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London v. Associated Pipe Line Contractors

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

February 10, 2015

MARK POWELL LONDON AND JUDY KAY LONDON,
v.
ASSOCIATED PIPE LINE CONTRACTORS

MEMORANDUM RULING

KAREN L. HAYES, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court are two Motions for Summary Judgment, [doc. #s 30, 31], filed by Defendant Associated Pipe Line Contractors, Inc. Plaintiffs oppose the Motions. [doc. #s 36, 37]. With the consent of all parties, the District Court referred the above-captioned case to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for the conduct of all further proceedings and the entry of judgment.[1] For reasons assigned below, the Motions are GRANTED.

Procedural History

Plaintiffs Mark and Judy London, husband and wife, first filed suit in the Fifth Judicial District Court, Parish of Richland, State of Louisiana, on February 4, 2014, and alleged that Defendant retaliated against them in response to Mark's workers' compensation claim. [doc. # 1-1]. Defendant removed the action to this Court on February 28, 2014, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.[2] Id. On April 7, 2014, Plaintiffs amended their Complaint and alleged the following, in pertinent part:

5. On January 23rd, 2013, Petitioner Mark Powell London suffered an accident while working as Environmental Foreman for Defendant. His wife Petitioner Judy Kay London worked for Defendant as Teamster, they worked for Defendant as a husband and wife team. He and his wife, Petitioner Judy Kay London, were laid off by Defendant.
6. Petitioner filed a workers' compensation benefits claim against Defendant.
7. On September 29th, 2013, Petitioner Mark Powell London returned to work as Environmental Foreman for Defendant at the previous compensation package, but Defendant refused to put Petitioner Judy Kay London back to work in retaliation for her husband filing a workers' compensation claim.
8. Petitioner Mark Powell London worked for two weeks as Environmental Foreman until pay day, when instead of receiving the promised pay, Petitioner only received half of the agreed payment, in retaliation for having filed a workers' compensation claim.
9. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant's conduct, Petitioners have suffered difference in wages promised and paid, loss of wages, benefits and earnings in the past; past mental anguish and emotional distress; anxiety; depression; embarrassment; costs and attorney's fees.
* * *
11. Petitioners were constructively discharged by Defendant in violation of La. R.S. 23:1361.

[doc. # 9, p. 1-2 (emphasis omitted)].

Defendant filed the instant Motions for Summary Judgment on December 3, 2014. [doc. #s 30, 31]. Defendant claims that there is no genuine dispute of material fact concerning whether Mark London was constructively discharged, whether Defendant retaliated against Mark and Judy, whether Defendant's refusal to rehire Judy was extreme and outrageous, whether Defendant desired to inflict severe emotional distress, and whether Defendant knew that Plaintiffs would suffer severe emotional distress as a result of its actions. [doc. #s 30-2; 31-2].[3] Plaintiffs, as mentioned, oppose both Motions.

The matter is now before the Court.

Background

Defendant hired Plaintiffs Mark and Judy London to work on a pipeline construction project in Shelocta, Pennsylvania in August of 2012. [doc. #s 30-3, p. 10; 31-3, p. 8]. As a union member, Mark was subject to the collective bargaining agreement (the National Pipeline Agreement or, "the NPA"), between Defendant and the Laborers' International Union of North America. [ See doc. # 30-3, p. 2, 22]. Similarly, as a member of the Teamsters Union, Judy was subject to the NPA between Defendant and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. [doc. # 31-4, p. 2, 16].

The record indicates that Defendant employs at least three classifications of workers: foremen, straws, and laborers. According to Mark, laborers are paid pursuant to state-specific pay scales set forth in the NPA. [doc. # 30-3, p. 3]. However, Defendant's project superintendents set the rates of pay for foremen and straws, and Defendant chooses whether to pay on an hourly or salaried basis. Id. at 3, 4. According to Judy London, foremen and straws can be paid at rate "A, " the highest pay rate, rate "B, " the median pay rate, or rate "C, " the lowest pay rate ("straw pay"). [doc. # 30-4, p. 2].

On January 23, 2013, Mark injured his shoulder while working for Defendant in Pennsylvania. [doc. # 30-5, p. 5]. He reported the injury to Ryan Wilcox, Defendant's Vice President of Safety and Compliance, and Wilcox directed Mark to the on-site EMT for evaluation. Id. Mark testified that he did not feel any pain and that the EMT informed him that his shoulder was fine. [doc. # 30-3, p. 12]. He also ...


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