United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR TEMPORARY
RESTRAINING ORDER AND REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT FOR
LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
Michael Seabright, Chief United States
January 16, 2018, Defendant Hawaii Nurses' Association
Office and Professional Employees International Union Local
50 (“Defendant” or “HNA”) removed
this action to this court from the First Circuit Court of the
State of Hawaii (the “state court”) after the
state court issued a 30-day preliminary injunction on January
3, 2018 that enjoined HNA from certain union-related
activities. Def.'s Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. HNA
removed based upon the complete preemption doctrine,
contending that the suit “directly relates to the
validity” of “an election already
conducted” by a labor union, and is thus completely
preempted by Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and
Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”), 29 U.S.C. §§
481-83. Id. at 3, 10 & 11.
court faces three Motions: (1) Plaintiffs Daniel Ross, Marina
Robinson, and Joan Craft's (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) Motion for Temporary Restraining
Order (“TRO”), ECF No. 10; (2) Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and to Vacate
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary
Injunction, ECF No. 20; and (3) Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand, ECF No. 21. Based on the following, the action is
REMANDED to state court for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. Plaintiff's Motion for TRO is DENIED as
moot, and the court does not reach Defendant's Motion to
the Motions at issue primarily concern federal jurisdiction
and procedure, and do not require the court to address the
merits of the Complaint, the court sets forth only the
essential factual allegations of the underlying dispute to
provide necessary context for the Motions.
a Hawaii labor union with approximately 4, 500 members whose
purpose is “promoting the professional and educational
advancement of nurses and other health care professionals and
advancing their economic and general welfare by securing
terms and conditions of employment consistent with the ideals
of fair wages and benefits.” Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No.
1-1. In 2010, HNA “affiliated with the Office and
Professional Employees International Union
(‘OPEIU'), becoming Hawaii Nurses' Association,
OPEIU Local 50, AFL-CIO.” Id. ¶ 9.
Daniel Ross is a nurse at Queen's Medical Center.
Id. ¶ 4. He was “recently removed from
the Office of Vice President of the HNA Executive Board,
” after he was found “to be a member not in good
standing” of the HNA. Id. Specifically, an HNA
Trial Board November 16, 2017 written decision “found
that Daniel Ross violated his duties by participating in the
sending of anonymous emails to HNA members.”
Id. ¶ 22. The Trial Board recommended that he
“be immediately removed from the office of Vice
President” and “be prohibited from running for
any officer position for a period of six (6) years.”
Id. ¶ 23. It found his “actions
constitute conduct unbecoming an official of HNA, ”
such that he “should be considered a member not in good
standing for a period of six (6) years.” Id.
Marina Robinson is a nurse at Kaiser Hospital. Id.
¶ 5. She is an HNA member who was “recently
removed [as] Treasurer of the HNA Executive Board.”
Id. A different November 16, 2017 HNA Trial Board
decision found that she violated her duties as Treasurer
“by making unreasonable reporting requests, signing
checks to pay HNA's financial obligations in an untimely
fashion, [and] refusing to sign paychecks for an independent
contractor performing services for HNA.” Id.
¶ 24. The Trial Board recommended removing her from
office and prohibiting her from running for any officer
position for four years. She was, however, allowed to
continue as a member in good standing and as a union steward.
Id. ¶ 25.
Joan Craft is a nurse at Queen's Medical Center.
Id. ¶ 6. “[S]he was recently removed from
her position as Chief Steward” of HNA” and found
“to be a member not in good standing.”
Id. The HNA Trial Board found that she
“violated her duties as Chief Steward by owning [sic?]
anonymous emails, participating in the content of anonymous
emails, and misrepresenting union member freedom of speech
rights.” Id. ¶ 26. It recommended that
she immediately be removed her from her position as Chief
Steward, prohibited from running for any officer position for
four years, and “be considered a member not in good
standing” for four years. Id. ¶ 27.
reiterating the specific allegations of the Complaint,
Plaintiffs allege that HNA violated various provisions of
OPEIU and HNA governing documents and procedures in these
Trial Board decisions (and related review processes) that
removed them from office, and (with Ross and Craft) found
them to be “members not in good standing.”
Id. ¶¶ 29, 36, 47-76. For example, among
other relief, Ross and Robinson seek a declaration that they
were removed from office in violation of governing documents
and Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) §
414D-138. Id. ¶ 76. They also apparently sought
to have their appeals heard “at the next regularly
scheduled membership meeting[.]” Id.
