The opinion of the court was delivered by: Skretny, District Judge.
Now before this Court are the motions of defendants John
Sweeney ("Sweeney"), president of Service Employees
International Union ("International"), and Thomas Beatty
("Beatty"), president of Local 200-C of the International
("Local 200-C"), for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
56.*fn1 Additionally, Beatty moves for sanctions against the
plaintiff pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11.
Plaintiff Robert Laity ("Laity"), appearing pro se, has filed
a single opposition to the defendants' motions.
This Court has jurisdiction over Laity's lawsuit pursuant to
29 U.S.C. § 412.
This lawsuit stems primarily from Laity's suspension from his
position as a union Steward within Local 200-C. Laity alleges
that the defendants violated rights secured by three provisions
contained in Title I of the Labor-Management Reporting and
Disclosure Act of 1959 ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq.,
("Title I").*fn2 Laity alleges violations of Title I §§
101(a)(2), 101(a)(4) and 101(a)(5), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2),
411(a)(4) and 411(a)(5), respectively. Specifically, Laity
alleges that Local 200-C indefinitely suspended him from his
position as a Steward as retaliation for dissident expression
in violation of § 101(a)(2), that the defendants denied him a
prior hearing before suspending him in violation of §
101(a)(5), and that, apart from his suspension, the defendants
have attempted to restrict Laity's right to file an action with
an administrative agency in violation of § 101(a)(4). Laity
seeks reinstatement to his former Steward position and certain
Moving for summary judgment, defendants initially contend
that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Laity's
lawsuit, arguing that Laity is a public employee and therefore
beyond the LMRDA's coverage. Additionally, even if this Court
has subject matter jurisdiction, defendants argue that this
Court must dismiss Laity's lawsuit because Laity has failed to
show that any of the defendants' alleged conduct impaired his
membership rights within the union and that, therefore, he has
failed to allege any violation of rights secured by Title I.
Alternatively, Beatty argues that, even if Laity states a
cognizable Title I claim with respect to §§ 101(a)(4) & (5),
this Court must dismiss those claims because, essentially,
Local 200-C engaged in no conduct violative of those
provisions. Sweeney also argues that he is not properly a
defendant to this lawsuit.
In any event, defendants argue, Laity's suspension
justifiably resulted from his failure on two occasions to
attend a meeting requested by Local 200-C's president, and that
Laity's conduct amounted to insubordination.
In support of their motions,*fn3 the defendants have
submitted the following: the affidavit and supplemental
affidavit of Donald Mumm submitted by Sweeney ("Mumm aff.";
"Mumm Supp. aff."); Beatty's statement and supplemental
statement of material facts not in dispute ("Beatty fact",
"Beatty supp. fact"); Sweeney's statement and supplemental
statement of material facts not in dispute ("Sweeney fact",
"Sweeney's supp. fact"); the January 25, 1991 affidavit of
Thomas Beatty with exhibits ("Beatty"); Sweeney's first legal
memorandum and revised legal memorandum ("Sweeney memo.",
"Sweeney rev. memo."); and Beatty's revised legal memorandum
In opposition to the defendants' motions, Laity has submitted
a Notice of Motion ("Laity Notice"); a Supplemental Notice of
Motion with exhibits ("Laity Supp. Notice"); the affidavit of
Jane Pickering ("Pickering"); the affidavit of Ona Baton
("Baton"); and the affidavit of James Carney ("Carney"). Laity
has also filed an opposition to Beatty's motion for sanctions.
Conclusion: For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds
that it has subject matter jurisdiction over this lawsuit and
grants the defendants' motions for summary judgment in their
entirety. Additionally, this Court denies Beatty's motion for
The Following material facts are not in dispute.
At all relevant times, including the present, Laity has been
employed by the United States Veterans Administration and is a
member of the International, Local 200-C. Local 200-C
represents members employed in the private and public sectors.
Article VIII, Section I of Local 200-C's Constitution and
Bylaws authorizes the president of Local 200-C to ". . .
appoint a Shop Steward, or order a proper election for the Shop
Steward whenever he or she deems it necessary for the welfare
of the membership and the Local Union." (Beatty memo., p. 1).
A Steward is neither an officer nor an employee of Local
200-C. (Beatty fact, ¶ 3; Laity Supp. Notice, ¶¶ 19-20, 58).
The Steward's responsibilities include resolving problems
between union employees and the employer. (Mumm, ¶ 3; Beatty
fact, ¶ 3).
On April 24, 1990, Laity attended a general membership
meeting (the "April meeting") of the BVAMC. The parties,
however, have characterized Laity's conduct at the April 24
meeting differently. Defendants contend that at the April 24
meeting, Laity ". . . stood up and began to shout in a loud and
abusive manner, walked towards the Division's chief steward in
a threatening manner, making a vulgar remark to her." (Beatty
memo, p. 2; Beatty exh. A). Laity does not deny he used profane
language at the April meeting and argues that others at the
meeting used such language as well. (Laity Notice, ¶ 7; See,
Pickering, ¶ 10). Laity, however, vehemently denies making any
physical threats or hostile approaches toward anyone at the
April 24 meeting. (Laity Notice, ¶ 7; See, Pickering, ¶ 18;
Baton ¶ 25).
