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Kastens v. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 18, 2017

RYAN KASTENS, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Ryan Kastens filed this action against International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAMAW”), District 70, and Bob Martinez, IAMAW's President alleging unfair labor practices under 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(1)(A) and (b)(2). Kastens alleges that Defendants initiated his termination from Spirit Aerosystems and failed to represent him in good faith in his grievance proceedings. Defendants now argue that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and, alternatively, Kastens failed to state a claim for relief. For reasons explained below, the Court grants Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc 12).

         I. Factual and Procedural Background[1]

         Kastens was employed at Spirit from January 8, 2010 until his termination on March 5, 2014. Kastens received several disciplinary punishments prior to his termination. His local union chapter, District 70, intervened on multiple occasions to lessen his punishment. However, his relationship with the leadership took a turn for the worse during the campaign for IAMAW's elections in the fall of 2013. Kastens supported the “reform candidates, ” much to the chagrin of District 70's leadership.

         On January 27, 2014, Kastens received an email from another Spirit employee containing a video of a collision between a company scooter and a truck on the street next to Spirit. Kastens forwarded the email to several people, including District 70 officials. A union official e-mailed the video to Spirit. At that time, Spirit had multiple policies prohibiting the sharing of company information with those outside the company.

         On March 5, 2014 Spirit terminated Kastens's employment for sharing the video. In response, Kastens filed a grievance with the Union. Frank Molina, a District 70 official, negotiated with Spirit as Kastens's representative. Molina failed to communicate with Kastens and deliberately kept him uninformed. Without consulting Kastens, Molina negotiated a cash settlement for $2, 000. When Kastens informed Molina he wanted arbitration, Molina refused.

         During the time his grievance was being negotiated, Howard Johnson, a union representative at Spirit, became embroiled in a verbal altercation with Kastens and threatened to “beat his ass” for campaigning with a reform candidate. After other officials interceded, Johnson swore that Kastens would never be reinstated at Spirit.

         Upon completion of the grievance process, Kastens filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). The NLRB determined that District 70 violated 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(1)(A) and (b)(2) by preventing Kastens from exercising his right to engage in union activities and causing Spirit to terminate Kastens's employment. The NLRB found District 70 committed unfair labor practices by handling Kastens's grievance in an arbitrary manner and threatening him physical harm. The NLRB ordered District 70 to seek Kastens's reinstatement and repay him for lost wages. Accordingly, District 70 paid Kastens $35, 213 in backpay on July 21, 2016.

         Not satisfied, Kastens filed suit in this Court against IAMAW, District 70, and Martinez on September 6, 2016. In his complaint, Kastens incorporates the NLRB decision and alleges the same facts and unfair labor practices. Kastens states he is filing suit in this Court because “the NLRB is not able to pursue punitive damages.” On March 1, 2017, Defendants filed this present motion to dismiss. Defendants argue this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction, and alternatively, that Kastens failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Legal Standard

         Because Kastens is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his complaint liberally and holds it to a less stringent standard than if drafted by a lawyer.[2] However, the Court may not supply additional factual allegations to “round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.”[3]

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), a defendant may move to dismiss a claim when the Court “lack(s) subject matter jurisdiction.”[4] Federal courts possess limited jurisdiction with “only those powers conferred by Congress.”[5] Because there is a presumption against the Court's jurisdiction, the party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proof.[6] “If the Court finds it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a complaint, the Court shall immediately dismiss the action.[7]

         III. Discussion

         Kastens alleges that Defendants committed unfair labor practices as defined in 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(1)(A) and (b)(2) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). Defendants contend Congress granted jurisdiction over the NLRA solely to the NLRB, ...

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