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U.S. v. INTERNATIONAL BROTH. OF TEAMSTERS

October 14, 1999

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFFS,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edelstein, District Judge.

OPINION & ORDER

This opinion emanates from the voluntary settlement of an action commenced by the United States of America against, inter alia, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("IBT" or "the union") and the IBT's General Executive Board ("GEB"). The settlement is embodied in the voluntary consent order entered March 14, 1989 ("Consent Decree"). The goals of the Consent Decree are to rid the IBT of the hideous influence of organized crime and establish a culture of democracy within the union. The long history of this case has been set forth in this Court's numerous prior opinions. Accordingly, only those facts necessary for resolving the instant matter shall be set forth.

In the instant motion, brought pursuant to this Court's decision in United States v. IBT ("All Writs Order"), 728 F. Supp. 1032 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 907 F.2d 277 (2d Cir. 1990), the Government seeks to enjoin Daniel D. Slemko ("Slemko"), a member of IBT Local 362 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, from pursuing a civil action entitled Slemko v. IBT et al., Action No. 9901-12970/1999 (the "Slemko Action"), filed in the Court of Queens Bench of Alberta, Judicial District of Calgary, in any jurisdiction except this Court.

BACKGROUND

On February 16, 1999, the Independent Review Board ("IRB") referred an Investigative Report to the IBT proposing disciplinary charges against Slemko. See Memorandum of Law in Supp. of Government's Mot. for Injunctive Relief (September 14, 1999) ("Government's Mem.") at 5; Declaration of Andrew W. Schilling ("Schilling Decl.") at Ex. C. Specifically, the IRB recommended that the IBT charge Slemko with violating the rules governing the 1996 IBT election ("Election Rules") and bringing reproach upon the IBT by engaging in a scheme to collect, mark, and mail ballots of other IBT members during the 1996 IBT rerun election. See Government's Mem. at 5; Schilling Decl. at Ex. C. In a letter dated February 22, 1999, the IBT notified the IRB that the IBT adopted and filed the proposed charges against Slemko. See Government's Mem. at 5-6; Schilling Decl. at Ex. D. On April 19, 1999, the General Secretary-Treasurer of the IBT referred the charges against Slemko to Teamsters Joint Council 90 in Calgary ("Joint Council 90") for a hearing. See Government's Mem. at 6; Schilling Decl. at Ex. E.

On May 14, 1999, Slemko received notice from Joint Council 90 of the charges pending against him and of a hearing that would be held on June 3, 1999. See Schilling Decl. at Ex. F (citing Statement of Claim of Slemko in the Slemko Action). Joint Council 90 informed Slemko on June 2, 1999 that the hearing scheduled for June 3, 1999 had been postponed and that they would notify him of a new hearing date. See id. On July 14, 1999, Joint Council 90 advised Slemko that the hearing would be conducted on August 19, 1999. See id.

On August 13, 1999, six days prior to the rescheduled hearing, Slemko commenced the Slemko Action, naming the IRB and Election Officer Michael G. Cherkasky ("Election Officer") as defendants. See Government's Mem. at 6; Schilling Decl. at Ex. F. Slemko challenges the jurisdiction of Joint Council 90, the IBT, and the IRB to pursue further disciplinary charges against him, alleging that the defendants failed to conclude their disciplinary proceedings within ninety days of the IRB's referral of the proposed charges against Slemko, in contravention of the Consent Decree and the approved Rules and Procedures for the Operation of the IRB ("IRB Rules"). See Government's Mem. at 6; Schilling Decl. at Ex. F.; see also Consent Decree at ¶ G(e); IRB Rules at ¶ I(6). Inter alia, Slemko seeks monetary relief and equitable relief in the form of an order enjoining defendants from pursuing further disciplinary proceedings against him. See Government's Mem. at 6; Schilling Decl. at Ex. F. On the same day, August 13, 1999, Slemko also filed a motion in the Canadian court requesting interlocutory injunctions preventing (1) Joint Council 90 from proceeding with the disciplinary hearing against him scheduled for August 19, 1999 and (2) the IBT and the IRB from going forward with any disciplinary measures against him. See Governments' Mem. at 7; Schilling Decl. at Ex. H. The disciplinary hearing and the hearing on Slemko's motion were adjourned. See Governments' Mem. at 7. On August 16, 1999, the Canadian court ordered all defendants served outside the jurisdiction of the Canadian court to file a "Statement of Defence or a demand of notice" within forty days of service of Slemko's complaint. See Government's Mem. at 7; Schilling Decl. at Ex. G.

One week after Slemko filed his lawsuit in Canada, on August 23, 1999, the Government attempted to secure from Slemko a voluntary discontinuance of the Slemko Action. See Government's Mem. at 7;Schilling Decl. at Ex. J. The Government wrote Slemko's attorney, advising him that Slemko's initiation and continued prosecution of the Slemko Action violated the All Writs Order and requesting that Slemko discontinue the suit immediately. See Government's Mem. at 7; Schilling Decl. at Ex. J. The letter also informed Slemko's counsel that if Slemko did not withdraw his suit by August 30, 1999, the Government would seek an order from this Court enjoining Slemko from continuing with the action. See Government's Mem. at 7-8; Shilling Decl. at Ex. J.

On August 31, 1999, Slemko's counsel advised the Government that Slemko had not withdrawn his suit. See Schilling Decl. at ¶ 18. In a letter dated September 1, 1999, the Government informed Slemko's attorney that because Slemko did not withdraw the Slemko Action by August 30, 1999 and because there was no indication that Slemko would discontinue his action in the immediate future, the Government intended to seek equitable relief from this Court. See Government's Mem. at 8; Schilling Decl. at Ex. K. In that letter, the Government also asked that Slemko's counsel advise the Government if Slemko's position changed. See Government's Mem. at 8; Schilling Decl. at Ex. K. To date, neither Slemko nor his attorney has contacted the Government stating an intention to withdraw the Slemko Action.

Thus, because Slemko ignored the Government's repeated requests to discontinue the Slemko Action voluntarily, on September 14, 1999 the Government filed a motion asking this Court to enjoin Slemko from prosecuting the Slemko Action in any court or forum other than this Court and directing Slemko to withdraw that action immediately pursuant to the All Writs Order, the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, and this Court's inherent equity powers. Slemko never filed opposition papers with this Court, and in fact, his attorney informed this Court on October 4, 1999, by letter via facsimile, that Slemko "must let this application by the United States of America go by default." Letter from G. Neil McDermid to Judge David N. Edelstein of 4/4/99.

Discussion

Slemko's filing of his action in Canada violates the All Writs Order. Furthermore, this Court has jurisdiction over Slemko to enforce the All Writs Order against him.

A. The All Writs Order

It is well settled that under the Consent Decree and the All Writs Act, this Court may enjoin all IBT members and affiliates from "filing or taking any legal action that challenges, impedes, seeks review of or relief from, or seeks to prevent or delay any act of the court officers appointed by this Court pursuant to the Consent Order . . . in any court or forum in any jurisdiction except this Court." All Writs Order, 728 F. Supp. at 1039 n. 5. This Court has emphasized that all actions implicating the Consent Decree must be brought in this Court because (1) multiple suits would present a "significant risk of subjecting the Consent Decree to inconsistent interpretations and the Court Officers to inconsistent judgments" that would "encourage forum shopping," (2) "widespread litigation . . . would subvert the reform by bogging the Court officers ...


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