United States District Court, D. Hawaii
Matthew J. Debeikes, Plaintiff,
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, Defendants.
ORDER AFFIRMING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, INC.'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO RULE 11, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FEES AND COSTS PURSUANT TO 28 § U.S.C. 1927
ALAN C. KAY, Sr., District Judge.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court AFFIRMS Magistrate Judge Puglisi's December 21, 2015 Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant Hawaiian Airlines, Inc's Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to FRCP Rule 11, or in the Alternative, Fees and Costs Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927, ECF No. 160 (the "Order for Sanctions").
Plaintiff Matthew Debeikes ("Plaintiff" or "Debeikes") filed his initial Complaint in this action on October 3, 2013 against Defendant Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. ("Hawaiian Airlines") and Defendant Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO ("AFA") (collectively, "Defendants"). Compl., ECF No. 1. The Complaint alleged that Defendants forced Plaintiff into early retirement on May 29, 2013. Id . ¶¶ 9, 14, ECF No. 1. Specifically, the Complaint contended that Hawaiian Airlines violated the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") governing the terms and conditions of Debeikes' employment with the company, and that AFA breached its duty to fairly represent Plaintiff as one of its bargaining unit members. Id . ¶¶ 11, 12. The Complaint also alleged that Plaintiff "exhausted contractual and internal remedies" before filing his claim, and "[i]n the alternative" that Defendants' actions excused his failure to exhaust the remedies. Id . ¶ 13.
On October 30, 2014, both Defendants moved for summary judgment. AFA filed a Motion for Summary Judgment ("MSJ") as to Plaintiff's claim that it breached the union's DFR, ECF No. 51, and Hawaiian Airlines filed a MSJ as to all of Plaintiff's claims, ECF No. 54.
On February 17, 2015, the Court granted Defendants' MSJs as to all of Plaintiff's claims. ECF No. 75-1. In the 64 page February SJ Order, the Court concluded that none of Plaintiff's claims, as presented in the Complaint, was viable. First, the Court found that Plaintiff's allegations of "constructive discharge, " related to Hawaiian Airlines' "refus[al] to abide by the CBA, " were preempted by his breach of CBA claim. In addition, the Court found that the claim of constructive discharge was unsupported on the merits. See February SJ Order at 28-30, ECF No. 75-1. Second, the Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff's breach of CBA claim against Hawaiian Airlines, given that Debeikes had retired and filed suit without exhausting the CBA's grievance procedures and no exception to the exhaustion requirement applied. Id. at 34, 39. Third, the Court concluded that it must dismiss Plaintiff's breach of DFR claim against AFA because his breach of CBA claim was not viable, consistent with Bliesner v. Commc'n Workers of Am., 464 F.3d 910, 913 (9th Cir. 2006). See id. In the alternative, the Court also concluded that none of Plaintiff's factual allegations stated a viable breach of DFR claim. Id. at 40-63.
The February SJ Order dismissed Plaintiff's claims without prejudice and granted Debeikes 30-days' leave to file an Amended Complaint. Id. at 64. On March 11, 2015, Debeikes filed his First Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl."), again purporting to bring a hybrid § 301/fair representation claim against AFA and Hawaiian Airlines while also claiming "constructive discharge." Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-14, ECF No. 80. Specifically, the Amended Complaint alleged that Hawaiian Airlines "constructively discharged Plaintiff without just cause'" when it "predetermined to Terminate Plaintiff in violation of the CBA's due process requirement of a fair hearing." Id . ¶13. Relatedly, Plaintiff alleged that Hawaiian Airlines "informed Plaintiff that he would be terminated" if he attended his scheduled disciplinary hearing. Id . Plaintiff further alleged that AFA was aware that Hawaiian Airlines "predetermined to [t]erminate" him and that it "failed to investigate or process" any related grievance. Id . Unlike the original Complaint, the Amended Complaint did not include an allegation that Plaintiff had exhausted his contractual remedies or that his failure to exhaust was excused.
Defendants Hawaiian Airlines and AFA filed separate motions to dismiss, or in the alternative, grant summary judgment based on Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. See ECF. Nos. 85, 94. Hawaiian Airlines also filed a "Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to FRCP Rule 11" related to the Amended Complaint. ECF No. 97. Magistrate Judge Puglisi denied Hawaiian Airlines' motion for sanctions, granting the company leave to "file a second motion seeking Rule 11 sanctions after the district court issues its decision on the pending motions to dismiss or for summary judgment." See Order Denying Without Prejudice Defendant Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.'s Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to FRCP Rule 11 at 2-3, ECF No. 141.
On March 31, 2015, the parties attended a Final Pretrial Conference with Magistrate Judge Puglisi. As memorialized in the conference minutes, the Magistrate Judge set a continued trial date, and Plaintiff requested to re-open discovery. He was expressly "advised to file [a] Motion for Additional Discovery." Minutes of Conf. of Mar. 31, 2015, ECF No. 91. Plaintiff did not, however, proceed to file such a motion.