¶¶ 36, B.
the Trial Board made its recommendations on November 16,
2017, all three Plaintiffs were candidates for an ongoing
election for officers of the 2018 HNA Executive Board.
Id. ¶ 37. Ross was a candidate for President,
Robinson for Trustee, and Craft for Treasurer. Id.
The Complaint alleges that the OPEIU Constitution requires
new nominations if any candidate is suspended from union
membership during the election process, but the HNA Executive
Board refused to hold new nominations. Id. ¶
40. Ballots were counted on December 12, 2017. Id.
Complaint further alleges that “Plaintiff Joan Craft
prevailed in her candidacy for the office of Treasurer, but
the [HNA] refuses to recognize her candidacy for
office.” Id. ¶ 42. “Plaintiff
Daniel Ross lost in his candidacy for the office of
President because the HNA Executive Board informed the
membership, while he was a candidate on the election ballot,
that he was no longer eligible for the position.”
Id. ¶ 43. Likewise, “Plaintiff Marina
Robinson lost her candidacy for the position of Trustee
because the HNA Executive Board informed the membership,
while she was a candidate on the election ballot, that she
was no longer eligible for the position.” Id.
face, Plaintiffs' Complaint raises no federal claims (and
there is no diversity of citizenship). Specifically, the
Complaint asserts three Counts under Hawaii law: (1) Count
One (“Breach of Governing Documents”) alleges
that Defendant violated provisions of the HNA Constitution
and bylaws and/or HNA's parent union's (OPEIU)
Constitution, policies, or procedures, all in “breach
of the governing documents and HRS Section 414D-138”;
(2) Count Two (“Declaratory Judgment”) seeks a
declaration that Ross and Robinson were removed from the
offices of Vice President and Treasurer, respectively, in
violation of governing documents and HRS § 414D-138; and
(3) Count Three (“Injunctive Relief”) seeks to
enjoin Defendants from acting in violation of the governing
documents and HRS § 414D-138. Compl. at 8-12. The
Complaint's prayer seeks the following relief:
A. That the Court issue judgment declaring that: (i) the
Hawaii Nurses' Association violated their governing
documents; (ii) The Hawaii Nurses' Association improperly
removed Plaintiffs Daniel Ross and Marina Robinson from their
respective offices of Vice President and Treasurer; and
B. That the Court issue judgment enjoining the Defendants to:
(i) cease and desist holding a membership meeting that does
not include Plaintiffs' appeals of their Trial Board
decisions; and (ii) cease and desist appointing and
installing the prevailing candidates on the current election
ballot into Offices of the HNA Executive Board.
Id. at 12.
filed their Complaint in state court on December 15, 2017,
and it was served on December 18, 2017. ECF No. 1-1 at 2; ECF
No. 1-2 at 3. A week later, on December 22, 2017, Plaintiffs
filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction, along with a
Motion to Shorten Time for hearing that Motion. ECF Nos. 1-3,
1-5. The Motion for Preliminary Injunction was heard by Judge
Dean Ochiai on January 3, 2018. ECF No. 1-10.
Ochiai issued an oral ruling granting the Motion on January
3, 2018, followed by a written order filed on January 11,
2018 (the “State Court Preliminary Injunction”).
ECF No. 1-10. He ordered as follows:
HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that:
1. Defendant, as well as its officers, agents, servants,
employees, and attorneys, are enjoined from installation
and/or ratification of Defendant's Executive Board,
elected by the ballots counted on December 12, 2017;
2. Defendant, as well as its officers, agents, servants,
employees, and attorneys, are enjoined from conducting
further disciplinary proceedings, including appeals,
concerning the charges against Plaintiffs, determined by the
Trial Board's written decisions issued on November 16,
3. Defendant, as well as its officers, agents, servants,
employees, and attorneys, are enjoined from imposing and/or
enforcing the penalties in the Trial Board's written
decisions issued on November 16, 2017;
This preliminary injunction shall remain in effect for thirty
(30) days from January 3, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. During the
thirty-day period, the parties are placed back into the
positions they were in prior to the following internal
charges being filed against Plaintiffs: The charges filed by
Terilyn Carvalho Luke against Daniel Ross, dated August 21,
2017; the charges filed by Terilyn Carvalho Luke against
Marina Robinson, dated ...