United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge
before the Court is Defendant Delta Airlines, Inc.'s
(“Delta”) Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff brought a
breach of contract claim and a claim under the Michigan
Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act after Defendant
required Plaintiff to retire due to alcoholism. Defendant
asserts that this Court does not have subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims because the Railway
Labor Act (“RLA”) preempts his claims.
Additionally, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff fails to plead
sufficient facts to support his claims. For the reasons
discussed below, this Court will grant Defendant's
Stewart Jensen, is a former airline pilot. On June 3, 1985,
Republic Airlines hired Plaintiff as an airline pilot. Dkt.
No. 1, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 2). In 1986, Northwest Airlines acquired
Republic, and Northwest retained Plaintiff as a pilot.
Id. at pg. 3 (Pg. ID 3). In 1989, Plaintiff was
diagnosed as being chemically dependent on alcohol.
Id. Plaintiff then agreed to participate in the
Northwest Airlines Pilot Assistance Program (NAPAP) as a part
of his recovery. Id. In May 2002, Plaintiff
relapsed. Id. As a result of the relapse, Plaintiff
entered into an agreement with Northwest Airlines in August
2002 to submit to unannounced tests to detect the consumption
of alcohol and illicit drugs in his system. Id.
2008, Northwest merged with Delta-Defendant. Id.
Thereafter, Plaintiff became a pilot for Defendant.
Id. As a Delta employee, Plaintiff was represented
by a union called the Air Line Pilots Association
(“ALPA”). Dkt. No. 5, pg. 10 (Pg. ID 38). After
the merger, Plaintiff's agreement with Northwest was
superseded by two contracts with Delta. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 3
(Pg. ID 3). The first contract (“Contract A”)
conditioned Plaintiff's continued employment with Delta
on his agreement to submit to blood alcohol tests or drug
screens at any time. Id. at pg. 4 (Pg. ID 4). The
second contract (“Contract B”), a Last Chance
Agreement (“LCA”), incorporated Contract A into
it. Id. Contract B stated that any failure by
Plaintiff to comply with the contracts would constitute just
cause for his discharge. Id. at pg. 18 (Pg. ID 18).
Plaintiff signed these contracts on or about July 28, 2010.
On or about October 10, 2014, Delta subjected Plaintiff to a
phosphatidylethanol (PEth) test, which detected alcohol in
Plaintiff's system. Id. at pg. 5 (Pg. ID 5). On
November 13, 2014, Defendant's Managing Director then
required Plaintiff to choose between retirement and
termination. Id. at pg. 8 (Pg. ID 8). Plaintiff
requested an extension to make his decision; however, the
Managing Director denied this request and commanded Plaintiff
to submit retirement paperwork. Id. at pg. 9 (Pg. ID
9). Plaintiff's resignation became effective on November
17, 2014. Id.
October 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint against
Defendant. Dkt. No. 1. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges
two counts: breach of contract and a violation of the
Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act
(“PWDCRA”). Id. at pg. 4, 10 (Pg. ID 4,
10). On January 12, 2018, Defendant filed its Motion to
Dismiss. Dkt. No. 5. Plaintiff filed a response on January
30, 2018 opposing the Motion. Dkt. No. 8. Defendant filed its
reply on February 12, 2018. Dkt. No. 9.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6) governs motions to dismiss. The court must
construe the complaint in favor of the plaintiff, accept the
allegations of the complaint as true, and determine whether
plaintiff's factual allegations present plausible claims.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must “allege enough facts to make
it plausible that the defendant bears legal liability.”
Agema v. City of Allegan, 826 F.3d 326, 331 (6th
Cir. 2016). The facts need to make it more than “merely
possible that the defendant is liable; they must make it
plausible.” Id. “Bare assertions of
legal liability absent some corresponding facts are
insufficient to state a claim.” Id. A claim
will be dismissed “if the facts as alleged are
insufficient to make a valid claim or if the claim shows on
its face that relief is barred by an affirmative
defense.” Riverview Health Inst., LLC v. Med. Mut.
Of Ohio, 601 F.3d 505, 512 (6th Cir. 2010).
Breach of Contract
of Plaintiff's complaint alleges breach of contract. Dkt.
No. 1, pg. 4 (Pg. ID 4). Plaintiff asserts that the PEth test
Defendant used to test the presence of alcohol detected
alcohol that was in Plaintiff's system due to working on
a construction job with denatured alcohol. Id. at
pg. 6-7 (Pg. ID 6-7). Therefore, Defendant fired Plaintiff
without just cause. See Id. Further, Plaintiff also
asserts that Defendant tested him for alcohol after the
sixty-month period from his original return to duty in April
2003, in violation of Contract B. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 8 (Pg. ID
argues that the RLA preempts Plaintiff's breach of
contract claim. Dkt. No. 5, pg. 21 (Pg. ID 49). Plaintiff
argues that his claim is ...