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TREROTOLA v. LOCAL 72 OF THE INT'L BHD. OF TEAMSTE

March 20, 1997

VINCENT TREROTOLA, Plaintiff, against LOCAL 72 OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS and LOCAL 858 OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: EDELSTEIN

 EDELSTEIN, District Judge :

 Presently before this Court are cross-motions for summary judgment. For the following reasons, both motions are denied without prejudice.

 BACKGROUND

 This case involves a claim by plaintiff Vincent Trerotola ("plaintiff" of "Trerotola"), the former principal officer and Secretary-Treasurer of Locals 72 and 858 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("Local 72" and "Local 858") ("the Locals"), for benefits allegedly owed to him under two pensions plans controlled by the Locals. (Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion For Summary Judgment and/or in Support of Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, Trerotola v. Local 72 of the Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 96 Civ. 0555 ("Dfts. Memo") at 3 (Mar. 21, 1996).) In addition to his positions as principal officer and Secretary-Treasurer of the Locals, plaintiff was also a salaried IBT representative from 1972 until August 1990, a salaried Administrative Assistant to the Chairman of the Eastern Conference of Teamsters (the "Eastern Conference") from 1971 until December 1993, and a salaried Office Manager of Joint Council 16 in New York City from 1969 until 1993. Id.

 On December 8, 1994, the Independent Review Board for the IBT ("IRB") referred charges against plaintiff to IBT General president Ronald Carey ("Carey"). Id. at 4. The IRB determined that the evidence obtained through an investigation of plaintiff supported charges that he had breached his fiduciary duty to the Locals by embezzling money from them, as well as from Joint Council 16 and the Eastern Conference. Id. Moreover, the IRB found that plaintiff's embezzlement brought reproach upon the IBT in violation of Article II, Section 2(a) and Article XIX, Section 7(b)(1), (2) and (3) of the IBT Constitution. Id. Specifically, the IRB determined that plaintiff had caused the Locals to pay him excess salary in the form of reimbursements for FICA payroll deductions without disclosure to the Locals' members or approval from the Locals' Executive Boards, and without informing them that plaintiff had received FICA reimbursements from the IBT. Id. The IRB found that plaintiff's scheme resulted in his embezzling $ 11, 889.31 from Local 72, and $ 19,304.19 from Local 858. Id.

 Under the terms of the Consent Decree, the IRB's recommended charges against plaintiff were referred to General President Carey for further action. Id. at 6-7. Pursuant to Article XIX of the IBT Constitution, Carey appointed a hearing panel to hear the charges. Id. at 7. A hearing was held on March 2, 1995, and on July 29, 1995, the panel issued its findings and recommendations regarding the charges. Id. On the basis of the hearing evidence, including plaintiff's own testimony, the panel concluded "that Trerotola acted with the fraudulent intent to embezzle monies from[,] and breached his fiduciary duties to[,] Locals 72 and 858." Id. The panel's recommendations included the following terms: (1) that plaintiff be suspended from membership and his positions in the Locals for twelve months; (2) that plaintiff reimburse Local 72 $ 11,889.31 and Local 858 $ 19,304.19; and (3) that plaintiff repay any of his legal fees which were paid by either Local in connection with the IRB investigation, if any. Id.

 Upon reviewing the panel's findings and recommendations, Carey concurred with most of them. Id. at 7-8. However, Carey found that a one-year suspension was insufficient, and thus increased plaintiff's suspension to two years. Id. at 8. The IRB affirmed the sanctions imposed by Carey, and further determined that plaintiff's embezzlement scheme extended to monies he received from Joint Council 16 and the Eastern Conference. Id.

 Following plaintiff's removal as Local 72's principal officer and Secretary-Treasurer, the General President placed Local 72 in trusteeship and appointed Joseph Padellaro ("Padellaro") as its Temporary Trustee. Id. As part of his authority under the IBT Constitution "to take full charge of the affairs" of Local 72, Padellaro conducted a complete review of the Local's finances, including hiring an independent auditor to investigate the Local. Id. That investigation revealed that plaintiff caused Local 72 to pay $ 18,580.27 toward plaintiff's legal fees incurred during the IRB investigation. Id. at 8-9. The auditor's investigation further uncovered a scheme by plaintiff to cause Local 72 to pay as much as 90% towards the purchase price of automobiles for plaintiff's benefits. Id. at 9. Plaintiff's scheme, which he perpetrated from 1986 to 1994, was to structure Local 72's car leases with unusually large monthly lease payments. Id. While such lease payments are fiscally sound if the lessee intends to purchase the car at the end of the lease term, Local 72 never exercised its purchase option on any of the cars it leased. Id. Instead, on at least three separate occasions, plaintiff personally exercised Local 72's purchase option without the approval of the Executive Board or general membership, and without paying Local 72 for the option. Id. The effect of this scheme was that Local 72 subsidized a steady supply of cars--high-end automobiles, such as a 1986 Mercury Cougar, a 1993 Lincoln Town Car, and a 1993 Mercury Cougar XR7--for plaintiff's personal use. Id. at 9-11.

 DISCUSSION

 Before considering the merits of the parties' respective motions for summary judgment, this Court will set forth the standard governing those motions.

 I. Summary Judgment Standard

 Pursuant to Rule 56, summary judgement is appropriate where "the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S. Ct. 1598, 1609, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1970). The movant may discharge this burden by demonstrating to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case on an issue which that party would have the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). As the Second Circuit has noted, "it has long been the rule that on summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from ...


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