Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Regional Local Union Nos. 846 and 847 v. Valentine Steel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 17, 2015

REGIONAL LOCAL UNION NOS. 846 and 847, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, AFL-CIO,, Plaintiffs,
v.
VALENTINE STEEL SERVICE, INC., a Texas corporation, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANN AIKEN, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Regional Local Union Nos. 846 and 847, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, AFL-CIO (Local Unions) and plaintiffs Regional District Council Welfare Plan and Trust (Welfare Trust), Regional District Council Retirement Plan and Trust (Retirement Trust), Regional District Council Training Trust (Training Trust), and Regional District Council Vacation Trust Fund (Vacation Trust) (collectively, the Plaintiff Funds) filed suit pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001, et seq, and the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 151, et seq. Defendant Valentine Steel Services, Inc. (Valentine) moves to dismiss plaintiffs' claims for lack of personal jurisdiction; alternatively, Valentine moves to transfer venue. The motion to transfer is granted. [1]

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are two labor unions and four employee benefit plans. The employee benefit plans, the Plaintiff Funds 1 are administered in Oregon. Valentine is a Texas corporation doing business in Texas.

Plaintiffs allege that Valentine is a signatory to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Local Unions signed on January 19, 2012. Compl. ¶ 13 & Ex. 1. Under the CBA, plaintiffs allege that Valentine agreed "to the establishment of and to be bound by certain Trusts establishing the Plaintiff Funds." Id . ¶ 15. According to plaintiffs, the trust documents for the Plaintiff Funds were incorporated into the CBA "as they existed at the date of the Agreement" and "as may be amended from time to time"; plaintiffs thus contend that Valentine is bound by the trust documents as a signatory employer to the CBA. Id . ¶ 16.

The CBA requires Valentine to pay monthly fringe benefit contributions for each hour worked by each employee covered by the CBA and to file a report of its hours. Id . ¶¶ 18, 20. Further, the CBA requires Valentine to forward monthly "check-off dues" and working assessments, along with a list of covered employees, to the Local Unions. Compl. ¶¶ 28-29. The Plaintiff Funds are the authorized collection agent for contributions and deductions under the CBA and related trust documents, and the William C. Earhart Company in Portland, Oregon, administers the Plaintiff Funds and processes the check-off payments. Id . ¶¶ 11-12, 30. The Plaintiff Funds and the Local Unions allege that Valentine has not remitted the required fringe benefit contributions or check-off dues. Id . ¶¶ 23, 32.

Based on their status as employee benefit plans, the Plaintiff Funds filed suit under ERISA to obtain an audit and recover unpaid contributions owed from Valentine (Count I). Based on their status as employee organizations, the Local Unions filed suit under the LMRA to obtain an audit and recover unpaid check-off amounts owed from Valentine (Count II). Plaintiffs also seek declaratory judgment, interest on the amounts due and owing, liquidated damages, and attorney fees.

DISCUSSION

I. Personal Jurisdiction

Valentine first moves to dismiss this action for lack of personal jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b) (2) Valentine maintains that it is a Texas corporation, domiciled in Texas, conducting business exclusively in Texas, and that it has no minimum contacts with the State of Oregon. Van Meter Aff. ¶¶ 3-5, 10. Further, Valentine contends and plaintiffs do not dispute that the Local Unions and Valentine negotiated, signed and executed the CBA in Houston, Texas. Id . ¶ 7. Further, Valentine maintains that no work pursuant to the CBA was performed in Oregon and that the job sites were located in and around Houston, Texas. Id . ¶ 8. Thus, Valentine contends that this court lacks personal jurisdiction over it.

"Personal jurisdiction over a defendant may be acquired in one of two ways: by personal service of that defendant or by means of a defendant's minimum contacts' with the jurisdiction." Cripps v. Life Ins. Co of N. Am., 980 F.2d 1261, 1267 (9th Cir. 1992). "In opposition to a defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction is proper." Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008) A plaintiff may do so through a "prima facie showing of the jurisdictional facts." Id . (quoting Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990)) Plaintiffs argue that Valentine is bound by the forum selection clauses in the Welfare Trust and Retirement Trust, because those trust documents and all amendments thereto were incorporated into the CBA. Plaintiffs thus contend that Valentine consented to personal jurisdiction and venue in the District of Oregon by signing the CBA.

The Welfare Trust and the Retirement Trust, as amended in 2014, both contain the following section regarding jurisdiction and venue:

Each current and former Contributing Employer (as defined in Section 1.10) consents to personal jurisdiction and venue in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, or such place as prescribed by ERISA, with respect to any suit filed by the Trust in that forum of any nature (including suits involving fringe benefit contributions or a demand for any audit) and agrees that said forum is the most convenient forum for such suit.

Welfare Trust and Retirement Trust, art. VII, § 7. 12 (Parker Aff. Ex. 1 at 27, Ex. 2 at 27). Plaintiffs are correct that the CBA incorporates "various trust documents" as they existed when the CBA was ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.