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Cephas v. International Longshoremen's Association

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 10, 2018

Julius Cephas, Paul Cutler, Emmett Foster, and Sally Chapman, Plaintiffs,
v.
International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO, Harold J. Daggett, William Ashe, Jr., and Brian Witiw, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (D.I. 70) and Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (D.I. 75). The issues are fully briefed. (D.I. 71, 76, 78, 79, 81, 83). For the reasons set forth below, I grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and deny Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs are former local union officers of Local 1694-1, International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO ("Local 1694-1"). (D.I. 71 at 1; D.I. 76 at 2). Plaintiff Julius Cephas is the former local President. (D.I. 76 at 3; D.I. 76-1 at ¶¶5-6). Local 1694-1 represents individuals working in cargo handling and warehousing functions at the Delaware State Port Corporation. (D.I. 76 at 2). On April 25, 2016, following a January 2016 hearing, Defendant International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO ("TLA") imposed a trusteeship over Local 1694-1, removed all local officers, and barred Cephas from running for union office for three years. (D.I. 71 at 1; D.I 76 at 4-5). The ILA hearing committee (the "Committee") had found that Local 1694-1's officers had violated their duty of fair representation by maintaining an unfair and discriminatory seniority system. (D.I. 2-14 at 22). The Committee had further found that Local 1694-1 's officers impeded an ILA investigation into complaints about the seniority system. (Id. at 24).

         On May 3, 2016, Plaintiffs brought this action. (D.I. 2). They also moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seeking to dissolve the trusteeship over Local 1694-1, reinstate Plaintiffs and other officers to their positions, and rescind the suspension of Cephas's right to run for office. (D.I. 1, 4). Plaintiffs contended that ILA imposed the trusteeship after an unfair hearing because they lacked notice and were denied the right to cross-examine witnesses. (D.I. 2 at 16). This Court heard and denied that motion on July 7, 2016. (D.I. 27).

         On August 5, 2016, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint alleging: (I) Defendants imposed the trusteeship for an improper purpose in violation of Section 302 of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 462, (II) Defendants imposed a trusteeship without a fair hearing in violation of Section 304(c) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 464(c), (III) Defendants improperly disciplined Cephas in violation of Section 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5), and (IV) Defendants breached the ILA Constitution by barring Cephas from running for office for three years in violation of Section 301 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 185. (D.I. 32 at 13-23).

         On January 21, 2018, Cephas again sought a temporary restraining order, arguing that he was likely to succeed on Counts III and IV and requesting this court to "command[] defendants to cease and desist interfering with [Cephas's] right to run for union office." (D.I. 61). This Court denied Cephas's motion. (D.I. 66). Local 1694-1 held an election on January 24, 2018. (D.I. 71 at 3). No. local officer elections are scheduled prior to the expiration of Cephas's suspension on April 24, 2019. (D.I. 88 at ¶ 3).

         Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment as to all of Plaintiffs' claims on April 27, 2018. (D.I. 70). Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment as to Counts III and IV of the Amended Complaint on April 27, 2018. (D.I. 75). Briefing was complete on June 8, 2018. On August 9, 2018, noting the end of the trusteeship, this Court dismissed Counts I and II as moot. (D.I. 86).

         II. Legal Standard

         "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuinely disputed material fact relative to the claims in question. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). Material facts are those "that could affect the outcome" of the proceeding, and "a dispute about a material fact is 'genuine' if the evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The moving party may discharge its burden by pointing out to the court that there is an absence of evidence supporting the non-moving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

         When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). A dispute is "genuine" only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-49. If the non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

         III. Discussion

         A. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         Defendants seek summary judgment that this Court lacks jurisdiction over Counts III and IV. (D.I. 71 at 22; D.I. 81 at 5). Alternatively, Defendants seek summary judgment that Counts III and IV fail on the merits. (D.I. 71 at 25, 28). The parties agree that there are no disputed material facts relating to the two remaining Counts. (D.I. 87, 88).

         1. ...


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