The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES FRANCIS, Magistrate Judge
This case concerns the free speech and due process rights of union
members and raises the issue of when a union's attorney may be liable for
violating those rights. The plaintiffs are dissident members of Local
1-2, Utility Workers Union of America ("Local 1-2" or the "Union"), who
allege that union officials violated their statutory rights under Title I
of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (the "LMRDA,"
commonly known as the Landrum-Griffin Act), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et
seq., and under § 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (the
"LMRA," commonly known as the
Taft-Hartley Act), 29 U.S.C. § 185, and their contractual
rights under the Union by-laws. The parties have agreed that I exercise
jurisdiction over the case for all purposes, including trial, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The plaintiffs now move pursuant to Rule 15(a) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to amend the Complaint to assert two
new causes of action and to include an additional plaintiff. Defendant
Ronald Davis has moved under Rule 12(b)(1) to dismiss the claims
against him for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. He also seeks
sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 on the ground that these claims were not
well-founded in law. I will outline the relevant facts in my discussion
of each motion.
The plaintiffs in the original Complaint are Harry Farrell, Lucia
Giacometti, John Sugrue, Daniel McNamara, and Lisa Vella. In a union
election in November 2002, Mr. Farrell was elected Senior Business Agent
for Local 1-2, while Ms. Giacometti and Mr. Sugrue were elected Business
Agents. (Complaint dated May 30, 2003 ("Compl."), ¶ 3). Mr. McNamara
and Ms. Vella are members of the Union. (Compl., ¶ 4).
The dispute at the heart of this case began when Mr. Farrell, Ms.
Giacometti, and Mr. Sugrue proposed amendments to the Union by-laws that
would have altered the succession to the post of Union President and
would have required Union officers and staff to submit to periodic drug
and alcohol testing. (Compl., ¶ 8). The proponents discussed the
amendments with another Union Business
Agent, Harcourt Cordew, who reported these conversations to the
Union President, defendant Emmanuel Hellen. (Compl., ¶ 9). According
to Mr. Cordew, the dissidents Mr. Farrell, Ms. Giacometti, and
Mr. Sugrue were less than complimentary about Mr. Hellen's
stewardship of the Union. (Compl., Exh. 2).
Mr. Hellen responded by bringing internal Union charges against the
dissidents. (Compl., ¶¶ 10-11 & Exhs. 2, 3, 4). He also filed a
defamation action against them in New York State Supreme Court, Nassau
County, which he withdrew without prejudice on March 19, 2003. (Compl.,
¶¶ 12, 37). While the internal Union charges were pending, the
dissidents were apparently suspended from office. (Compl., 5 16). Under
the by-laws of Local 1-2, the Union's Executive Committee served as a
Trial Committee to consider those charges. (Compl., ¶ 14). It found
the dissidents guilty of all of the specifications except for the charge
of defamation, which had been withdrawn. (Compl., ¶ 84 & Exh. 18
at 5). On the basis of these findings, the Trial Committee recommended
that the three dissidents be expelled from office. (Compl., ¶ 85
& Exh. 18 at 5).
On April 30, 2003, a general membership meeting of Local 1-2 was held
at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan. (Compl., ¶ 101).
Discussion of the Trial Committee Report was apparently raucous, with the
dissidents being heckled and their time to speak curtailed. (Compl.,
¶¶ 102-116). A vote was then taken by secret ballot, and the
membership approved the Trial Committee Report with respect to Mr.
Farrell and Mr. Sugrue but rejected it with respect
to Ms. Giacometti. (Compl., ¶¶ 122-128, 136). As a result, Mr.
Farrell and Mr. Sugrue were expelled from office, while Ms. Giacometti
resumed her position as Business Agent. (Compl., Plaintiffs 137). Because
Mr. Farrell and Mr. Sugrue were retired and not actively employed as
utility workers, they were also ousted from membership in the Union.
(Compl., Plaintiff 139, 160 & Exh. 21).
The plaintiffs then filed the instant action, asserting seven causes of
action. They allege, first, that the defendants abridged the free speech
rights of Mr. Farrell, Ms. Giacometti, and Mr. Sugrue in violation of the
LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411 (a)(2). Next, they allege that the defendants
violated another provision of LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411 (a)(5), by
constructively removing Mr. Farrell and Mr. Sugrue from the Union without
due process. Third, the plaintiffs contend that the actions of the
defendants have intimidated Mr. McNamara and Ms. Vella, thus depriving
them of their free speech and free assembly rights. (Compl., ¶¶
163-165). Fourth, the plaintiffs argue that the expulsion of the
dissident officers violated certain procedural rights guaranteed by the
National Utility Workers Union of America constitution and therefore also
violated the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185. (Compl., ¶¶ 166-178). They
further maintain that the defendants tortiously interfered with a
contract: the Union by-laws. (Compl., ¶¶ 179-185). Next, the
dissident officers argue that the defendants had agreed to provide them
with a due process hearing but then violated that contractual obligation.
(Compl., ¶¶ 186-190). Finally, the plaintiffs assert that the rights
of members such as Mr. McNamara
and Ms. Vella to elect Union officers were abridged. (Compl., ¶¶
As noted above, the plaintiffs have now moved to amend the Complaint to
include an additional plaintiff and two more causes of action. The
proposed additional plaintiff is John Duffy, a Union Business Agent and
signatory of the by-law amendments suggested by the dissidents. (Proposed
Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl."), ¶¶ 198, 202). The new Eighth Cause
of Action alleges, among other things, that the defendants impeded Mr.
Duffy from addressing a membership meeting concerning how vacancies on
the Executive Board, including those caused by the expulsion of Mr.
Farrell and Mr. Sugrue, should be filled. (Am. Compl., ¶¶ 197-260).
The Proposed Amended Complaint alleges that the defendants again failed
to maintain order and obstructed participation by dissident Union
members. According to the plaintiffs, the defendants prevented them from
expressing their views, nominating candidates, and voting, all in
violation of Union by-laws and the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411 (a)(1),
(2). (Am. Compl., ¶¶ 253-260).
In the proposed Ninth Cause of Action, the plaintiffs assert that the
defendants reduced the duties of Mr. Duffy and Ms. Giacometti in
retaliation for their support of the dissident faction. (Am. Compl.,
¶¶ 261-271). These actions allegedly violated the plaintiffs' free
speech rights under 29 U.S.C. § 411 (a)(2) and their right to be
free from retaliation under 29 U.S.C. § 529. (Am. Compl., ¶¶
A motion to amend is governed by Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, which states that leave to amend "shall be freely given
when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); see Oneida Indian
Nation of New York v. City of Sherrill, New York, 337 F.3d 139
(2d Cir. 2003). Notwithstanding the liberality of the general rule, "it
is within the sound discretion of the court whether to grant leave to
amend," John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Amerford
International Corp., 22 F.3d 458
, 462 (2d Cir. 1994) (citation
omitted), and for the proper reasons, a court may deny permission to
amend in whole or in part. See Krumme v. WestPoint Stevens
Inc., 143 F.3d 71
, 88 (2d Cir. 1998). In discussing the use of this
discretion, the Supreme Court has stated:
In the absence of any apparent or declared reason
such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory
motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure
to cure deficiencies by amendments previously
allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by
virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of
amendment, etc. the leave sought should
. . . be "freely given."
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178
, 182 (1962).
Here, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs' proposed amendments
should be denied as fufile. A motion to amend may be denied on this
ground if the amendment could not withstand a motion to dismiss. See
Oneida Indian Nation, 337 F.3d at 168; Milanese v. Rust-Oleum
Corp., 244 F.3d 104, 110 (2d Cir. 2001); ...