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Judges affirm dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the decision by a trial court to dismiss a company’s state law claims against a labor union, finding those claims are preempted by a decision of the National Labor Relations Board.

Engineered Steel Concepts, owned by Tom Anderson, negotiated with Steven Parks, a business agent for a union, to have union members drive trucks hauling a by-product of the steel-making process. Anderson had two agreement options: a Section 8(f) general construction agreement, applicable to employers who are primarily in the building and construction industry; and Section 9(a), a commodity hauling agreement. Anderson signed the Section 8(f) agreement under the belief that this was the best agreement since the work would be temporary.

After the by-product hauling project ended, the company told the union employees that no other work was available. The union filed a charge against ESC with the National Labor Relations Board claiming the employees were unjustly terminated. An administrative law judge found that the company couldn’t have entered into a Section 8(f) agreement and treated the agreement instead like the Section 9(a) agreement. Under Section 9(a), ESC couldn’t terminate the agreement at the end of the project. The ALJ found ESC violated several sections of the National Labor Relations Act.

Anderson and the company then alleged three counts against Parks and the union, including fraud in inducement of the contract. The trial court granted the union’s request to dismiss the complaint under Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The appellate judges found in Engineered Steel Concepts, Inc., ESC Group Limited, and Tom Anderson v. General Drivers, Warehousemen, and Helpers Union Local 142, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Steven Parks, that the National Labor Relations Act preempted the state claims. The three state law claims against Parks and the union are essentially based on the exchange between Anderson and Parks in deciding which agreement to use. These issues were before the ALJ for resolution of the NLRB complaint.

“As such, it would be impossible for a state court to determine the merits of Anderson and the Company’s allegations without becoming an obstacle to the federal objective of having the NLRB exclusively 'oversee and referee' the collectively bargaining process between these two entities,” wrote Judge Edward Najam.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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