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Crosson v. United Steel Local 1299

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

June 29, 2018

UNITED STEEL LOCAL 1299, et al.,, Defendants.



         This matter is currently before the Court on Defendant United States Steel Corporation's (“U.S. Steel”) motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 26). The motion is fully briefed and a hearing was held on March 15, 2018. For the following reasons, U.S. Steel's motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Terry Crosson was employed by U.S. Steel from September 9, 2002 until his termination in 2016. Compl. ¶ 11 (Dkt. 1); Def. Mot. at 1, PageID.159. As part of his employment application, Crosson signed an agreement which stated:

I understand and agree that any claim that I might pursue upon termination of my employment or any other adverse action arising out of my employment must be brought within six (6) months of the date of my termination or such adverse action[.] I knowingly waive any limitations period which allows a longer time to bring a claim. If I am subject to a collective bargaining agreement, which requires that I bring a claim in less time, I understand that such lesser time shall apply.

         Employment Application, Ex. 1 to Def. Mot., at PageID.180 (Dkt. 26-2).

         Crosson was suspended on October 24, 2016; the complaint alleges that the stated reason for his suspension was that he committed an unsafe act with a catastrophic potential outcome. Compl. ¶ 19 (Dkt. 1). Crosson was terminated on November 3, 2016. Id. ¶ 22. On November 7, 2016, he filed a grievance, which states, “I, Terry Crosson badge 7080, contend that the Company letter dated ___ converting my suspension to discharge is too severe a penalty.” Grievance, Ex. 3 to Def. Reply (Dkt. 30-2). On April 27, 2017, Crosson's union informed him that the matter would not proceed to arbitration. See Letter from USW Union, Ex. A to Pl. Resp. (Dkt. 29-2).

         Crosson filed the instant lawsuit on July 21, 2017. Among other claims, Crosson alleges that U.S. Steel violated the Workers' Disability Compensation Act of 1969, Mich. Comp. Laws. § 418.301(13), by terminating him in retaliation for seeking workers' compensation benefits. Compl. ¶¶ 47-55. U.S. Steel filed the instant motion for summary judgment, arguing only that the retaliation claim is time-barred.[1]


         A motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when there are “disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “[F]acts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a ‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         Once the movant satisfies its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts showing a triable issue of material fact. Scott, 550 U.S. at 380; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Scott, 550 U.S. at 380 (quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586), as the “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment, ” id. (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-248) (emphasis in original); see also Babcock & Wilcox Co. v. Cormetech, Inc., 848 F.3d 754, 758 (6th Cir. 2017) (“A mere scintilla of evidence or some metaphysical doubt as to a material fact is insufficient to forestall summary judgment.”).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The sole issue presented is whether the statute of limitations has run on Crosson's retaliation claim. U.S. Steel argues that because Crosson agreed to bring any claim arising out of his employment “within six (6) months of the date of [his] termination or such adverse action, ” Employment Application at PageID.180, he was required to bring his retaliation claim by May 3, 2017 - six months after the date of his termination. Under Michigan law, “an unambiguous contractual provision providing for a shortened period of limitations is to be enforced as written unless the provision would violate law or public policy.” Rory v. Cont'l Ins. Co., 703 N.W.2d 23, 31 (Mich. 2005) (determining when the statute of limitations accrues for a discrimination claim). Crosson has put forth four reasons why the Court should nonetheless find that the statute of limitations has not run on his claim. The Court will address each in turn.

         A. ...

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