United States District Court, D. Maine
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, DISTRICT LODGE 4, LOCAL LODGE S6, Plaintiff,
BATH IRON WORKS, INC., Defendant.
ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS
Z. Singal United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Bath Iron Works, Inc.’s Motion
to Dismiss (ECF No. 9) (the “Motion”). For the
reasons explained herein, the Court GRANTS the Motion.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that a
complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the
grounds for the court’s jurisdiction . . . a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief; and a demand for the relief
sought[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(3). The Court assumes
the truth of the complaint’s well-pleaded facts and
draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff’s favor.
Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669
F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012). Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
“may consider only facts and documents that are part of
or incorporated into the complaint.” United Auto.,
Aero., Agric. Impl. Workers of Am. Int’l Union v.
Fortuno, 633 F.3d 37, 39 (1st Cir. 2011) (internal
viable complaint need not proffer “heightened fact
pleading of specifics, ” but in order to survive a
motion to dismiss it must contain “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court should
“begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are
no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption
of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
679 (2009). Plaintiff must include enough facts supporting a
claim for relief that “nudge their claims across the
line from conceivable to plausible.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570. “If the factual allegations in the
complaint are too meager, vague, or conclusory to remove the
possibility of relief from the realm of mere conjecture, the
complaint is open to dismissal.” Haley v. City of
Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting SEC
v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 442 (1st Cir. 2010)); see
also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (stating that the Court need
not accept “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace
Workers, District Lodge 4, Local Lodge S6
(“Plaintiff” or the “Union”) seeks to
challenge the enforceability of an award rendered through an
arbitration process mandated under the parties’
collective bargaining agreement. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff
alleges that, after hearings were held in the arbitration,
the Arbitrator remarked to Union representative Richard Nolon
that he had not heard a case between the parties in six years
because he had previously issued an award that angered an
official at Bath Iron Works, Inc. (“Defendant”).
(Compl. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges that the Arbitrator
told Nolon that he did not want to continue on the
“strike list.” (Id.) According to
Plaintiff, this statement was an admission by the Arbitrator
that he was motivated to issue an award favorable to
Defendant in order to advance his own interests. (Compl.
five months after the Arbitrator’s alleged statement to
Nolon, on February 11, 2016, the Arbitrator finalized an
award in the arbitration that was favorable to Defendant.
(Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff brought the present action by
filing the pending complaint (ECF No. 1) (the
“Complaint”) on May 19, 2016.
has moved for the dismissal of the Complaint for failure to
state a claim under which relief can be granted pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6). Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to file
the Complaint within Maine’s 90-day time limit for the
filing of a challenge to an arbitral award. Defendant further
contends that, even if the failure to meet the statutory time
limit did not bar the suit, Plaintiff cannot base a challenge
to the award on the Arbitrator’s alleged bias where the
evidence of such bias was known to Plaintiff prior to the
Arbitrator’s decision but was not raised at that time.
Contrary to Plaintiff’s opposing arguments, Defendant
is correct, and each of these reasons provides an independent
and sufficient basis for the Court to dismiss the Complaint.
brings its claim under 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(2), which
provides that a federal court may order an arbitration award
vacated “where there was evident partiality or
corruption in the arbitrator . . . .” Under Maine
law, a litigation to vacate an arbitration award must be
filed “within 90 days after delivery of a copy of the
award to the [plaintiff], except that, if predicated upon
corruption, fraud or other undue means, it shall be made
within 90 days after such grounds are known or should have
been known.” 14 M.R.S.A. § 5938(2). The parties
agree that this Court should apply the time limitation on an
action to vacate an arbitration award set forth in the laws
of the forum state, and they also agree that the Complaint
was not filed within 90 days of delivery of the
Arbitrator’s final award or within 90 days of the date
that plaintiff first learned of the grounds upon which it
alleges bias by the Arbitrator. (Def.’s Mot. Dismiss
(ECF No. 9) at PageID #s 24-26; Pl.’s Opp. Def.’s
Mot. Dismiss (ECF No. 10) at PageID # 32.)
there is no dispute that Maine’s 90-day rule for filing
this action would ordinarily apply, nor is there a dispute
that Plaintiff failed to meet the required filing deadline.
Plaintiff nonetheless urges the Court to excuse this failure.
Plaintiff asserts that Defendant was notified, prior to the
expiry of the 90-day period, that Plaintiff intended to file
this suit. (Pl.’s Opp. Def.’s Mot. Dismiss (ECF
No. 10) at PageID # 32.) Therefore, according to Plaintiff,
the policy in favor of finality of arbitral decisions would
not be upset by permitting this suit, because Defendant had
reason to expect that the suit might be filed in the future.
(Id. at PageID #s 32-33.)
argument, however, is not availing. First, Plaintiff did not
allege notice to Defendant in the Complaint. Second, and more
fundamentally, courts have consistently applied the principle
that judicial review of arbitration awards be narrow and
circumscribed. See, e.g., UMass Mem’l Med.
Ctr., Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union,
527 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2008) (explaining that judicial
review of arbitral awards is “extremely narrow and
exceedingly deferential” in light of parties’
contractual election to arbitrate (internal quotation
omitted)); N. New England Tel. Operations LLC v. Local
2327, Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, AFL-CIO, 735
F.3d 15, 21 (1st Cir. 2013) (“judicial review of
arbitration awards is among the narrowest known in law”
(internal quotation omitted)); Cytyc Corp. v. DEKA Prods.
Ltd. P’ship, 439 F.3d 27, 32 (1st Cir. 2006)
(“The authority of a federal court to disturb an
arbitration award is tightly circumscribed.”).
Plaintiff has identified no legal authority that supports the
premise that notice to a defendant tolls the 90-day deadline
or cures a failure to meet the deadline, and merely argues
without citation that Defendant has suffered no prejudice.
(Pl.’s Opp. Def.’s Mot. Dismiss (ECF No. 10) at
PageID # 33.) Such assertions provide no basis for broadening
the narrow and constrained parameters for the courts’
review of arbitral awards. Consequently, Plaintiff has failed
to file a timely action for vacatur, that failure is not
excused, and the Complaint must be dismissed.
Plaintiff had satisfied the timing requirement for this
action, the Complaint would nonetheless be dismissed because
it does not allege a cognizable claim for vacating the award
due to arbitrator bias. While bias can provide a basis for
courts to review and potentially vacate an arbitration award,
the First Circuit has squarely held that a challenging party
cannot support its bias claim with evidence that the party
could have presented in the arbitration proceedings but only
brought forward once an unfavorable award issued. JCI
Commc’ns, Inc. v. Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers,
Local 103, 324 F.3d 42, 51 (1st Cir. 2003)
(“Absent exceptional ...