Adams v. Pacific Bell Directory, 111 Cal. App. 4th 93 (2003)

Forty-two employees of Pacific Bell Directory (all of whom were members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) filed a lawsuit alleging that the company’s practice of debiting employees’ commissions was unlawful under Labor Code Section 221 and Business and Professions Code Section 17200. The employer promptly removed the action to federal court and moved to dismiss it on the ground that the claims were preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C. § 185) (LMRA). The district court granted the motion to dismiss, but the Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal, holding that the employees’ claims were not preempted and remanded the action back to state court. In state court, the employer once again argued that the claims were preempted under the LMRA, and the trial court agreed, granting the employer’s motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the Ninth Circuit’s opinion constituted “the law of the case” and refusing to “endorse the incongruous conclusion that neither the federal nor the state court had jurisdiction to decide the controversy.”