3d 430, 440 (6th Cir. 2012)). The plaintiff has the burden of establishing jurisdiction in order to survive the motion to dismiss. DLX, Inc. v. Kentucky, 381 F.3d 511, 516 (6th Cir. 2004); Moir v. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Auth., 895 F.2d 266, 269 (6th Cir. 1990).

         Defendant also brings their motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, alleging that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Under the Federal Rules, any pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim” showing that the pleader is entitled to such relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To meet this standard, a party must allege sufficient facts to state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A claim will be considered “plausible on its face” when a plaintiff sets forth “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Rule 12(b)(6) allows parties to challenge the sufficiency of a complaint under the foregoing standards. In considering whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund v. Standard & Poor's Fin. Servs. LLC, 700 F.3d 829, 835 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007)). However, “the tenet that a court must accept a complaint's allegations as true is inapplicable to threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. Thus, while a court is to afford plaintiff every inference, the pleading must still contain facts sufficient to “provide a plausible basis for the claims in the complaint”; a recitation of facts intimating the “mere possibility of misconduct” will not suffice. Flex Homes, Inc. v. Ritz-Craft Corp of Mich., Inc., 491 Fed.Appx. 628, 632 (6th Cir. 2012); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.


         In the Complaint, Ogle prays for prospective relief in the form of an injunction preventing OCSEA from collecting mandatory fair share fees and a declaration that the Act is unconstitutional. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 26(b)-(d)). Ogle also prays for retroactive damages in the form of a refund of the fees collected by OCSEA before Janus was decided. (Id. at ¶ 26(e)). Ogle additionally prays for nominal damages. (Id. at ¶ 26(f))

         In the Motion, OCSEA challenges Ogle's subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of standing with regards to the requests for prospective relief. (Doc. 12, Def.'s Mot. at 5). OCSEA challenges Ogle's claims for damages pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Id. at 10). This Court will address each of these arguments in turn.

         A. Plaintiff Lacks Standing to Seek Prospective Relief

         OCSEA argues that Ogle lacks standing for prospective relief because OCSEA no longer collects mandatory fair share fees and therefore it is not likely that OCSEA will harm him in the future. Ogle counters that, because the Act is still in effect, he has standing. This Court agrees with OCSEA.

         The jurisdiction of the federal courts is limited. Article III § 2 of the United States Constitution grants the federal courts jurisdiction only over specified “cases” or “controversies.” Absent a live “case or controversy, ” a federal court has no subject matter jurisdiction and the case must be dismissed. This “case or controversy” requirement gives rise to the concept of standing. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559-60 (1992).

         In order to establish constitutional standing, a plaintiff must demonstrate the following: (a) that it has suffered an “injury in fact, ” a harm that is “concrete and particularized” and “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical;” (b) a causal connection between the injury and the challenged conduct; and (c) that a favorable court decision is likely to redress or remedy the injury. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61; Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 102-103, 118 S.Ct. 1003, 140 L.Ed.2d 210 (1998). ‚ÄúThis triad of injury in fact, causation, and redressability constitutes the core of ...

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