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McCoy v. City of New Haven

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 5, 2016

DENNIS McCOY, JOHN MAGLIOCHETTI, and GERALD GRAY Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF NEW HAVEN Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Charles S. Haight, Jr. Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Dennis McCoy, John Magliochetti, and Gerald Gray bring this action to challenge a random drug testing policy instituted for city employees by the Defendant City of New Haven. The City has filed a motion [Doc. 14] to dismiss all counts of the Plaintiffs' Complaint. This ruling resolves that motion.

         I. Facts

         The facts alleged by the Plaintiff in the Complaint are scant at best. Plaintiffs allege that they are employees of the City of New Haven in positions which do not require them to possess a Commercial Drivers License ("CDL"). Complaint, ¶ 1. Plaintiffs further allege that beginning in the fall of 2012, and continuing until the filing of the complaint, the Plaintiffs were required to submit to random drug testing. Plaintiffs assert that the random drug testing is not required by state or federal law. Complaint, ¶ 3. This caused plaintiffs "humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress." Complaint, ¶ 4.

         Count One of the Complaint alleges that these drug tests deprived the Plaintiffs of their right to be free of unreasonable and warrantless searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiffs bring suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 42 U.S.C. 1988. Count Two of the Complaint alleges that the drug tests unreasonably intrude upon the physical seclusion and privacy of the Plaintiffs, presumably under state law. Count Three alleges that the random drug testing violates the Plaintiffs' state constitutional rights against warrantless searches and seizures under Article First, Section Seven of the Connecticut Constitution.

         II. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "a case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction . . . when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it." Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). Furthermore, "[a] plaintiff asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it exists." Id. Finally, "[i]n resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a district court, . . . may refer to evidence outside the pleadings." Id.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows parties to assert by motion the defense that the other party "fail[ed] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). In analyzing whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts alleged in the complaint. Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011) (citing Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002)). Claims set forth by the plaintiff in the complaint must be facially plausible. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Aschcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A complaint does not need to put forth "detailed factual allegations" to survive a 12(b)(6) motion, but must involve more than "unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s]" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         III. Analysis

         A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Defendant argues that the Plaintiffs, as members of the Parks, Recreation and Trees Department of the City of New Haven, are bargaining unit members of UE Local 222 CILU/CIPU, Local 71 Union, and as such are subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") negotiated by the City of New Haven and their union. Defendant asserts that under the CBA, Plaintiffs are required to exhaust the grievance procedures outlined in the CBA before pursuing a claim in the courts. As Plaintiffs have not exhausted these administrative procedures, the Defendants assert that the Court lacks jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) to adjudicate the dispute.

         Plaintiffs argue that the CBA does not provide for a grievance mechanism for these circumstances because their grievances arise out of a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU"), signed after the CBA, between the Defendant and their Union regarding drug testing, rather than the CBA itself. The CBA, which went into effect July 1, 2010, provides for random drug testing on any city employee holding a safety-sensitive position. The Memorandum of Understanding, dated November 25, 2014, modified the CBA's random drug testing provision to state that "[e]ffective upon the signing of this MOU, the City shall revert to random drug testing exclusively for CDL holders and shall no longer require random drug testing on safety sensitive positions." The MOU does not provide for a grievance procedure. Plaintiffs note that Article 13, Section 1 of the CBA provides that a grievance may only be filed for "any asserted violation of the specific terms or provisions of this Agreement." The Complaint in this case was filed on September 21, 2015, and alleges violations commencing in the fall of 2012. Thus, there are two periods the Court need consider. The first period extends from the onset of the drug testing in the fall of 2012 to the signing of the MOU. The second period extends from the signing of the MOU until the filing of the lawsuit.

         During the first time period, the Plaintiffs were required to exhaust the grievance procedures under the CBA. Because the random drug test policy contained in the CBA included the Plaintiffs, and the CBA required parties to file grievances for matters concerning the CBA, Plaintiffs should have exhausted the grievance procedures before bringing suit in federal court. “It is well settled under both federal and state law that, before resort to the courts is allowed, an employee must at least attempt to exhaust exclusive grievance and arbitration procedures, such as those contained in the collective bargaining agreement between the defendant and the plaintiffs' union.... Failure to exhaust the grievance procedures deprives the court of subject matter jurisdiction.” Gerlach v. City of Danbury, 2012 WL 1032796 (D. Conn. Mar. 27, 2012) (quoting Saccardi v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Stamford, 45 Conn.App. 712, 715-16 (Conn. App. Ct. 1997)). The CBA provided that the grievance procedures were necessary for "any asserted violation of the specific terms or provisions of this agreement." CBA, Article 13, Section 1. Under Article 38, Section 4, the CBA provided for the terms of the random drug testing policy. Thus, the random drug testing policy was a specific term of the agreement, and subject to the grievance policy.

         Plaintiffs contend, however, that their complaint is pursuant to the MOU, [1] rather than the CBA, which provides that the City would only randomly test CDL holders for drugs, rather than all employees in a safety sensitive position, as per the terms of the CBA. Plaintiffs argued that they were therefore not subject to the grievance procedures provided in the CBA. This argument is only applicable to the second time period mentioned above: after the signing of the MOU and before the filing of the lawsuit. However, this interpretation of the MOU and CBA would eviscerate the intentions of the parties. To have in place a CBA with a grievance procedure that covers random drug testing, and then, by virtue of a MOU revising the random drug testing procedures only as to the question of who would be subject to the random drug testing, construe the CBA as no longer making random drug testing grievances subject to the grievance procedure, would be nonsensical. "The primary objective in contract interpretation is to give effect to the intent of the contracting parties 'as revealed by the language they chose to use.'" Sayers v. Rochester Telephone Corp. Supplemental Management Pension Plan, 7 F.3d 1091 (2d Cir. 1993) (quoting Seiden Assocs. v. ANC Holdings, Inc., 959 F.2d 425, 428 (2d Cir. 1992)). In this case, the MOU expressly refers to the CBA, and the random drug testing provision. The ...


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