Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

CBS, INC. v. SNYDER

July 29, 1992

In the Matter of the Application of CBS, INC., Petitioner, and of NEAL PILSON and TED SHAKER, Petitioners and Cross-Respondents - against - JAMES SNYDER, Respondent and Cross Petitioner. In the Matter of the Application of JAMES SNYDER, Third-Party Petitioner, - against - GENE JANKOWSKI, GEORGE VERAS, JAY ROSENSTEIN, BRENT MUSBURGER, PAT O'BRIEN, UNNAMED EMPLOYEES OF CBS, INC., WRC-TV, ED HOTALING, UNNAMED EMPLOYEES OF WRC-TV and the AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION, Third-Party Respondents, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS, Applicant for Intervention.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM C. CONNER

 CONNER, D.J.:

 This action was commenced in the Supreme Court of the State of New York on January 22, 1991 by petitioners, CBS Inc. ("CBS") and two of its managerial employees, Neal Pilson and Ted Shaker, seeking to stay arbitration proceedings initiated by James "Jimmy the Greek" Snyder pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between CBS and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists ("AFTRA"), the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting (the "National Code"). The arbitration arises out of CBS's January, 1988 termination of the employment of Snyder, a well-known football analyst and commentator on CBS's Sunday afternoon pre-game program "The NFL Today." Snyder presently moves the Court, pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (the "FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 4, to compel Pilson, Shaker, Gene Jankowski, George Veras, Jay Rosenstein, Pat O'Brien, Brent Musburger, unnamed employees of CBS (collectively the "CBS Respondents"), *fn1" WRC-TV, Ed Hotaling, and unnamed employees of WRC-TV (collectively the "WRC-TV Respondents") to participate in the arbitration, and to compel the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") to entertain that arbitration. The WRC-TV Respondents oppose that motion and move to dismiss the action against them pursuant to Rules 12(b)(2), (4), and/or (6), Fed. R. Civ. P., or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 56. Both the WRC-TV Respondents and the CBS Respondents move for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P. Also before the Court is AFTRA's motion to intervene in this proceeding pursuant to Rule 24(a)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P.

 BACKGROUND

 During an interview conducted on January 15, 1988 by Ed Hotaling, a reporter for WRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., Snyder made various remarks concerning the role of black athletes in sports. Snyder's comments were not in connection with his employment. Shortly after the interview was aired, CBS terminated Snyder's employment and issued several statements disassociating itself from his remarks. These statements were read on the air by broadcasters Pat O'Brien and Brent Musburger.

 Approximately three years after his termination, in January, 1991, Snyder served an arbitration demand on CBS, various former and present CBS employees, WRC-TV, and Hotaling. In his demand, Snyder asserted a number of tort claims including defamation, business disparagement, injurious falsehood, interference with contractual relations, and interference with economic advantage. He also alleged a breach of contract claim against CBS and Pilson, based on the network's failure to honor its alleged promise to exercise a one-year renewal option on Snyder's employment contract. All of these claims allegedly arose from the interview, CBS's subsequent decision not to renew Snyder's employment contract, and public statements CBS and CBS employees made regarding that decision.

  Shortly after the arbitration demand was served, on January 22, 1991, CBS, Pilson, and Shaker, petitioned in New York State Supreme Court to stay the arbitration, arguing, inter alia, that Snyder had not received permission from AFTRA to pursue his claims, *fn2" that certain claims were time-barred under New York law, and that Pilson and Shaker were not parties to any arbitration agreement with Snyder. On February 4, 1991, WRC-TV, Ed Hotaling and "unnamed employees" of WRC-TV filed a similar action in New York State Supreme Court. They likewise sought a stay because of Snyder's failure to secure AFTRA's endorsement on the demand and the untimeliness of certain of the claims under New York law. In addition, the WRC-TV Respondents asserted that none of them was a signatory to the National Code or to any other agreement to arbitrate any matter with Snyder; that the alleged conduct for which relief was sought in arbitration was not covered by the National Code; and that Snyder had failed to comply with a condition precedent to arbitration under Paragraph 95 of the National Code, requiring the designation of an arbitrator in the demand. Both special proceedings were removed to this Court.

 By letter dated March 7, 1991, the AAA dismissed Snyder's demand for arbitration as against all parties, save CBS, because there was no evidence of an agreement to arbitrate those claims. By letter dated March 27, 1991, Snyder protested the AAA's dismissal as "erroneous and premature." The WRC-TV Respondents thereafter filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 41(a)(1), on the ground that the AAA's dismissal had rendered moot their proceeding to stay arbitration.

