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Laborers' International Union of North America Local No. 91 v. Empire Dismantlement Corp.

March 26, 2006

LABORERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA LOCAL NO. 91, A.F.L.-C.I.O., ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EMPIRE DISMANTLEMENT CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

In this case, the Laborers International Union Local No. 91 ("Local 91") and trustees of various Local 91 employee benefit funds seek to collect employee benefit contributions allegedly due under Local 91's collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). Plaintiffs seek relief pursuant to the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132 and 1145. Currently before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' second and third causes of action.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Summary

Defendant Empire Dismantling Corporation ("Empire") is a demolition company located in Niagara County, New York. (Compl., ¶ 8). On or about October 4, 2002, Empire executed a Letter of Assent binding it to a Memorandum of Agreement which in turn bound it to the terms of Local 91's CBA, as well as that of the Ironworkers Union. (Pl.'s State., ¶ 1; Def.'s State., ¶ 3). Empire executed the letter as a condition to performing demolition work at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in connection with the recent construction of the Seneca-Niagara Casino project ("the project"). (Pl.'s State., ¶ 2).

Local 91's CBA provides that it has jurisdiction over "the wrecking of buildings and structures," and numerous other types of work. (CBA, p. 41).*fn1 According to Empire, the Ironworkers' CBA contains a similar work jurisdiction clause. (Def.'s State., ¶ 4).

In performing demolition work for the project in 2002 and 2003, Empire employed members of various unions, including members of Local 91, and members of the Ironworkers Union. (Pl.'s State., ¶ 3). By letter dated November 26, 2002, Local 91 complained that Empire was assigning work to members of the Ironworkers Union rather than Local 91 in violation of Local 91's CBA, and demanded that Empire assign all work to Local 91. (Def.'s State., ¶¶ 6, 20). Empire contends that Local 91 threatened to bring a claim under the CBA, but never did so during the course of the project. (Def.'s State., ¶ 6).

Empire contends that it paid the benefit funds due to the Ironworkers Union, as well as the wages and benefit fund contributions due to Local 91, after completion of the demolition work. (Def.'s State., ¶ 7). Notwithstanding its position that it had paid Local 91 all of the benefits due, Empire consented to an audit of its payroll books and records after trustees of Local 91 commenced an action against it in April 2003, Bianco, et al. v. Empire Dismantlement Corp., 03-CV-318A(F). (Def.'s State., ¶¶ 8-11). According to Local 91, the audit revealed that Empire had underpaid contributions due. (Pl.'s State., ¶ 11).

B. Procedural History

Plaintiffs commenced this action by filing aComplaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York on April 28, 2005. On August 22, 2005, after the parties exchanged initial disclosures, Defendant moved to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment on Plaintiffs' second and third causes of action.*fn2 This Court heard oral argument on October 13, 2005, and reserved decision at that time. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' second and third causes of action is denied.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for dismissal of a Complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). A court may dismiss an action under this rule if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which will entitle him to relief." Cohen v. Koenig, 25 F.3d 1168, 1172 ...


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