On April 27, 1990, by certified letter addressed to Laity,
Beatty requested a meeting with Laity. According to the letter,
this request stemmed from "complaints" prompting Beatty's
investigation of Laity's ". . . conduct . . ." at the April
meeting. (Beatty, exh. B; Laity Notice, ¶ 9). By letter dated
April 29, 1990 addressed to Beatty, Laity declined to attend a
meeting with Beatty to discuss Laity's conduct at the April
meeting. Laity expressed his belief that Beatty lacked
authority to compel his presence at such a meeting and that the
proper procedure for filing charges against a union member had
not been followed. (Beatty, exh. C; Laity Notice, ¶ 10). By
letter addressed to Laity dated May 1, 1990, Beatty informed
Laity that no formal charges had been filed against him and
renewed his request for a meeting with Laity. (Beatty, exh. D).
Laity did not attend this subsequently scheduled meeting.
On May 20, 1990, Local 200-C's Executive Board indefinitely
suspended Laity from his position as Steward. By certified
letter dated May 29, 1990, the Board notified Laity of the
suspension and informed him that the basis for the suspension
was Laity's ". . . conduct at the April 24, 1990 . . . meeting
. . . and [Laity's] subsequent refusal to meet with Local Union
President/Thomas Beatty to discuss the matter." (Laity Supp.
Notice, exh. F).
On May 25, 1990, Laity filed with the International charges
against Beatty alleging that Beatty had ". . . engaged in
conduct unbecoming of an officer." The source of these charges
were, inter alia, Beatty's handling of certain internal union
matters at the BVAMC and Laity's allegation that Beatty
engineered ". . . a campaign . . ." to ruin Laity's reputation.
(Laity Supp. Notice, exh. H).
On June 4, 1990, Laity filed with the International
additional charges against Beatty, the entire Local 200-C
Executive Board and its business representative alleging that
Laity was improperly suspended from his position as Steward
without a prior hearing in violation of the LMRDA. (Laity Supp.
Notice, exh. D).
In response to Laity's charges against Local 200-C and
Beatty, the International's Executive Board appointed one of
its members, Donald Mumm, to conduct a hearing and, by letter
dated July 24, 1991, noticed Laity of the hearing to be
conducted on August 9, 1990 ("the August hearing"). (Mumm Supp.
aff., exh. B). Mumm conducted the August hearing at which Laity
was present and testified.
On October 31, 1990, Mumm submitted his Findings of Fact,
Conclusions and Recommendations ("the report") to the
International's Executive Board (Beatty, exh. E).
The report concluded, inter alia, that the Local 200-C
Executive Board acted within its authority by suspending Laity
as a Steward. Since Local 200-C's constitution provided that
Stewards may be appointed by the Local 200-C president, the
found, they served only at the president's discretion. Thus,
the report further concluded, the authority to suspend a
Steward was ". . . inherent in the power to appoint." (Beatty,
exh. E, p. 7). The report found that Beatty, as president of
Local 200-C, had authority to request Laity's presence at a
meeting to discuss Laity's conduct and that ". . . failing to
respond to the Local President's request was insubordination by
an appointed representative of the Local. . . ." (Beatty, exh.
E, p. 13). Although Laity testified that he feared physical
reprisal if he attended the meeting with Beatty, Mumm found no
evidence that Laity ". . . had been subjected to any violent
behavior in the past or that Beatty was in any way prone to
commit violent acts." (Beatty, exh. E, p. 7). Finally, the
report concluded that, because Laity's suspension ". . . was a
matter of internal management of the Local's affairs . . ." and
the suspension did not infringe on Laity's right or status as
a union member, there was no reason for a hearing prior to
Laity's suspension. (Beatty, exh. E, pp. 12-13).*fn4
Therefore, the report ultimately upheld Local 200-C's
indefinite suspension of Laity as Steward.
In December, 1990 the International's Executive Board adopted
the report in its entirety. (Mumm Supp. aff., ¶ 5).
Since Local 200-C suspended Laity as Steward, Laity has
remained a regular member of Local 200-C. (Beatty, ¶ 9).
Subsequent to his suspension, Laity entered an election for the
position of Chief Steward but lost. (Beatty fact, ¶ 13; Laity
Supp. Notice, ¶ 65).
Thereafter, Laity filed an unfair labor practice charge
against Local 200-C and the International with the Federal
Labor Relations Authority ("FLRA") alleging that Local 200-C
violated the Labor-Management and Employee Relations Act, Title
VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (the "Act").
Specifically Laity charged that his suspension as Steward
violated 5 U.S.C. § 7116(b)(1), (b)(3) & (c). Laity also
argued that his suspension deprived him of due process in
violation of Local 200-C's Constitution and By-Laws.
After an investigation the Acting FLRA Regional Director
concluded that Local 200-C did not violate the Act by
suspending Laity as Steward and declined to issue a Complaint
against Local 200-C. (Beatty memo., exh. A, p. 2). The Acting
Regional Director concluded, upon review of all the evidence,
that Laity's exercise of statutorily protected activity was not
". . . a motivating factor . . ." prompting Laity's suspension.
The Acting Regional Director found that
. . for several months [Laity was] involved in
internal controversies over the Local Union's