Plaintiff filed Oppositions to Defendants' motions to dismiss, or in the alternative grant summary judgment on May 7, 2015. See ECF. No. 104, 105. Neither of Plaintiff's Oppositions raised any issue related to discovery.
On May 11, 2015, the Court issued a Minute Order observing that Defendants' motions to dismiss, or in the alternative, grant summary judgment were filed after the dispositive motions deadline had passed. The parties were therefore "encouraged to stipulate to an extension of the dispositive motions deadline." If such an agreement was not possible, the parties were "directed to seek a conference regarding such extension with Judge Puglisi prior to the hearing scheduled for May 28, 2015 on Defendants' motions." ECF No. 107.
The parties did not reach an agreement as to a stipulation to extend the dispositive motions deadline. Instead, the parties attended a telephonic status conference with Magistrate Judge Puglisi on May 27, 2015, after which Magistrate Judge Puglisi issued an order extending the dispositive motions deadline, nunc pro tunc, to April 15, 2015. This allowed Defendants' motions to be considered timely. Minutes of Conf. of May 27, 2015, ECF No. 116. Magistrate Judge Puglisi's Minutes also reflect that Plaintiff's counsel raised at the May 27, 2015 status conference that "he would like to depose the declarants who submitted declarations in support of the Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment." Id.
Plaintiff's counsel raised the same request the next day at the Court's scheduled hearing on Defendants' summary judgment motions. He made an oral motion to continue the hearing and read the minutes of the May 27, 2015 conference into the record. The Court granted Plaintiff's oral motion to continue the hearing, in order to allow Plaintiff time to file a written motion to reopen discovery. See Minutes of Hearing of May 28, 2015, ECF No. 117.
Plaintiff filed his Motion to Reopen Discovery on June 16, 2015. ECF No. 121. Magistrate Judge Puglisi denied Plaintiff's motion in its entirety on July 17, 2015, for the reasons explained in his Order Denying Plaintiff Matthew J. Debeikes' Motion to Reopen Discovery. ECF No. 126. Plaintiff appealed Magistrate Judge Puglisi's order on July 27, 2015, ECF No. 127, and the Court set a hearing on Plaintiff's appeal for September 3, 2015, ECF No. 130.
The Court denied Plaintiff's appeal on October 9, 2015, for the reasons set forth at length in its Order Affirming the Magistrate Judge's Order Denying Plaintiff Matthew J. Debeikes' Motion to Reopen Discovery. ECF No. 139. The Court subsequently heard oral arguments on Defendants' motions to dismiss, or in the alternative grant summary judgment on October 22, 2015.
On October 28, 2015, the Court issued its 69 page Order Granting Summary Judgment as to the Motions to Dismiss or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment of Defendants Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO ("October SJ Order"). October SJ Order, ECF No. 143. The Court first addressed Plaintiff's claims against Hawaiian Airlines. In this respect, the Court noted that it was unclear whether Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleged a constructive discharge claim independent from the breach of CBA claim, because the constructive discharge claim was based on a violation of the CBA's "supposed due process requirement of a fair hearing.'" Id. at 49-50 (quoting Am. Compl. ¶ 14, ECF No. 80). The Court concluded that if an independent claim had been alleged, it was preempted by Plaintiff's breach of CBA claim, as the Court similarly determined in its February SJ Order. Id. at 51-54. In the alternative, the Court concluded that even if not preempted, a constructive discharge claim failed based on the merits, concluding that Plaintiff had voluntarily retired after admitting to allegations of sexual harassment and that Plaintiff could not prove coercion based on relevant legal authority. Id. at 54-58. As with the February SJ Order, the Court also determined that it lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's breach of CBA claim based on his failure to exhaust contractual remedies. Id. at 32-49. The Court noted that the Amended Complaint failed to make any allegation regarding exhaustion or that an exception to the exhaustion requirement applied. Id. at 34. Notwithstanding, the Court evaluated each exception and concluded that none applied. Id . Finally, the Court addressed Plaintiff's claims against AFA. Id. at 58. As with the February SJ Order, the Court noted that under Bliesner, 464 F.3d at 913-14, Plaintiff's claim that AFA breached its DFR could not go forward following the Court's determination that "his breach of CBA claim is not viable." Id. at 58. However, the Court also determined, in the alternative, that Plaintiff's allegations failed to demonstrate a viable breach of duty of fair representation claim against AFA. Id. at 59-67.
Following the Court's October SJ Order, Defendant Hawiian Airlines filed a renewed Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to FRCP Rule 11 or in the Alternative, Fees and Costs Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927 on November 12, 2015. ECF No. 146. Defendant AFA filed a Statement of No Position on November 19, 2015. ECF No. 148. Plaintiff filed his Opposition to the Motion on November 26, 2015. ECF. No. 151. Defendant Hawaiian Airlines filed its Reply on December 10, 2015. ECF No. 157. The Order for Sanctions, issued on December 21, 2015, granted in part and denied in part Defendant Hawaiian Airlines' motion. The instant appeal followed. Plaintiff filed his Appeal and Request to the District Court to Reconsider a Pretrial Matter Determined by the Magistrate Judge ("Appeal") on ...