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Continental Finance Co. v. Ledwith

June 22, 2009

CONTINENTAL FINANCE COMPANY AND JAMES MURPHY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROBERT LEDWITH; ANDRES PUERTA; TERRY MOORE; LOCAL 46, METALLIC LATHERS AND REINFORCING IRONWORKERS; NEW YORK STATE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL; DISTRICT COUNCIL OF NEW YORK CITY AND VICINITY OF THE UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA; AND CONSTRUCTION AND GENERAL BUILDING LABORERS, LOCAL 79, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiffs Continental Finance Corporation ("Continental") and James Murphy ("Murphy") bring this action against Defendants Robert A. Ledwith ("Ledwith"); Andres Puerta ("Puerta"); Terry Moore ("Moore"); Local 46, Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers ("Local 46"); New York State Building and Construction Trades Council ("State Building Trades Council"); District Council of New York City and Vicinity of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America ("District Council of Carpenters"); and Construction and General Building Laborers, Local 79 ("Local 79"). Plaintiffs, developers of luxury apartments, contend that Defendants employed intimidation, threats, and violence in an attempt to coerce Plaintiffs into using union labor at a Manhattan building site. Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges violations of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 187 et seq. ("LMRA"); violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. ("RICO"); and state claims for tortious interference with contract, defamation, and assault.

Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint. Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

I. Facts*fn1

In August 2007, Continental, a real estate development corporation, began work on a luxury apartment building located at the corner of 49th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan (the "Site"). Murphy, a Continental employee, oversaw operations at the Site. Continental selected Ocean Avenue Construction ("Ocean Avenue") as construction manager and Pav-Lak Industries ("Pav-Lak") as general contractor for the Site. Pav-Lak, in turn, chose Rovini Construction ("Rovini") to build the superstructure at the Site.

According to Plaintiffs, beginning in October 2007, Defendants began threatening Continental in an effort to force it to either make Rovini sign a union contract or replace Rovini with a union contractor. In February 2008, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants began physically assaulting Continental employees; blocking deliveries at the Site; picketing the Site; intimidating contractors, real estate agents, and potential condominium buyers; holding rallies at the Site; and vandalizing the Site. On August 8, 2008, Defendant Moore allegedly pushed Plaintiff Murphy to the ground and repeatedly threatened to "kill him" and take a knife and "cut [his] balls off" because Continental refused to accede to Defendants' demands.

Plaintiffs also contend that Defendants distributed flyers and leaflets that contained disparaging comments about Continental and the Site, for example that the apartments on the Site were "overpriced" and were being built "in a shoddy fashion"; that Continental was employing "mostly desperate and poor undocumented workers that are being exploited for profit"; and that Continental was violating federal and state tax laws by failing to pay payroll taxes on behalf of employees who worked at the Site.

II. Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint

Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint advances eight claims. The first claim alleges that Defendants Local 46, Local 79, State Building Trades Council, and District Council of Carpenters violated Section 303 of the LMRA by engaging in a "secondary boycott" of Continental.

Plaintiffs' second, third, fourth, and fifth claims allege RICO violations. The second claim alleges that Defendants violated 18 U.S.C. § 1962(b) by acquiring an interest in or control over Continental through a pattern of racketeering activity. The fourth claim alleges that Defendants violated 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c) by establishing an "association in fact" that managed and operated Continental by means of racketeering activity. Claims three and five allege that Defendants violated 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) by conspiring to violate sections 1962(b) and 1962(c), respectively.

Plaintiffs' remaining three claims arise under New York state law. The sixth claim alleges that Defendants tortiously interfered with Continental's contracts by encouraging vendors and buyers to either terminate existing agreements with Continental or refrain from entering into new agreements. The seventh claim alleges that Defendants distributed flyers and leaflets defaming Continental. The eighth claim alleges that Defendant Moore, acting on behalf of the other Defendants, assaulted Plaintiff Murphy by pushing him to the ground the threatening him.

DISCUSSION

III. Standard of Review for a Motion ...


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