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Collver v. Bay Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

January 20, 2017



          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Maureen Collver initiated the above-captioned matter by filing her complaint against Defendant Bay Regional Medical Center, d/b/a/ McLaren Bay Region (“BRMC”), on June 30, 2016 in Bay County Circuit Court. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant terminated her employment after she received a false positive on a drug test. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant's purported reason for terminating her employment was pretextual, and that Defendant's true reason for terminating her employment was her age. She therefore asserts the following four counts: (1) Age discrimination in violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”), M.C.L. 37.201; (2) Breach of a Last Chance Agreement; (3) Breach of an oral contract; and (4) Promissory Estoppel.

         On August 15, 2016 Defendant removed the action to this Court, arguing that this Court has federal subject-matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff's breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims are completely preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). See ECF No. 1. Defendant filed an answer to Plaintiff's complaint on August 22, 2016. See ECF No. 2. Then, on October 25, 2016 Defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Counts II, III, and IV of Plaintiff's complaint are wholly preempted by the LMRA and that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under the LMRA. See ECF No. 6. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion will be converted into a motion for summary judgment, and a supplemental briefing schedule will be established.


         Plaintiff Maureen Collver, born on February 2, 1961, is a resident of Bay County, Michigan. See Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4, ECF No. 1. Defendant BRMC is a domestic nonprofit corporation conducting business in Bay County, Michigan. Compl. ¶ 2. Defendant (or its predecessor) hired Plaintiff Collver as a registered nurse on or around January 12, 1987, and continued to employ Plaintiff over a 28 year period. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6.


         Plaintiff alleges that in June of 2012 her estranged husband filed a false report with the Bay City Police Department that Plaintiff was stealing Vicodin from Defendant and hiding the medication in her car. Compl. ¶ 7. The Bay City Police Department contacted Defendant's Human Resources Department regarding the allegations, and Plaintiff voluntarily consented to a search of her car, which did not reveal any stolen Vicodin. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9. Defendant also required Plaintiff to submit to a mandatory drug screening, which returned negative. Compl. ¶ 10.

         Almost one year later, in May of 2013, Defendant accused Plaintiff of failing to administer Vicodin to two patients in a six month period of time. Compl. ¶ 12. As a consequence Defendant, through Greg Purtell, required Plaintiff to enroll in the State's Health Professional Recovery Program (“HPRP”) or face termination. Compl. ¶ 13. Plaintiff was also required to sign a Last Chance Agreement. Compl. ¶ 14.

         The Last Chance Agreement is attached to Plaintiff's complaint as Exhibit A. See Last Chance Agreement, ECF No. 1. It is an agreement between Plaintiff, Defendant, and Plaintiff's Union, the “Professional Registered Nurses Staff Council of McLaren Bay Region, Represented by Service Employees International Union Healthcare of Michigan” (the “Union”). The agreement was to be effective three years from the date of its execution. In relevant part, the Last Chance Agreement provides as follows:

2. The Employer, Union and the Employee agree that if the employee violates the terms of this Last Chance Agreement, the terms of any policy, work rule, and/or any terms of the collective bargaining agreement, or fails to comply with all requirements and conditions outlined in the [HPRP] Recovery Monitoring Agreement, during the three (3) years, Employee's employment shall terminate and such termination shall be considered to be for just cause.
7. Employer, at its expense, may require Employee to undergo an alcohol and/or drug screen analysis on occasions randomly selected by Employer. Any refusal by Employee to submit to any such alcohol and/or drug screen analysis shall be deemed a voluntary quit and the voluntary quit shall be effective immediately upon such refusal. In the event that any such alcohol and/or drug screen analysis results in a confirmed positive reading, Employee shall be deemed to have voluntarily quit, and such voluntary quit shall be effective immediately upon such positive reading.
9. The Employer, the Union and the Employee shall understand and intend this document to constitute a last chance and agree that the Employee may be terminated under the terms of this Agreement without regard to progressive discipline, and regardless of the type, nature, or severity of such incident. Any termination of employment under this Agreement shall occur only after the incident in question is fully investigated by the Employer and a violation is found. The Employee will be entitled to ...

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