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McCann v. Miller

March 22, 2010

FRANK MCCANN, ET AL
v.
STEVE MILLER, ET AL



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Goldberg, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This opinion addresses whether the national and local lodges of a union can be held liable for a physical altercation between its members and representatives of another union. Currently before the Court are two Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, its officers, Thomas Buffenbarger, Robert Roach, Lynn Tucker (collectively referred to as the "IAM Defendants"), and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 1776 ("Local 1776"). Both motions assert that Plaintiffs have not provided sufficient evidence to hold the Defendants liable for the altercation in question. Plaintiffs have also filed two Motions for Summary Judgment claiming that the evidence of record establishes that these Defendants were involved in a conspiracy to assault Plaintiffs.

Because we find that Plaintiffs have not provided adequate evidence that the IAM Defendants were involved in the conspiracy, Plaintiffs' claims against the IAM Defendants will be dismissed. However, as Plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence of Local 1776's participation in the conspiracy, that portion of the case will proceed to trial.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is a three-tiered international labor organization. The top tier is referred to as the Grand Lodge and is administered by an elected, nine-member Executive Council. The intermediate tier is comprised of District Lodges. The District Lodges generally negotiate and administer collective bargaining agreements on behalf of the members of the Local Lodges, which make up the lowest tier. Approximately 58 District Lodges and over 1000 Local Lodges are affiliated with the IAM. Each District and Local Lodge is a separate and autonomous entity, with its own officers, governance and treasury. The officers of the District and Local Lodges are not authorized to speak or act on behalf of the IAM.

The District Lodge involved in this case is District Lodge 141, which represented the US Airways baggage handlers and other fleet service workers in collective bargaining with the airline. District Lodge 141 is not a party to this case. Defendant Local 1776 is the Local Lodge involved in this case, and represents Philadelphia area members who were employed at US Airways and other airlines. (IAM Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts, ¶¶ 1, 3-6; Beck Aff., ¶¶ 16-18).

In addition to the IAM and Local 1776, nineteen (19) individual members of the union are named as defendants in this action. The titles and positions of several of these individual members, as well as two (2) additional union members who are not defendants, are relevant to understanding the motions before the Court. These Defendants are as follows:

* Defendant Thomas Buffenbarger, President of the IAM;

* Defendants Robert Roach and Lynn Tucker, General Vice Presidents of the IAM;

* Randy Canale, President of District Lodge 141, who is not a party to this case;

* Defendant Vincent Addeo, Director of Organizing for District Lodge 15;

* Defendant Anthony Armideo, an officer of District Lodge 141;

* Defendant Robert Boland, President of Local 1776; and

* Steve Miller, an officer of District Lodge 141, who was originally a defendant in this case until the claims against him were dismissed by agreement of the parties.

The altercation in question arose following the announcement of a merger between US Airways and America West. Prior to the merger, America West workers were primarily represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), and US Airways workers were primarily represented by the IAM. Plaintiffs, Frank McCann, Frank Trotti, Jeff Osborne, Joseph Carbon, and Timothy Grandfield, were organizers for the TWU. In preparation for the merger, and in an attempt to recruit new TWU members, Plaintiffs planned to hold informational meetings at various locations in January and February 2006, including one at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott on February 7 and 8, 2006. (IAM Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts, ¶¶ 9, 11).

According to Plaintiffs, on the morning of February 8, 2006, they observed a group of men assembled outside of the meeting room. Before their meeting began, Defendants Anthony Armideo, Vincent Addeo, and Robert Boland, entered the room and threatened Plaintiffs with violence unless they abandoned the meeting. A few minutes after the three men left the room, the group of men that had been outside entered the meeting room and attacked Plaintiffs. As a result of the altercation, Plaintiffs suffered physical injuries. (Osborne Decl., ¶¶ 10-17; Carbon Decl., ¶¶ 12-17; Trotti Decl., ¶¶ 8-12; Grandfield Decl., ¶¶ 7-10; McCann Decl., ¶¶ 11-13).

On November 2, 2007, numerous persons involved in the February 8, 2006 altercation, including many Defendants in the case before this Court, pled guilty to simple assault and conspiracy to commit assault.*fn1 All of the convicted Defendants, with the exception of Anthony Armideo, were members of Local 1776.

On January 31, 2008, Plaintiffs Trotti, Osborne, Carbon, and Grandfield sued the IAM, Local 1776, and numerous other defendants. On February 4, 2008, Plaintiff McCann filed a similar action against the IAM, Buffenbarger, Tucker, Roach, Local 1776 and others. These two cases have been consolidated. Generally, the complaints accuse the IAM Defendants, Local 1776 and other individuals of conspiring to assault Plaintiffs. For instance, pertinent portions of these complaints allege that:

Defendant Union Officials, acting together with the other Defendant attackers, reached an understanding or agreement, engaged in a course of conduct, and otherwise conspired among and between themselves, and with other unnamed co-conspirators, with the intent to ...


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