decision that best serves the goals which underlie the federal right of action itself." Id. at 677. The court reasoned that a federal court in deciding survivorship must strive to implement the will of Congress. See id. The Court identified deterrence as the goal underlying union member suits under section 201. See id. The court reasoned that the rights inhering in Title II--the right of union member access to full information concerning union financial and administrative practices and procedures--were rights shared equally by all union members, and thus enforceable by any of the union members. See id. at 677-78. Therefore, the court noted, the identity of the particular plaintiff suing under section 201 was of no import, as the same duty was owed by the union to all of its members. See id. at 678. Accordingly, the court permitted substitution of other union members as plaintiffs. See id. at 679.
In enacting Title I, Congress intended "to curb the autocratic rule of some union leaders by assuring union members of equal rights to participate in union affairs and the rights to speech and assembly and by preventing suppression of these rights through abuse of the union's disciplinary powers." Rosario v. Amalgamated Ladies Garment Cutters' Union, Local 10, I.L.G.W.U., 605 F.2d 1228, 1239 (2d Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 919 (1980). In the Court's view, such purpose is furthered through survivorship of Diduck's claim brought pursuant to section 102 of the LMRDA.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a) provides for substitution of proper parties by the court when a party dies and his claim survives his death. The Court grants plaintiffs' motion to so substitute Edward T. Markunas in place of the deceased Harry Diduck.
II. Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs
Plaintiffs contend that they are entitled to attorneys' fees and costs
under the common benefit doctrine. Defendant asserts that attorneys' fees are not justified under a common benefit theory since plaintiffs were not prevailing parties,
and moreover, failed to render a substantial benefit to the membership of the international union through their prosecution of the instant suit.
The common benefit doctrine is an equitable exception to the prohibition against the shifting of attorneys' fees. See Boeing Co. v. Van Gemert, 444 U.S. 472, 478, 62 L. Ed. 2d 676, 100 S. Ct. 745 (1980). It has its origins in the common fund theory, a device whereby courts permitted the creator of a common fund to seek reimbursement for his attorneys' fees from the beneficiaries who participated in the proceeds of the fund without contributing to the cost of the litigation. See id. The common fund doctrine, the purpose of which was to prevent the unjust enrichment which would result from the participation in the proceeds of a fund by persons who did not incur litigation costs, may thus be characterized as a restitutionary rule. See id.
In Mills v. Electric Auto-Lite Co., 396 U.S. 375, 24 L. Ed. 2d 593, 90 S. Ct. 616 (1970), the United States Supreme Court extended this rationale to allow fee-shifting where a suit vindicated a common interest through the conferral of a benefit, as opposed to the preservation, increase, or procurement of a fund. See Hall v. Cole, 412 U.S. 1, 5-6 n.7, 36 L. Ed. 2d 702, 93 S. Ct. 1943 (1973). The plaintiffs in Mills, sued under section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to establish the liability of the defendant corporation for an unlawful merger.
The Mills Court held that attorneys' fees were recoverable by the prevailing plaintiffs "where the litigation has conferred a substantial benefit on the members of an ascertainable class, and where the court's jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit makes possible an award that will operate to spread the costs proportionately among them." Mills, 396 U.S. at 393-94.
In Hall v. Cole, 412 U.S. 1, 36 L. Ed. 2d 702, 93 S. Ct. 1943, the United States Supreme Court expressly sanctioned use of the common benefit doctrine in suits brought pursuant to section 102 of the LMRDA. See id. at 9. The plaintiff in Hall was expelled from the union due to an alleged violation of a union rule prohibiting "deliberate or malicious vilification with regard to the execution or the duties of any office or job." Id. at 3. The district court made a finding that the plaintiff's free speech rights delineated in section 101(a)(2) of the LMRDA had been infringed, and accordingly, ordered the plaintiff permanently reinstated and awarded attorneys' fees, although denying plaintiff's damages claims. See id. The Supreme Court affirmed the award of attorneys' fees, reasoning that
When a union member is disciplined for the exercise of any of the rights protected by Title I, the rights of all members of the union are threatened. And, by vindicating his own right, the successful litigant dispels the 'chill' cast upon the right of others. Indeed, to the extent that such lawsuits contribute to the preservation of union democracy, they frequently prove beneficial "not only in the immediate impact of the results achieved but in their implications for the future conduct of the union's affairs." (quoting Yablonski v. United Mine Workers of America, 151 U.S. App. D.C. 253, 466 F.2d 424, 431 (D.C. Cir. 1972)).
Id. at 8.
A. Claims of Rodonich, Chotowicky, and Lawro
Plaintiffs Rodonich, Chotowicky, and Lawro did not prevail on their scheme to suppress claims against LIUNA, and accordingly, are not entitled to attorneys' fees under Hall. As the Ninth Circuit in Ackley v. Western Conference of Teamsters, 958 F.2d 1463 (9th Cir. 1992), held:
No fee-shifting is necessary, however, when a union successfully defends against a member's claim for relief under the LMRDA, because the dues-paying union members, who are the beneficiaries of the litigation, are already bearing the cost. Were plaintiffs to be assessed attorneys' fees, the costs would be shifted away from the common beneficiaries.