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TAYLOR MILK CO. v. INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF TEAMSTERS

November 26, 1997

TAYLOR MILK COMPANY, a Pennsylvania Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, AFL-CIO, an Unincorporated Association and Labor Organization, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, DAIRY CONFERENCE - USA AND CANADA, an Unincorporated Association and Labor Organization, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SMITH

 SMITH, District Judge

 Taylor Milk Company ("Taylor") has sued the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its Dairy Conference (collectively the "IBT" or "Teamsters"), alleging that the IBT engaged in prohibited secondary activity in violation of § 8(b)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4), and seeking damages under § 202 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 28 U.S.C. § 187. Before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment, dkt.no. 13. Upon review of the record, I find that there exists a genuine issue of material fact which requires that I deny the motion.

  I.

 This litigation centers around Taylor's failed attempt to purchase a dairy plant from Borden, Inc., in 1995. *fn1" Borden was in the process of selling or closing all of its dairy operations in the Eastern United States, including a plant in Youngstown, Ohio. Taylor, for its part, was faced with a major capacity shortage at its plant in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, a short distance from Pittsburgh. Borden's Youngstown workers were represented by IBT Local 377, while Taylor's Ambridge employees were represented by Local 205. It appears that the labor costs under the Local 377 agreement were significantly less than those under Local 205's contract; indeed, Taylor planned to eliminate many of the jobs in Ambridge after it acquired the Youngstown facility.

 Taylor and Borden entered into a binding agreement to negotiate exclusively with one another for the sale and purchase of the Youngstown plant on August 8, 1995, with Taylor paying a $ 50,000 nonrefundable deposit to Borden to guarantee that exclusivity. Taylor's bank financing for the deal, however, was contingent upon the existence of stable, long-term collective bargaining agreements which Taylor could assume.

 On August 24, Mr. Joseph Taylor and Taylor's labor counsel, Attorney Charles Volk, met with representatives of Local 377 and proposed a new contract with moderate increases in wages and benefits; Local 377 indicated a willingness to negotiate further. The next day, Messrs. Taylor and Volk met with representatives of Borden and Local 205. Local 205 was represented by its principal officer, Mr. William Lickert. In addition, Mr. Fred Gegare, Chairman of the Teamsters Dairy Conference, was present at the meeting. Unfortunately for Taylor, things quickly turned sour.

 Local 205 believed that it had the right to "follow its work" to the new Youngstown facility, relying on a no-subcontracting clause in its collective bargaining agreement with Taylor. After Taylor made its proposal, Gegare spoke up and told Borden representatives that they should sell the Youngstown plant to someone other than Taylor, Volk dep. at 46; Taylor dep. at 94, 135, and that he would not accept a "substandard contract" for that facility, Volk dep. at 32. Gegare also stated that he was "invoking" Article 12, section 2 of the IBT constitution and awarding jurisdiction of the plant to Local 205, in place of Local 377. Volk dep. at 32, Taylor Dep. at 110, 112. Accordingly, he continued, Local 377 would not be negotiating any new contract for the Youngstown facility; the new contract, if any, would be negotiated solely by Gegare and Lickert. Volk dep. at 32. Shortly after that, the meeting broke up with no resolution of the labor issues.

 On September 1, Borden attempted to negotiate a long-term contract with Local 377 so that Taylor could buy the plant. Local 377's business agent, Mr. Eben Byers, however, told Borden that Gegare had given him explicit instructions not to negotiate, but to bring any proposal directly to Gegare. A month later, on October 2, Borden representatives visited Byers and Gegare in Milwaukee, where Gegare was based. Byers and Local 377 were excluded from the negotiations entirely. Byers dep. at 32-33. Gegare then presented a proposal to Borden, id. at 33, which Borden rejected. At the conclusion of the meeting, Gegare told Byers that Gegare's offer was presented as Local 377's proposal, that Borden had rejected it, that there would be no further negotiations, and that the plant would close. Byers thought that Gegare's offer was unrealistic and asked for too much. Id. at 33-34.

 Borden subsequently sold the Youngstown plant to Dean Foods, which used its customer list and ceased production operations. Taylor then filed this suit.

 II.

 Summary judgment shall be "rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Accordingly, "the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing' - that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). "Since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element," id. at 323-24, on which a party bears the burden of proof at trial establishes that the moving party is "entitled to a judgment as a matter of law," the nonmoving party must establish the existence of every element essential to his case. Id.

 Once the moving party has satisfied its burden, the nonmoving party is required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) to go beyond the pleadings by way of affidavits or other admissible evidentiary material to establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Clark v. Clabaugh, 20 F.3d 1290, 1294 (3d Cir. 1994). That is, the nonmoving party "may not rest upon mere allegation or denials of his pleadings, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).

 A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. . . ." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A material fact is "genuine" "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248, 257.

 In determining whether a nonmovant has established the existence of a genuine issue of material fact requiring a jury trial, the evidence of the nonmovant must "be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255. Whether an inference is justifiable, however, depends on the evidence adduced. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 595-96, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). An inference based upon speculation or conjecture, however, does not create a material factual dispute sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Robertson v. Allied Signal, Inc., 914 F.2d 360, 382 n. 12 (3d Cir. ...


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