 Following removal to this Court, CBS moved to remand this action to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) on the ground that Snyder's Notice of Removal was defective. AFTRA moved to intervene, seeking to stay arbitration against its members, Hotaling, Musburger, and O'Brien, and to compel arbitration of the timeliness issue. By Opinion and Order dated April 29, 1991, this Court denied CBS's motion to remand. On May 10, 1991, the Court granted AFTRA's motion to intervene in part, but reserved decision on AFTRA's motion to compel arbitration of the timeliness issue "until such time as this Court considers CBS's motion to stay arbitration." In particular, the Court held that AFTRA's argument in support of a stay of arbitration against individual AFTRA members was moot in light of the AAA's dismissal of Snyder's arbitration demand against them. CBS Inc. v. Snyder, 136 F.R.D. 364, 365 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. 1991).

 On April 2, 1992 Snyder filed the instant "Petition, Cross Petition and Motion to Compel Arbitration" directed against Pilson, Shaker, Jankowski, Veras, Rosenstein, *fn3" O'Brien, Musburger, unnamed employees of CBS, WRC-TV, Hotaling, and unnamed employees of WRC-TV. Snyder argues that Paragraphs 67 and 95 of the National Code afford him a basis for proceeding to arbitration against the CBS Respondents and that Paragraphs 19 and 31 of the AFTRA Code of Fair Practice For Washington Broadcasting (the "Washington Code") require the WRC-TV Respondents to arbitrate his dispute with them. CBS has conceded that it is required to arbitrate and, accordingly, has not been named by Snyder as a cross-respondent.

 DISCUSSION

 AFTRA's Motion to Intervene

 AFTRA seeks to intervene as a matter of right under Rule 24(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that:

 See generally Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Elec. Co., 922 F.2d 92, 96 (2d Cir. 1990); United States v. New York, 820 F.2d 554, 556 (2d Cir. 1987).

 Initially, the Court notes that it is undisputed that AFTRA's application to intervene is timely. As to the next requirement included in Rule 24(a)(2), AFTRA has demonstrated that it has a cognizable interest in the subject matter of this lawsuit. AFTRA is a national labor organization with more than thirty affiliated local unions throughout the United States. Decl. of Helayne Antler at P 4. It is the exclusive collective bargaining representative for more than 67,000 members who work in radio, television and related industries and, as such, the party responsible for the administration of the National and Washington Codes. Certainly, AFTRA has a legally protectible interest in participating in a proceeding, such as this one, which may affect the interpretation and/or enforceability of the arbitration provisions of these Codes. See CBS Inc. v. Snyder, 136 F.R.D. at 368; see also EEOC v. AT&T, 506 F.2d 735, 741-42 (3d Cir. 1974) (union should be permitted to intervene as party defendant to protect its interest in its collective bargaining agreements with AT&T); Vulcan Society of Westchester County, Inc. v. Fire Dept. of White Plains, 79 F.R.D. 437, 439-41 (S.D.N.Y. 1978) (unions permitted to intervene to protect their collective bargaining agreements and assure adequate hiring and promotion criteria).

 Furthermore, AFTRA's interest in administering and enforcing the collective bargaining agreements that it negotiated with the networks may be impaired by an unfavorable disposition of this action. AFTRA argues that the arbitration provisions in those Codes were intended to cover contractual disputes, arising under the relevant Code or an individual employment agreement, between either AFTRA and a signatory employer or between an individual AFTRA member and an employer. This view of the language, it contends, comports with the role of unions under federal labor law -- to bargain as exclusive employee representative with the employer over the terms and conditions of employment for the workforce as a whole. Should the Court be persuaded that those provisions contemplate the arbitration of disputes between AFTRA members, the scope of the agreement as AFTRA perceives it would be greatly expanded.

 Finally, AFTRA's interest in this case is not adequately represented by the parties already before this Court. The burden on AFTRA of making that showing "should be treated as minimal." New England Petroleum Corp. v. Federal Energy Admin., 71 F.R.D. 454, 458 (S.D.N.Y. 1976) (quoting Trbovich v. United Mine Workers, 404 U.S. 528, 538, 30 L. Ed. 2d 686, 92 S. Ct. 630 n. 10 (1972)). While the CBS Respondents and the WRC-TV Respondents also argue, in effect, that the National and Washington Codes do not require an individual AFTRA member to arbitrate the claims of another AFTRA member, no party is equipped to assert AFTRA's broad institutional interests as exclusive collective bargaining representative responsible for administering the National and Washington Codes on behalf of over 67,000 members. Unless AFTRA is permitted to intervene, its interest in ensuring that the National and Washington Codes are interpreted correctly will be substantially undermined. The Court accordingly grants AFTRA's motion to intervene as of right pursuant to Rule 24(a)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P.

 Motion to Compel Arbitration

 The Supreme Court has consistently recognized that the FAA "establishes a federal policy favoring arbitration." See Shearson/American Express, Inc. v. McMahon, 482 U.S. 220, 226, 96 L. Ed. 2d 185, 107 S. Ct. 2332 (1987). Thus, "'questions of arbitrability must be addressed with a healthy regard for the federal policy favoring arbitration. . . . Any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration . . . .'" Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626, 87 L. Ed. 2d 444, 105 S. Ct. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.