United States District Court, S.D. Texas
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
BRAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Carlos Perla sued Defendants United Airlines and
International Association of Machinists & Aerospace
Workers (“Union”) in a Texas court. Perla raised
a state-law breach of contract claim against United Airlines
(“United”). Because the court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, it is recommended that Perla's claim
against United be dismissed with prejudice.
worked in United's Houston location. He was a union
member of the International Association of Machinists &
Aerospace Workers organized pursuant to the Railroad Labor
Act (RLA). See 45 U.S.C. §§ 152 Fourth,
started working as a Ramp Service Agent in 2000. In 2004, he
was promoted to Lead Agent. Perla maintained that position
until 2013, when he engaged in a physical fight with another
employee. United terminated both employees. Perla appealed
the termination to District Lodge 141 of the Union pursuant
to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
to the CBA, the System Board of Adjustment (“the
Board”) arbitrated the matter. The Union, United,
Perla, and the other employee reached a settlement agreement.
Perla incorrectly refers to the settlement agreement as an
“Arbitration Agreement.” (See D.E. 10.)
The settlement agreement was memorialized in a consent award
issued by the Board. (See D.E. 1-8.) Perla alleges
that the settlement agreement guaranteed his return to full
seniority as a Lead Agent after twenty-four months. He was
not returned to his former position and alleges that United
breached the settlement agreement.
filed suit in Texas court against United on September 26,
2018, claiming that United breached the settlement agreement.
United removed the case to federal court. United reads
Perla's state court petition as seeking to enforce the
consent award. United sought to dismiss Perla's claim as
untimely under the RLA's two-year statute of limitations.
filed an amended complaint in federal court. (D.E. 7,
docketed as Request for Issuance of Summons.) Apparently
realizing that the statute of limitations to enforce the
consent award has run, Perla clarified that he is seeking to
enforce the settlement agreement through a state-law contract
claim, which has a longer statute of limitations.
court held a hearing on March 5, 2019. Perla's counsel
reiterated that he is suing United for its breach of the
settlement agreement under Texas contract law. On that basis
the court ordered the parties to brief whether the RLA
preempts Perla's state-law contract claim. Perla filed a
brief, arguing that the RLA does not preempt his contract
claim because it is independent of the CBA. (D.E. 18.) United
filed a supplemental brief arguing that the RLA preempts
Perla's claim and the court should dismiss Perla's
claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (D.E. 19.)
Standard of review
Rule 12, a court may dismiss an action for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction at any stage of the litigation.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). A party may also challenge the
court's jurisdiction at any stage because “[p]roper
jurisdiction for a federal court is fundamental and necessary
before touching the substantive claims of a lawsuit.”
See Arena v. Graybar Elec. Co., 669 F.3d 214, 223
(5th Cir. 2012).
complaint, undisputed facts, and the court's resolution
of disputed facts can provide grounds for dismissal for lack
of subject-matter jurisdiction. See Ramming v. United
States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001); see also
Vantage Trailers, Inc. v. Beall Corp., 567 F.3d 745, 748
(5th Cir. 2009) (the court need not resolve disputed facts in
favor of the plaintiff in determining jurisdiction).
party defending federal jurisdiction, irrespective of their
initial position, has the burden to allege a plausible set of
facts that establishes federal jurisdiction.
DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 n.3
(2006). Where, as here, a defendant removes the case to
federal court and subsequently raises a motion to dismiss
based on lack of ...