This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C6-96-2222

Michael J. Pazos,

Appellant,

vs.

International Union of Operating Engineers,

Local #49 of Minnesota, et al.,

Respondents,

JAC Association of Employers,

Defendants,

Associated General Contractors of Minnesota,

Respondent,

Mr. James K. Bowers d/b/a Intex Crushers,

Respondent,

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry,

Respondent.

Filed August 19, 1997

Affirmed

Willis, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 95348

Robert D. Mehus, 530 Peavey Building, 730 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for Appellant)

Willard L. Converse, James C. Erickson, 1500 Minnesota World Trade Center, 30 East Fifth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Minnesota Operating Engineers Joint Apprenticeship Committee)

Phyllis Karasov, 1400 Norwest Center, 55 East Fifth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Associated General Contractors of Minnesota)

Joseph W. Lawver, 1800 Fifth Street Towers, 150 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for Respondent Bowers d/b/a Intex Crushers)

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, Susan C. Gretz, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for Respondent Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry)

Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N

WILLIS, Judge

Appellant Michael Pazos challenges the district court's dismissal of his complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, arguing that (1) Chapter 178 of Minnesota Statutes (the apprenticeship act) creates a private cause of action, (2) the district court was not preempted by the apprenticeship act from granting common law remedies, and (3) in reviewing de novo the decision of the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry (the commissioner), the district court was not limited to the remedies available to the commissioner. We affirm.

FACTS

Chapter 178 of Minnesota Statutes establishes a voluntary apprenticeship program. In 1989, the director of the state apprenticeship program approved the agreement between Pazos and the Minnesota Operating Engineers Joint Apprenticeship Committee (JAC) for his apprenticeship in universal equipment operation. Pazos worked during his apprenticeship for Intex Crushers, a rock-crushing business. Intex trained Pazos on all the equipment they owned, but not on all the equipment that was required for completion of his apprenticeship.

In December 1993, Pazos requested that the director investigate the failure to train him on all required equipment as a violation of his apprenticeship agreement. The director found that Pazos, Intex, and JAC were jointly responsible for violating the apprenticeship agreement by failing to train Pazos on all required equipment. Pazos appealed the director's determination to the commissioner. The commissioner appointed a panel to hear the appeal, which determined that Pazos was not responsible for the omissions in his training. The commissioner adopted the panel's recommendations and (1) put JAC's apprenticeship program on probation, (2) allowed Pazos to return to the apprenticeship program under the terms of his original agreement with JAC, and (3) concluded that he had no authority to grant Pazos relief in the form of monetary damages.

Pazos appealed the commissioner's order to the district court, adding the Department of Labor and Industry (the department) as a defendant and alleging statutory violations and common law contract violations. Respondents moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, or alternatively, summary judgment. The district court dismissed Pazos's complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that (1) the apprenticeship act does not provide a private cause of action; (2) the department was not party to a contract with Pazos; and (3) on appeal from the commissioner's determination, the district court had no authority to go beyond the statutory relief the commissioner was authorized to grant. This appeal followed.

D E C I S I O N

In reviewing a case dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, an appellate court determines whether the complaint sets forth a legally sufficient claim for relief. Elzie v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 298 N.W.2d 29, 32 (Minn. 1980). A claim is legally sufficient if

it is possible on any evidence which might be produced, consistent with the pleader's theory, to grant the relief demanded.

Northern States Power Co. v. Franklin, 265 Minn. 391, 395, 122 N.W.2d 26, 29 (1963).

1. Private Cause of Action.

Pazos argues that the district court erred in concluding that no private cause of action is created by the apprenticeship act. A statute gives rise to a private cause of action if it explicitly grants or clearly implies a private cause of action. Valtakis v. Putnam, 504 N.W.2d 264, 266 (Minn. App. 1993). The apprenticeship act does not expressly provide a private cause of action. Minn. Stat. §§ 178.01-.10 (1996). Factors to consider in determining whether a statute implies a private cause of action are (1) whether the plaintiff is part of a special class for whose benefit the statute was enacted, (2) whether the legislature intended there to be a private remedy, and (3) whether it is consistent with the purposes of the legislative scheme to imply a private remedy. Counties of Blue Earth v. Department of Labor, 489 N.W.2d 265, 268 (Minn. App. 1992).

