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New York City District Council of Carpenters v. New England Construction Co., Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 11, 2017

NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS, Petitioner,
v.
NEW ENGLAND CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., and its successors and assigns, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KATHERINE POLK FAILLA United States District Judge.

         Petitioner New York City District Council of Carpenters has filed a motion requesting two forms of relief. First, Petitioner seeks to confirm two labor arbitration awards issued pursuant to Section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Labor Management Relations Act (the “LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Second, Petitioner moves to recover the attorney's fees and costs it has incurred in seeking to confirm those awards. The motion is unopposed: Respondent New England Construction Company, Inc., did not appear in either of the underlying arbitration hearings, and has not appeared before this Court. For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's motion is granted in full.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         A. Factual Background

         This case arises out of a collective bargaining agreement (the “CBA”) between Petitioner, a labor union, and The Association of Wall-Ceiling & Carpentry Industries of New York, Incorporated, a trade association of which Respondent is a member. (CBA 1; Contractors List). Article XIII of the CBA sets forth procedures the parties must follow to resolve disputes arising under the CBA. (CBA, art. XIII). The last step of those procedures, per Section 4 of Article XIII, is “final and binding arbitration.” (Pet'r 56.1 ¶ 2; CBA, art. XIII, § 4).

         Three provisions in Section 4 merit attention here. First, Section 4(a) permits an arbitrator “to conduct an ex-parte hearing in the event of the failure of either party to be present at the time and place designated for the arbitration.” (CBA, art. XIII, § 4(a)). Second, Section 4(b) mandates that the arbitrator's “decision … shall be final and binding … and may be entered as a final decree or judgment in the Supreme Court of the State of New York or in a court of appropriate jurisdiction in any state where such decision shall be rendered.” (Id. § 4(b)). Finally, Section 4(e) provides that “[u]pon the confirmation of the arbitrator's award, … the prevailing party shall be entitled to receive all court costs in each proceeding as well as reasonable attorney[']s fees.” (Id. § 4(c)).

         Petitioner alleges that Respondent violated the CBA on two occasions. (Pet'r 56.1 ¶ 6). First, in September 2013, Respondent impermissibly terminated a shop steward who was performing work on a Marriott Hotel in New York City. (Id.; 2013-1159/2015-870 Arbitration Demand). Second, in March 2014, Respondent failed to compensate two carpenters working on the PATH Station at the World Trade Center for “two hours of show-up pay.” (Pet'r 56.1 ¶ 6; 2014-791 Arbitration Demand). Because Petitioner and Respondent were unable to resolve either of these disputes, Petitioner demanded that Respondent submit to arbitration. (Pet'r 56.1 ¶ 7).

         Arbitrator Roger Maher held hearings on both disputes on August 18, 2015. (Pet'r 56.1 ¶ 8). Respondent attended neither hearing. (2013-1150 Award 1; 2014-791 Award 1). At each hearing, Petitioner introduced evidence to substantiate its claim against Respondent. (2013-1150 Award 1-2; 2014-791 Award 1-2).

         Four days later - August 22, 2015 - Arbitrator Maher issued two Default Awards in Petitioner's favor. (2013-1150 Award; 2014-791 Award). In the first award, which bears Case Number 2013-1150, Arbitrator Maher determined that Respondent violated the CBA when it laid off Petitioner's shop steward. (2013-1150 Award 1-2). As a remedy, Arbitrator Maher awarded Petitioner $10, 160.40 in wages and fringe benefits, plus interest. (Id. at 1). And in the second award, which bears Case Number 2014-791, Arbitrator Maher found that Respondent violated the CBA by failing to pay Petitioner's carpenters. (2014-791 Award 1-2). For this violation, Arbitrator Maher directed Respondent to pay Petitioner $368.84 in wages and fringe benefits, plus interest. (Id. at 2). In both awards, Arbitrator Maher directed Petitioner and Respondent to split his fee ($2, 000.00), [2] and added that Petitioner's counsel “would also be entitled to a reasonable [a]ttorney's fee” in the event Petitioner sought confirmation of the awards. (2013-1150 Award 2; 2014-791 Award 2-3).

         Arbitrator Maher sent both awards to Respondent by certified mail. (2013-1150 Award 3; 2014-791 Award 3). On September 28, 2015, Petitioner mailed to Respondent a letter demanding repayment for the awards.[3] (9/28/15 Letter). Respondent did not pay - and to date, has not paid - Petitioner. (Pet'r 56.1 ¶ 18).

         B. Procedural Background

         Petitioner initiated this action on August 22, 2016, by filing a petition to confirm Arbitrator Maher's two arbitration awards. (Dkt. #1). In response to this Court's August 23, 2016 Order (Dkt. #5), on September 9, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment and supporting papers (Dkt. #9-11). In addition to seeking to confirm the two arbitration awards, Petitioner asks this Court to award it $700.00 in attorney's fees and $499.41 in legal costs. (Pet'r 56.1 ¶¶ 22-26).

         DISCUSSION

         A. The Court Confirms Both of Arbitrator Maher's ...


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