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Savage v. Tweedy

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 31, 2014

PETER SAVAGE, CLIFF PUCKETT, V. MICHAEL WALLACE, and GABRIEL TRIPLETT, Plaintiffs,
v.
DOUG TWEEDY, PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS, and UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA, Defendants.

Catherine A. Highet, Benjamin Wright Haile, PORTLAND LAW COLLECTIVES, LLP, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Daniel M. Shanley, James L. Francesconi, Matthew E. Malmsheimer, Patrick A. Maher, HAGLUND KELLEY HORNGREN JONES & WILDER, LLP, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Doug Tweedy and Northwest Pacific Regional Council of Carpenters

Brian F. Quinn, DECARLO, CONNOR & SHANLEY PC, Washington, DC, Daniel M. Shanley, James L. Francesconi, Matthew E. Malmsheimer, Patrick A. Maher, HAGLUND KELLEY HORNGREN JONES & WILDER, LLP, Portland, OR, Attorneys for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

This action arises out of a phone bank orchestrated by Plaintiffs during a union election in an effort to defeat Doug Tweedy, the Executive Secretary Treasurer ("EST") of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters ("PNWRCC"). Plaintiffs allege that their discipline for phone banking, which included removal from their elected offices, suspension from the union for up to 6 years, and monetary fines, violated their protected activity under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA").

Now before the Court is Plaintiffs' second motion for leave to amend their complaint [194], Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment [155], and Defendants' motion for summary judgment [162]. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' second motion for leave to file an amended complaint [194] is DENIED, Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment [155] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, and Defendants' motion for summary judgment [162] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.[1]

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs' cause of action arises out of a union election that took place in December 2011. Plaintiffs were members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters ("UBC") and the PNWRCC. Plaintiffs were also members of and supported the "Reform Party, " which according to Plaintiffs, opposed the policies of the PNWRCC's highest officer, EST Doug Tweedy.

On November 14, 2011, Savage emailed other Local 156 Reform Party supporters, including Financial Secretary and Delegate Wayne Frazey, Trustees and Delegates Don Ball and Jason Sheckler, and Delegate Krista Farmer, to conduct a phone bank for the December 2011 election. Shanley Decl. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Exs. 12, 16 [164]. On November 28 and 29, 2011, Plaintiffs engaged in a phone bank at the union hall of Local 156 where they encouraged other members to vote in the upcoming election and support Reform Party candidates. The Reform Party-endorsed candidates won every office for which they ran in the December 2011 election. On December 13, 2011, Tyson Stuber sent a letter to UBC President Douglas McCarron protesting the election because the Reform Party had "access[ed] union [members'] records, including phone numbers, via the UBC ULTRA System and phone banked/campaign-called at the local union hall...." Id., Ex. 19 [164]. James P. Gleason, the UBC Western District Representative, investigated and submitted a report dated January 5, 2012, in which he found, among other things, that "[t]here was a use of union facilities by candidates and supporters only offered to one group without Local Union authorization[, ]" and recommended that "a new election... be ordered for all candidates and offices nominated at the November 12, 2011 nomination meeting." Id., Ex. 20, p. 367. Based on a directive from McCarron, Local Union 156 was required to rerun the December 2011 election.[2]

Starting on January 23, 2012, Tyson Stuber, Jeff Harms, and Jennifer Van Datta filed charges against Plaintiffs alleging that Plaintiffs had improperly accessed union records to make campaign calls and had not allowed other candidates access to member phone numbers. Stuber, Harms, and Van Datta charged Plaintiffs with causing dissension, defrauding the union, and failing to obey authority under sections 51(A)(1), (6) and (12) of the UBC Constitution, as well as violating Section 31H of the UBC Constitution, which allows an examination of the membership list "containing the names and addresses of all members once within thirty days prior to the election...." Highet Decl. in Supp. of Pls.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 4, p. 43 [157]. To determine whether there was sufficient evidence for the charges filed against Plaintiffs to go to trial, the Executive Committee held a meeting in February 2012 in Spokane, Washington, where the charging parties presented their charges. Highet Decl. in Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 30, p. 4 [189].

On April 28, 2012, the Standing Trial Committee tried those who had engaged in the phone bank, including Plaintiffs. All parties were represented by member counsel and had the opportunity to make opening statements, introduce evidence, examine witnesses, and make closing arguments. The trial lasted approximately nine and one-half hours.

On April 29, 2012, the Standing Trial Committee found: (1) Savage guilty of violating Sections 51A(1), (6), and (12); (2) Puckett guilty of violating Sections 51A(6) and (12); (3) Wallace guilty of violating Sections 51A(1), (6), and (12); and (4) Triplett not guilty because he was an "apprentice." The Standing Trial Committee recommended that Savage, Puckett, and Wallace be prevented from holding office for six years and fined $1, 000 each. The delegates of the PNWRCC voted to impose the penalties recommended by the Standing Trial Committee. The UBC upheld the discipline upon Plaintiffs' appeal.

In a letter dated July 17, 2012, Tweedy, on behalf of the PNWRCC, requested that the UBC's General Executive Board stay the penalties imposed against Plaintiffs because of the upcoming election for EST on August 17 and 18, 2012. Plaintiffs' penalties were stayed. On July 19, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction sought, among other things, a declaration that their discipline violated the LMRDA and an injunction requiring Defendants to vacate the penalties imposed against Plaintiffs and to reinstate Plaintiffs to their elected offices. On August 10, 2012, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs appealed the Court's order to the Ninth Circuit. On August 24, 2012, the stay of Plaintiffs' penalties were lifted and their sentences re-imposed.

On May 16, 2013, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded this Court's August 10, 2012, order, holding that the Court had abused its discretion when concluding that Plaintiffs were not likely to succeed on the merits and had not suffered irreparable harm. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion to compel, motion to amend the first amended complaint, and a motion for partial summary judgment. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs' claims. The Court held oral argument on February 12, 2014.

STANDARDS

I. Motion to Amend the Complaint

Leave to amend a complaint should be freely given "when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Network Solutions, Inc. , 194 F.3d 980, 986 (9th Cir. 1999) (Citations omitted). "The decision of whether to grant leave to amend... remains within the discretion of the district court, which may deny leave to amend due to undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [and] futility of amendment." Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Publ'g , 512 F.3d 522, 532 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations marks and citations omitted).

II. Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis of its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).

Once the moving party meets its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to present "specific facts" showing a "genuine issue for trial." Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Stefanchik , 559 F.3d 924, 927-28 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). The nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and designate facts showing an issue for trial. Bias v. Moynihan , 508 F.3d 1212, 1218 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex , 477 U.S. at 324).

The substantive law governing a claim determines whether a fact is material. Suever v. Connell , 579 F.3d 1047, 1056 (9th Cir. 2009). The court draws inferences from the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Earl v. Nielsen Media Research, Inc. , 658 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2011). If the factual context makes the nonmoving party's claim as to the existence of a material issue of fact implausible, that party must come forward with more persuasive evidence to support his claim than would otherwise be necessary. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

DISCUSSION

I. Motion for Leave to Amend

Plaintiffs seek leave to amend their first amended complaint.[3] For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' ...


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