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J & J SHEET METAL WORKS v. PICARAZZI

May 18, 1992

J & J SHEET METAL WORKS, INC. Plaintiff,
v.
ANTHONY PICARAZZI, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOWARD G. MUNSON, SR.

 Presently before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The court heard oral argument on October 11, 1991 in Syracuse, New York. For the reasons stated below, the court grants defendant's motion.

 I. BACKGROUND

 This case arises out of three letters written by defendant Anthony Picarazzi, business manager for the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Local No. 112 ("Local 112"), located in Ithaca, New York. The subject of each of the letters was the ongoing renovation of the West Hill Fire Department in Ithaca, New York. Defendant addressed two of the letters to Egner Associates, the architects of the West Hill project, and the third letter to the City of Ithaca Purchasing Department ("the City"). He stated in each of the letters that the work being done by plaintiff, J & J Sheet Metal Works, Inc. ("J & J"), on the West Hill renovation was sub-par. The allegations were based on personal observations defendant made of the work site. Two of the letters, specifically the first letter sent to Egner Associates *fn1" and the letter sent to the City, *fn2" were written on Local 112 stationary and were signed by defendant in his capacity as business representative. Defendant styled his second letter to Egner Associates as a letter from a concerned taxpayer. *fn3"

 
A sheet metal journeyman is paid this wage because after 5 years of school and hands on training, he develops neatness, accuracy and speed through the following skills:
 
1. technical knowledge
 
2. hand skills
 
3. planning
 
4. judgement
 
J&J Sheetmetal of Vestal, N.Y. (a sub contractor of James Lewis Inc.), is performing the sheet metal work on this project.
 
After a job site visit on November 29, 1989, I have come to realize the men installing this project have none of the skills listed above. Holes are being knocked in new walls because of a lack of preplanning. The installation itself in my opinion could not have been performed by qualified sheet metal workers. It is the sloppiest installation I have seen in my 15-year career.
 
I can not understand how any customer, contractor or N.Y.S. can justify paying the installers of this project a sheetmetal worker's wage.

 Plaintiff's Complaint, at P5.

 The second cause of action for libel is based upon the following portion of defendant's December 5, 1989 letter to Egner Associates:

 
I personally have never seen such a blatant disrespect for knowledge and craftsmanship in the Sheet Metal Industry. I would not expect to find this many violations on a ten story ...

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