UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
July 30, 1974
Hana Heating And Air Conditioning Co., Inc., Plaintiff
Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Local Union No. 38, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRIEANT
Memorandum and Order
Defendant has moved pursuant to Rule 12(b) (6), F.R. Civ. P., for an order dismissing the complaint on the ground that the cause of action asserted therein has already been determined in an arbitration proceeding heretofore conducted between the parties. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.
On January 11, 1972 plaintiff contracted with a third party to furnish and install sheet metal as required at two construction projects in Westchester County, New York. The work at these two projects was to be performed by mechanics belonging to Local 38, according to the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement between Hana and Local #38.
According to the complaint, commencing on February 7, 1972, Local #38 violated the terms of Article X, Section 7, of the Agreement by directing its members not to work from drawings prepared by another local union, or install duct work fabricated by that union.
Both sides filed grievances concerning the dispute with a "Local Joint Adjustment Board for the Sheet Metal Industry" as contemplated by Article X, Section 2 of the Agreement.
However, the Local Joint Adjustment Board "deadlocked" and did not reach a final decision. Thereafter, Hana exercised its option under Article X, Section 3, and appealed for a Joint Adjustment Board Panel Hearing.
The Panel convened on May 30, 1972, and heard the joint grievances of Hana and Local #38. On August 2, 1972, the Panel issued a decision which provided in relevant part:
" Issue #1
It was a unanimous decision of both Panelist (sic) that Local Union #38 was in violation of Article X, Section 7, however, since no specific damages were requested and also due to other circumstances, both Panelist agreed that damages should not be awarded."
Neither party applied, either to the state or federal courts, to vacate, modify, or set aside the Panel's decision as provided for in New York CPLR § 7511(a) and 9 U.S.C. § 10.
By this action filed February 11, 1974, Hana now seeks to recover money damages allegedly caused by Local #38's work stoppages during February 1972. These same work stoppages, of course, were the subject of the Panel Hearing on May 30, 1972.
As the Panel decision indicates, Hana did not apply to the Local Joint Adjustment Board for money damages, but only sought equitable relief. (Letter from Hana to the Local Joint Adjustment Board dated February 14, 1972).
Perhaps, as Hana contends, the Panel exceeded its powers by reaching an issue not specifically tendered to the Local Board.
However, if Hana believed that the Panel's ruling on the damage issue was incorrect, or void, its sole remedy was to apply, within 90 days or 3 months of the decision, to the state or federal courts for relief. Dahlke v. X-L-O Automotive Accessories, Inc., 40 A.D. 2d 666, 337 N.Y.S. 2d 86 (1st Dep't 1972); Mole v. Queen Ins. Co. of America, 14 A.D. 2d 1, 217 N.Y.S. 2d 330 (4th Dep't 1961). See also, Island Territory of Curacao v. Solitron Devices, Inc., 356 F. Supp. 1, 12 (S.D.N.Y. 1973), aff'd 489 F.2d 1313 (2d Cir. 1973).
The principal purpose of arbitration is to "resolve disputes speedily and to avoid the expense and delay of extended court proceedings." Federal Commerce & Navigation Co. v. Kanematsu-Gosho, Ltd., 457 F.2d 387, 389 (2d Cir. 1972). This purpose would be frustrated if Hana were permitted to apply to this Court for money damages more than 18 months after the Arbitration Panel decided it was not entitled to such relief. This action is nothing more than a belated application to this Court to set aside or modify the terms of the Panel's decision which dealt with the same facts raised here. Whether state or federal law is applied, Hana's application is untimely.
The Panel's ruling is res judicata of the issues raised by Hana's complaint, and is immune from collateral attack in this manner.
Defendant's motion is granted, and the complaint is dismissed.