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ANDERSON v. LOCAL UNION NO. 3

March 12, 1984

SHELLY ANDERSON, WILFRED BOUDREAUX, JAMES BRITT, JOHN CARROLL, RUSSELL FOOTMAN, WAVERLY GREEN, GRAYDON GRIFFITH, LAWRENCE HAWKINS, FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, HERBERT HOLMES, HENRY INGRAM, CLARENCE LAMAR, WILLIAM MOODY, JAMES PARROTT, JAMES PERRY, JAMES PETTIGREW, GEORGE SHARPE, SR., KENNETH WILLIAMS, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN CENTER, INC. and MADISON SQUARE GARDEN CORPORATION, Plaintiffs, against LOCAL UNION NO. 3, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAND

LEONARD B. SAND, U.S.D.J.

This proceeding is the latest round in the protracted litigation arising from Ingram v. Madison Square Garden, Inc., 76 Civ. 5870 and Anderson v. Madison Square Garden, Inc., 78 Civ. 1453. In this action, plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment *fn1" that they are not liable to defendant Local Union No. 3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("Local 3") for contribution, indemnification or otherwise in connection with a judgment entered against Local 3 in the above named actions. Contending that there is no factual question to be tried, plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Cvi.P. 56. For the reasons stated herein, plaintiffs' motion is granted.

 FACTS

 A full account of the facts giving rise to this action may be found in several of this Court's prior Opinions. Ingram v. Madison Square Garden Center, Inc., 482 F. Supp. 414, 482 F. Supp. 918 (S.D.N.Y. 1979), 535 F. Supp. 1082 (S.D.N.Y. 1982), aff'd as modified, 709 F.2d 807 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 937, 104 S. Ct. 346, 78 L. Ed. 2d 313 (1983). See also Ingram v. Madison Square Garden Center, Inc., 482 F. Supp. 426 (S.D.N.Y. 1979), (collectively "the antecedent litigation").

 Stated briefly, the antecedent litigation involved suit by the class of all black and hispanic persons who were or would in the future be employed as cleaners at Madison Square Garden ("the antecedent plaintiffs"). Named as defendants were Madison Square Garden Center, Inc. and Madison Square Garden Corporation (hereinafter jointly referred to as "the Garden"), plaintiffs in this action, *fn2" Local 3, the defendant herein, and other entities. The antecedent plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had engaged in a pattern of hiring and employment practices which made it impossible for members of the plaintiff class to secure higher paying and more desirable positions as laborers at Madison Square Garden, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq., and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1871, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1985.

 Prior to trial, all of the defendants in the antecedent cases except Local 3 entered into a consent decree, which was approved by the Court. Ingram v. Madison Square Garden Center, Inc., 482 F. Supp. 426 (S.D.N.Y.) 1979). Pursuant to the consent decree, the settling defendants agreed to a wide spectrum of remedial measures, including immediate hiring of class members, employment goals for minorities, mechanisms for minorities to obtain positions as laborers, monetary awards, and attorneys' fees. In return, the antecedent plaintiffs withdrew their claims against the settling defendnats with prejudice and agreed to indemnify them from any claims by Local 3 seeking contribution or indemnification.

 Subsequently, a trial was held against Local 3, with respect to the union's alleged violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and § 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The record disclosed that the union participated in the Garden's hiring decisions in the following way. When a vacancy occurred in the Garden's permanent laborer work force, the Garden would notify Local 3. The union would then select and refer an applicant to the Garden superintendent. Although the Garden was free to reject applicants referred to it by the union, it would not hire anyone who had not been given a "union slip." 482 F. Supp. at 420.

 This Court found that Local 3 engaged in a referral policy that was "subjective and standardless," under which the primary qualification appeared to be personal acquaintance with a union official. Id. Moreoever, when minorities sought information from Local 3 as to how to become a laborer, they were ignored, given evasive answers, or simply a general "run-around." Id. at 421. These and other practices, we held, established that the union had directly and purposely participated in violations of the antecedent plaintiffs' civil rights. Id. at 420-21, 535 F. Supp. at 1087. Accordingly, this Court entered judgment against Local 3 for injunctive and monetary relief. In doing so, we specifically accounted for the payments received by the plaintiffs from the settling defendants, and reduced Local 3's liability accordingly. 535 F. Supp. at 1095. On appeal, the Second Circuit modified the injunctive relief awarded against Local 3, and reduced or eliminated various items of monetary damages. Ingram v. Madison Square Garden Center, Inc., 709 F.2d 807 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 937, 104 S. Ct. 346, 78 L. Ed. 2d 313 (1983).

 The plaintiffs herein, settling defendants in the antecedent cases, then brought this action, seeking a declaratory judgment that they are not liable to Local 3 for contribution or indemnification in connection with the judgment entered against Local 3. In its answer in this action, defendant has asserted that it is entitled to such relief.

 Discussion

 At the outset, we believe it appropriate to address the question of what law governs determination of this case. Plaintiff, while not specifically advocating that state law is applicable, has nonetheless cited New York authorities in its brief. We agree with defendant that New York law does not control this case, although it may, of course, have persuasive effect. The question of whether contribution and indemnity are available under the federal civil rights laws should be governed by federal law. It would be anomalous if the availability of these remedies, as among defendants, varied according to the happenstance of the forum state in which the plaintiff brought the underlying action.

 We begin with the undoubted proposition that Local 3 is estopped to deny its own intentionally wrongful conduct by virute of the prior judgment of this Court. The question of the Garden's liability has never been adjudicated. *fn3" The defendant contends that it acted as the plaintiff's agent with respect to the hiring practices in which it participated and that, under principles of agency law, the Garden is thereby "primarily responsible" for the union's discriminatory conduct. We shall first address the merits of the contention that an agency relationship existed between the plaintiff and defendant.

 The employment referral practices between the Garden and Local 3, without more, do not establish an agency relationship between these two entities. This point is conclusively established by General Building Contractors Ass'n, Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 458 U.S. 375, 73 L. Ed. 2d 835, 102 S. Ct. 3141 (1982). In that case, the Supreme Court held that an employees' § 1981 claim against his employer could not be predicated exclusively upon the discriminatory acts of his union. There, as here, the union exercised effective control over who was eligible for certain positions by operation of a "hiring hall" referral system. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court held that no agency relationship existed between the employers and the union.The core of the agency relationship, the Court noted, is a "fiduciary relation" arising from the "consent by one person to another than the other shall act on his behalf and subject to his control". Id. at 393, quoting Restatement (Second) of Agency § 1 (1958). These elements were not supplied by the mere power of employers to oppose union discrimination. Moreover, the Court observed, as a general proposition, the contention that a union could act as an agent of the employers of its members "is alien to the fundamental assumptions upon which the federal labor laws are structured." Id. at 393.

 Seeking to avoid the force of these observations, Local 3 in this action has alleged first, that it was an "employment agency" of the Garden under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(c) and, second, that the Garden actively "authorized, directed, and ratified" the discriminatory actions of Local 3. (Defendant's "3(g) Statement" PP3,4,7,8, and 23). We find these legal *fn4" and factual *fn5" contentions highly dubious, but even if we are to accept them, they would only constitute a basis for establishing the Garden's liability to the plaintiffs in antecedent ...


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