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Trustees of the 1199/Seiu Greater New York Benefit Fund v. Sieger

October 5, 2010

TRUSTEES OF THE 1199/SEIU GREATER NEW YORK BENEFIT FUND, ET AL., PETITIONERS-PLAINTIFFS,
v.
HELEN SIEGER, RESPONDENT.
KINGSBRIDGE HEIGHTS REHABILITATION CARE CENTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Petitioners filed this special proceeding pursuant to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules ("N.Y. C.P.L.R.") Article 4, N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 5227, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("F.R.C.P.") 69(a)(1) to compel respondent,*fn1 Helen Sieger ("Sieger" or "Respondent"), to pay a judgment they obtained from this Court against the defendant Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation Center ("Kingsbridge").*fn2 Sieger has filed a motion to dismiss the petition. For the following reasons, Sieger's motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

1. The Petitioners' Judgment Against Kingsbridge

The petitioners are the trustees of the 1199/SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund, the 1199/SEIU Greater New York Pension Fund, the 1199/SEIU Education Fund, the 1199/SEIU Greater New York Child Care Fund, the 1199/SEIU Greater New York Job Security Fund, and the 1199/SEIU Greater New York Worker Participation Fund (collectively the "Funds" or the "petitioners"). The Funds are established pursuant to § 302(c)(5) of the Labor-Management Relations Act, and are employee benefit funds under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(2)(3). The Funds provide medical, retirement, child care, education, and other benefits to participants in the Funds and their beneficiaries.

Defendant in the underlying action, Kingsbridge, is a nursing home. On two occasions, Kingsbridge agreed to make contributions to the Funds on behalf of its employees. First, on October 1, 2002, Kingsbridge committed to contribute to the Funds in a collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") with 1199/SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, a labor union that represents certain Kingsbridge employees. The CBA expired on April 30, 2005. Second, on June 8, 2006, Kingsbridge agreed to contribute to the Funds as part of a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board that extinguished a complaint against Kingsbridge for unfair labor practices.*fn3

Kingsbridge's failure to make these payments has been the subject of extensive proceedings before this Court. On March 13, 2009, the petitioners' motion for summary judgment was granted and Kingsbridge was found liable for past-due contributions to the Funds, interest and liquidated damages for those unpaid contributions, and attorney's fees. Six months later, on September 9, 2009, judgment was entered against Kingsbridge for $2,733,362.11 (the "September 2009 Judgment").*fn4

2. Petitioners' Efforts to Determine the Existence of a Debt that Sieger Owes Kingsbridge

Sieger is the sole shareholder of Kingsbridge and the recipient of a $9 million loan from Kingsbridge that is now due. While Sieger was not a party to the above-described lawsuit, she is the Respondent in the special proceeding currently pending before this Court. The petitioners initiated this special proceeding to enforce the September 2009 Judgment against Sieger, as a debtor of Kingsbridge.

Beginning on November 3, 2009, petitioners sought to depose Sieger regarding Kingsbridge's 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 financial statements, each of which show a "loan receivable --related party" for $9 million. The notes accompanying these statements describe the loan as an advance "to a shareholder."*fn5

Petitioners allege that, as the sole shareholder of Kingsbridge, Sieger was the recipient of the loan.

Between December 2009 and early April 2010, the Funds attempted to depose Sieger regarding the existence of the loan as well as the location and extent of her assets. The first deposition was scheduled for December 17, 2009, but was postponed after Sieger's counsel advised petitioners that Sieger would be unable to attend the deposition due to a Jewish holiday. The deposition was then rescheduled for January 14, 2010. On January 13, however, Sieger's counsel notified the Funds that Sieger could not be deposed the next day due to a health-related issue. Sieger's counsel included a November 2009 letter from a doctor who had examined Sieger in September 2009. The deposition was rescheduled, this time, for March 3. On February 26, petitioners received another e-mail from Sieger's counsel canceling the deposition, again due to Sieger's health.*fn6

On March 10, petitioners requested that this Court enter an Order compelling Sieger to attend a deposition later that month or be precluded from contesting the existence of a $9 million loan that is due immediately to Kingsbridge. A March 11 Order required Sieger to attend a deposition before the Honorable Theodore H. Katz, United States Magistrate Judge, on March 18. If Sieger failed to attend that deposition, the March 11 Order further provided that Sieger had to appear before this Court on March 26 to show cause why the Court should not grant the petitioners' requested relief. In order to accommodate Sieger, this Court adjourned the deposition on two occasions: A March 15 Order moved the deposition to March 29; a March 24 Order (the "March 24 Order") rescheduled the deposition to April 15. The court appearance was ultimately rescheduled to April 23.

Sieger failed to attend her April 15 deposition and did not appear before this Court on April 23 to respond to the petitioners' request for relief. After confirming that Sieger had notice of the date on which she was supposed to be deposed under the March 24 Order, this Court held that Sieger cannot dispute the existence of a $9 ...


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