United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
CHRISTOPHER E. BUCKNER, Plaintiff,
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., Defendant.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to
dismiss plaintiffs claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [DE 8]. The matter has been
fully briefed and is ripe for ruling. For the reasons
discussed below, the motion to dismiss is granted.
plaintiffs fourth lawsuit against United Parcel Service
("UPS"), now his former employer. See Buckner
v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 2012 WL 1596726 (E.D.NC.
May 7, 2012); Buckner v. United Parcel Service,
Inc., 2015 WL 5603369 (E.D. N.C. Sept. 23, 2015);
Buckner v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 2016 WL
6477048 (E.D. N.C. Oct. 6, 2016). In this version of his
complaint, plaintiff seeks injunctive and monetary relief for
the alleged injuries arising out of his termination and
subsequent grievance hearing.
appearing pro se, has asserted four state law
claims: fraud, negligence, defamation per se and
defamation. UPS moved to dismiss those claims under the
following defenses: res judicata, preemption under §301
of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), and
for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 283 (1986). When
acting on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "the
court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and
should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff." Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7
F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). A complaint must allege
enough facts to state a claim for relief that is facially
plausible. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). The court need not accept the plaintiffs
legal conclusions drawn from the facts, nor need it accept as
true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments. Philips v. Pitt County Mem. Hosp., 572
F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009). In evaluating a motion to
dismiss, a court may consider the pleadings and any materials
"attached or incorporated into the complaint:"
E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus.
Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011). Plaintiffs
appearing pro se are entitled to a certain amount of
leniency. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106,
(1976). However, they are not freed from the responsibility
to follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
noted above, all of plaintiff s claims stem from his
termination from UPS and the unfavorable resolution of his
grievance hearing. Buckner's most recent lawsuit against
UPS also asserted claims grounded in his dismissal.
Therefore, res judicata applies.
purpose of res judicata is to prevent parties from contesting
matters that "they have had a full and fair opportunity
to litigate." Montana v. United States, 440
U.S. 147, 153-54 (1979). The Fourth Circuit applies a
transactional approach. Claims based on the same underlying
transaction as a previous lawsuit, which could have been
brought in that previous suit, are barred. Clodfelter v.
Republic of Sudan, 720 F.3d 199, 210 (4th Cir. 2013).
Related claims cannot be divvied up across multiple lawsuits,
even if some claims were not originally brought in the first
lawsuit. Peugeot Motors of Am., Inc. v. E. Auto
Distributors, Inc., 892 F.2d 355, 359 (4th Cir. 1989).
While res judicata does not apply to claims that did not
exist at the time of the previous lawsuit, "it is the
existence of the present claim, not party awareness of it,
that controls." Meekins v. United Transp.
Union, 946 F.2d 1054, 1057 (4th Cir. 1991).
claims are barred by res judicata. All of plaintiff s claims
are based on the end of his employment relationship with UPS,
as they were in his previous lawsuit. The common nucleus of
operative fact remains the same, from his discharge in May
2016 to his hearing in July 2016. During all this time,
Plaintiffs third suit against UPS was pending, and it was not
dismissed until October 2016. Plaintiffs claims either were
litigated, or could have and should have been litigated at
§301 of the LMRA applies here, and preempts all state
law claims. 29 U.S.C. §185. A claim requiring the
interpretation of a CBA falls within §301 of the LMRA.
United Steelworkers of Am. v. Rawson, 495 U.S. 362,
368 (1990); see also Buckner v. United Parcel Service,
Inc., 2016 WL 6477048 (E.D. N.C. Oct. 6, 2016). Like in
his previous complaints, plaintiffs claims turn on
interpretations of the collective bargaining agreement
("CBA"). The grievance hearing he is suing about
was conducted directly pursuant to the CBA. To assert claims
under the LMRA, plaintiff would need to make allegations he
fails to do. Plaintiff did not meet the six-month statute of
limitations, as all the alleged activities that gave rise to
his complaint took place in July 2016, and he filed this
lawsuit in July 2017. Plaintiff has not pled the elements of
§301, which would include exhaustion of his
administrative remedies, a breach of the duty of fair
representation, and a breach of the CBA itself.
Plaintiff has failed to allege facts to state any claim under
North Carolina law. Such claims must be pled with reasonable
particularity and must state plausible grounds for relief.
None of plaintiff s claims do so. Therefore, all of his state
law clams would be dismissed even if neither res judicata nor
the LMRA applied here.
Defendant's motion to dismiss [DE 8] is GRANTED. This
Court directs the clerk ...