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New York Joint Board, Unite Here v. Rosdev Hospitality

August 22, 2006

NEW YORK JOINT BOARD, UNITE HERE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROSDEV HOSPITALITY, SECAUCUS, LLC, AND LA PLAZA, SECAUCUS, LLC D/B/A CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL MEADOWLANDS, DEFENDANTS.



OPINION and ORDER

Plaintiff sues under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 28 U.S.C. § 185, alleging breach of a labor contract, and seeks a declaratory judgment under 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) that defendants are obligated to arbitrate the labor grievances raised by plaintiff.

Defendants move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) and (3), or to transfer venue to the District of New Jersey pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted, and this action shall be transferred to the District of New Jersey.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are either uncontested or taken from plaintiff's pleadings, papers and declarations in opposition to the motion to dismiss and are accepted as true. Hoffritz for Cutlery, Inc. v. Amajac, Ltd., 763 F.2d 55, 56-57 (2d Cir. 1985).

Plaintiff, New York Joint Board, UNITE HERE ("the Union") is a labor union representing hotel workers in New York City and the surrounding areas. The Union maintains its principal place of business in New York City. It also has an office in Union City, New Jersey. Defendants Rosdev Hospitality Secaucus, LLC and La Plaza Secaucus, LLC, d/b/a Crowne Plaza Hotel Meadowlands (collectively "Rosdev") jointly operate the Crowne Plaza Hotel (the "Hotel") in Secaucus, New Jersey. Their principal place of business is in Secaucus, New Jersey.

The Hotel was originally owned by Felcor Suites, LLC ("Felcor"). In October 2000, Felcor and the Union entered into a collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA"), which included an arbitration provision. The CBA expired by its terms on September 30, 2003. By letter dated September 30, 2004 Felcor indefinitely extended the CBA: "This is to further confirm that the current Agreement shall be extended and shall continue in full force and effect unless either party gives the other ten (10) days written notice of intent to terminate said Agreement." Complaint, Ex. A, at 1. In December 2004, Rosdev bought the Hotel from Felcor.

In January 2005 a dispute arose between the Union and Rosdev concerning lay-offs of several employees at the Hotel. Another dispute arose in March 2005, concerning Rosdev's refusal to provide bargaining-unit employees with paid vacation and sick time as the CBA required. The Union and Rosdev failed to resolve these disputes.

On April 10, 2006, the Union submitted the labor disputes for arbitration to the New Jersey State Board of Mediation, believing that Rosdev assumed the CBA when it purchased the Hotel from Felcor and is therefore obligated to arbitrate. The following day, Rosdev sent a letter to the Board, stating that there was no collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the Hotel and therefore no obligation to arbitrate the disputes.

On May 5, 2006, the Union filed this suit against the Hotel. Defendants' now move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, or to transfer this case to the District of New Jersey.

DISCUSSION

"In a federal question case, where the defendant resides outside the forum state, federal courts apply the forum state's personal jurisdiction rules if the applicable federal statute does not provide for national service of process." Sunward Electronics, Inc. v. McDonald, 362 F.3d 17, 22 (2d Cir. 2004).

Since the LMRA does not include such a provision, New York law applies.

The Union argues that there is personal jurisdiction over Rosdev under subsection (a)(1) of New York's long-arm statute, N.Y. ...


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