Although Pazos is part of a class that benefits from the statute, he must also show that the statute was drafted with an unmistakable focus on those in his class to establish that he is part of a special class for whose benefit it was enacted. See Hofbauer v. Northwestern Nat'l Bank of Rochester, 700 F.2d 1197, 1200 (8th Cir. 1983) (concluding that because plaintiffs were not sole beneficiaries of a statute, they were not part of special class for whose benefit statute was enacted). Because the apprenticeship act was enacted to benefit both apprentices and employers, Pazos cannot show that he is part of a special class for whose sole benefit it was enacted. See Minn. Stat. §§ 178.01-.10.

In Counties of Blue Earth, the statute at issue provided administrative remedies. 489 N.W.2d at 267. This court concluded that the existence of administrative remedies indicated that the legislature did not intend the statute to imply a private cause of action. Id. at 268; see also National R.R. Passenger Co. v. Passengers Ass'n., 414 U.S. 453, 459, 94 S. Ct. 690, 693 (1974) (stating principle of statutory construction that where statute provides remedy, court should not imply additional remedies). The statute here provides administrative remedies in the event of a grievance. Minn. Stat. § 178.09 (1996).

The apprenticeship act sets forth in detail the procedure to be followed in determining apprenticeship agreement controversies. Id.; see also Minn. Stat. § 178.01 (setting forth purposes of act). In light of these provisions, to imply a private cause of action is not consistent with the legislative scheme. Further, the availability of a private cause of action may frustrate the purposes of the apprenticeship program by causing the state and parties to apprenticeship agreements to act to avoid litigation rather than in furtherance of the goals of the program. See Flour Exch. Bldg. Corp. v. State, 524 N.W.2d 496, 500 (Minn. App. 1994) (concluding that existence of private cause of action may result in state acting to avoid threat of litigation rather than to further legislative scheme), review denied (Minn. Feb. 14, 1995).

Pazos argues that because the statute imposes duties on the department, the legislature intended that there would be a private cause of action, and a private cause of action is consistent with the legislative scheme. However, the mere fact that a statute creates duties does not mandate implying a private cause of action. See Funchie v. Packaging Corp. of Am., 494 F. Supp. 662, 666-67 (D. Minn. 1980) (finding that statute imposed duties on Secretary of Labor, but concluding that no private cause of action was implied). The district court did not err in concluding that the apprenticeship act does not create a private cause of action.

2. Remedies.

Pazos argues that common law breach of contract remedies should be available to him in this action because the apprenticeship act does not alter or limit those remedies, citing Morris v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 386 N.W.2d 233, 237-38 (Minn. 1986) (recognizing that "statutes are presumed not to alter or modify the common law unless they expressly so provide").

The district court did not find, however, that common law remedies were altered by the apprenticeship act. It merely found that it had no authority, on appeal from the determination of the commissioner, to grant relief that the commissioner had no authority to grant. The statute gives the commissioner no authority to grant money damages; the district court properly concluded, therefore, that it had no authority to grant money damages.

3. Trial De Novo.

Pazos argues that because the statute provides that the commissioner's decision may be appealed to the district court and tried de novo, the district court must conduct "more than a review" of the decision and is not limited to those remedies that were available to the commissioner. See Minn. Stat. § 178.09, subd. 2.

The district court relied on St. Paul Cos. v. Hatch, 449 N.W.2d 130 (Minn. 1989), in determining the scope of review for a trial de novo:

[T]he role of the district court is to review the agency's findings, inferences, conclusions, and decision to determine if they are supported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted and as it may be supplemented by additional evidence received by the district court. The district court further reviews the decision to determine if it otherwise conforms to the law. The court may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision. The court may also remand the case to the commissioner for further proceedings.

Id. at 138.

Pazos argues that the district court's reliance on Hatch is misplaced because in that case, the commissioner's duties were essentially executive, whereas here, the commissioner's duties are essentially judicial. However, the Hatch court examined the nature of the commissioner's duties to determine whether there was a constitutional separation of powers problem with a statutory provision for trial de novo. Id. at 131. Here, there is no issue of judicial usurpation of an executive function, so the question of the judicial or executive nature of the commissioner's duties is not relevant.

The existence of the trial de novo provision does not authorize the district court to grant relief on appeal that the commissioner could not grant. See Howell v. County of Martin, 406 N.W.2d 524, 525 (Minn. 1987) (concluding that even though district court retries issues in trial de novo, legal rules used in resolving issues do not change).

Affirmed.