United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division
JOHN WOODCOCK Plaintiff.
MARATHON PETROLEUM COMPANY, LP; and BLANCHARD REFINING COMPANY, LLC Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
M. EDISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
See Dkt. 18. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss was
referred to this Court by United States District Court Judge
George C. Hanks, Jr. for report and recommendation.
See Dkt. 30. After careful consideration of the
pleadings and the applicable law, the Court RECOMMENDS that
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED.
John Woodcock ("Woodcock") worked in various
capacities for Marathon Petroleum Company, LP and Blanchard
Refining Company, LLC (collectively, "Marathon") at
the Texas City plant. As a member of the local union,
Woodcock's employment at Marathon was governed by a
Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA"), effective
from February 1, 2015, to January 31, 2019.
speaking, Woodcock alleges that, in violation of the CBA,
Marathon required him to work around equipment it knew was
defective and non-compliant with environmental and health and
safety laws, and then wrongfully terminated his employment
when he complained.
specifically, Woodcock contends Marathon required him
"to work around pressure holding vessels, pumps, valves,
gauges and equipment, which continuously leaked dangerous
levels of toxic gasses, including H2S." Dkt. 17 at 2.
Although Woodcock repeatedly complained about the defective
pumps and equipment and requested that they be replaced,
Marathon did not fix the problem. Instead, Marathon
"implemented an unfeasible personal protective equipment
policy, which knowingly violated [t]he Clean Air Act and
other Environmental, Health and Safety civil and criminal
laws." Id. Moreover, "the policy required
[Woodcock] to act as an active co-conspirator in the knowing
release of dangerous gasses in violation of the Clean Air Act
and Environmental, Health and Safety State and Federal
Laws." Id. at 2-3. As a direct result of
Woodcock's complaints about these actions and his refusal
to cooperate in these knowing violations of the law, Marathon
terminated Woodcock's employment.
on these allegations, Woodcock asserts breach of contract,
fraud, and Sabine Pilot claims. Marathon has filed a
Motion to Dismiss, seeking to dismiss Woodcock's Second
Amended Complaint in its entirety.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule
8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
FED. R. ClV. P. 8(a)(2). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion,
the court construes Woodcock's factual allegations in the
light most favorable to plaintiff, accepts all well-pleaded
factual allegations, and draws all reasonable inferences in
Woodcock's favor. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
complaint must contain "more than an unadorned, the
defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation," but need not
have "detailed factual allegations." Id.
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The
plaintiffs claims must also be plausible on their face, which
means there is "factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citation
omitted). "[A] well-pleaded complaint may proceed even
if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of [the
alleged] facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very
remote and unlikely." Bell Ail. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). The Fifth Circuit has repeatedly
noted that "a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6) is viewed
with disfavor and is rarely granted." Leal v.
McHugh, 731 F.3d 405, 410 (5th Cir. 2013) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
first argues that Woodcock's breach of contract claim
must be dismissed because it is preempted by Section 301 of
the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA").
Section 301 "provides the requisite jurisdiction and
remedies for individual employees covered under a
collective-bargaining agreement between that individual's
employer and the union." Thomas v. LTV Corp.,
39 F.3d 611, 616 (5th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Section
301 states, in pertinent part:
Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a
labor organization representing employees in an industry
affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any
such labor organizations, may be brought in any district
court of the United States having jurisdiction of the
parties, without respect to ...