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East Port Excavating & Utilities Contracting Corp v. Local 138

March 20, 2012

EAST PORT EXCAVATING & UTILITIES CONTRACTING CORP., PLAINTIFF,
v.
LOCAL 138, INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, Senior District Judge:

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

This action was originally filed in Suffolk Count Supreme Court. Defendant later removed the case to this Court, citing section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185 as the basis for subject matter jurisdiction.*fn1 (Notice of Removal, docket no. 1.) Now before the Court is defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

In November 2008, plaintiff entered into a contract with an entity known as G. Penza Sons Inc./Village Dock Inc. (hereinafter "Penza") to act as its subcontractor for work performed for the Long Island Rail Road. Within that contract, plaintiff agreed "to have, onsite, a Master Mechanic who was a member of Defendant," a union. (Compl. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff also alleges that it had a separate contract with defendant wherein defendant agreed to provide plaintiff, when requested, with operating engineers, including a Master Mechanic, for work on the jobsite. (Compl. ¶¶ 6, 7.) The contract between plaintiff and defendant further contemplated that whenever the Master Mechanic provided is "unable to perform those functions adequately and in competent, professional and workmanlike manner," plaintiff would be entitled to a replacement. (Compl. ¶ 8.)

At some point in March 2009, plaintiff informed defendant that the Master Mechanic previously furnished was not performing adequately and asked for a replacement. Compl. ¶¶ 9-10.) Defendant allegedly refused. Plaintiff reiterated its request at the beginning of the next month to no avail. (Compl. ¶ 10.) As a result, plaintiff was forced to terminate work at the jobsite. (Compl. ¶ 12.)

Plaintiff brings two claims as a result of defendant's alleged conduct: (1) that defendant breached its contract with plaintiff, and (2) that defendant tortuously interfered with the contract between plaintiff and Penza. Defendant answered the Complaint, removed the action to this Court, and subsequently moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). Defendant argues that the contract referred to in the Complaint is a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") which sets forth a detailed grievance and arbitration procedure for any disputes arising out of its terms and provisions. Specifically, disputes arising out of work performed under the CBA call for the formation of a panel of members of the Union and various contractors associations to render a binding decision to resolve the matter. (CBA, Art. IV § 1, attached to defendant's motion as Exhibit 3.) In the event that a decision cannot be reached by the panel, the matter must be referred to arbitration. (Id.)

Defendant argues that because plaintiff brought this action to Court without employing the dispute-resolution apparatus set forth in the CBA, this action should be dismissed. Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to the motion.

DISCUSSION

I.STANDARD OF REVIEW

a.Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings - Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c)

"'In deciding a Rule 12(c) motion, [a court] appl[ies] the same standard [regarding the sufficiency of a pleading] as that applicable to a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), accepting the allegations contained in the Complaint as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.'" Desiano v. Warner-Lambert & Co., 467 F.3d 85, 89 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting Burnette v. Carothers, 192 F.3d 52, 56 (2d Cir. 1999)). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a pleading shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The Supreme Court has clarified the pleading standard applicable in evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

First, in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the Court disavowed the well-known statement in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957) that "a Complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." 550 U.S. at 562.

Instead, to survive a motion to dismiss under Twombly, a plaintiff must allege "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

While a Complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative ...


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