The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kimba M. Wood, District Judge.
Plaintiffs William Hill, Donald Kraucuk, Deborah Stralkus, and
Amy Lewis ("plaintiffs") are members of Local 97, ("Local 97"),
International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("IBT"), a labor
organization as defined by 29 U.S.C. § 402(i). Defendant Elaine
Chao ("defendant") is the Secretary of the Department of Labor,
sued in her official capacity.
On December 6, 2000, Local 97 held an election for union
officers. Plaintiffs were candidates for the following offices:
Hill ran for president, Lewis for vice-president, Kraucuk for
secretary-treasurer, and Stalks for recording secretary. All
four plaintiffs were defeated in their bids for election, losing
by an average margin of 112 votes out of 2,042 votes cast.
(Compl.Ex. A.) On December 8, 2002, plaintiffs filed a challenge
to the election results with Teamster Joint Council No. 73
("Joint Council"). (Compl.Ex. B.) Sixty-nine days later, on
February 15, 2001, the Joint Council mailed a decision in
response to plaintiffs' challenge, upholding the election
results. (Compl.Ex. D.)
Plaintiffs did not appeal the Joint Council's decision to the
International Executive Board ("IEB") at that time. Instead, on
March 15, 2001, plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Department
of Labor ("DOL") under Section 482 of the Labor Management
Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"). 29 U.S.C. § 482. The
complaint alleged "massive violations" of the LMRDA by incumbent
slate of candidates and requested an investigation of the
proceedings as well as a new, DOL-supervised, election.
(Compl.Ex. E.) On March 21, 2001, an agent of the DOL, Frank
Gonzalez, informed plaintiffs that their protest was time-barred
because no appeal had been taken to the IEB within 15 days of
the Joint Council's decision. Plaintiffs wrote a letter to the
DOL the next day, contesting agent Gonzalez' conclusion on
several grounds. (Compl.Ex. F.) Plaintiffs claim that they never
received a response to this letter. (Compl. ¶ 12.)
Plaintiffs next appealed the Joint Council's decision to the
IEB. On April 3, 2001, plaintiffs received a letter from the IEB
acknowledging receipt of their appeal and inviting them to
submit any additional evidence within 30 days. (Compl. ¶ 14.)
Plaintiffs renewed their appeal to the DOL when more than 100
days had passed without additional communication from the IEB.
(Compl. ¶ 15.) On July 18, 2001, the DOL responded by letter,
declining to undertake an investigation of the election and
reiterating its position that plaintiffs' action was
time-barred. (Compl.Ex. I.) Defendant has moved to dismiss this
action pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), claiming that plaintiffs have
failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court merely
"determine[s] whether the compliant itself is legally
sufficient," Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir.
1985), accepting as true its factual allegations, see Anatian
v. Coutts Bank (Switzerland) Ltd., 193 F.3d 85, 88 (2d Cir.
1999). All inferences are drawn in favor of the non-moving
party. See Moore v. PaineWebber, Inc., 189 F.3d 165 (2d Cir.
1999). The complaint should not be dismissed unless it appears
beyond doubt that the plaintiff "can prove no set of facts in
support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Cruz
v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593, 597 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 855 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d
In making this assessment, the Court "must limit itself to the
facts stated in the complaint, documents attached to the
complaint as exhibits and documents incorporated by reference in
the complaint." Hayden v. County of Nassau, 180 F.3d 42, 54
(2d Cir. 1999). However, when a motion to dismiss is predicated
on plaintiffs' failure to exhaust internal union remedies, "a
court may only grant dismissal if it is able to say beyond a
doubt that plaintiffs' allegations . . . are insufficient to
excuse their failure to exhaust the remedies available."
Bennett v. Saunders, 1999 WL 529539, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. 1999)
internal quotations omitted (quoting Retana v. Apartment,
Motel, Hotel, & Elevator Operators Union, 453 F.2d 1018, 1025
(9th Cir. 1972)).
B. Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
Section 482 of the LMRDA dictates when the Department of Labor
may become involved in a labor organization dispute. Section
482(a) relates specifically to the enforcement of complaints
filed with the Department, and states: "A member of a labor
(1) who has exhausted the remedies available under
the constitution and by-laws of such organization ...