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Allen v. Chicago Steel

July 27, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.


Presently before the Court are the following Motions: 1) Plaintiffs Tim Allen, Dave Bergner, Tim Bushey, Frank Ellis, Barry Gosline, Harley Green, Tracy Grogan, Aaron Grogan, Jim Ksionka, Paul McLaughlin, Joe Monhand, Tony Perrone, and Ed Sherry's (collectively, "Plaintiffs") Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's June 1, 2010 Order dismissing Plaintiffs' Complaint; 2) Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; and 3) Defendants Chicago Steel (PA), LLC ("CS-PA"), Chicago Steel (IN), LLC ("CS-IN"),*fn1 Chicago Steel and Tinplate Processing, Inc., Chicago Steel and Tinplate, Inc., Chicago Steel Limited Partnership, Chicago Steel, Inc.,*fn2 Dan Phillips ("Phillips"),*fn3 Kathy Paxton ("Paxton"),*fn4 Bill Boak ("Boak"), and Claudia Eaton's ("Eaton")*fn5 (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration is granted, Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand is denied, and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.*fn6


Plaintiffs are former employees of CS-PA, a steel fabrication plant located in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. Local 4889-02 (the "Union") represented these employees in the bargaining unit at the Fairless Hills facility. The Union and CS-PA entered a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") that was in effect from May 5, 2005 through May 4, 2010. The steel fabrication plant closed in May 2009.

Plaintiffs allege that they are owed wages related to their previous employment at CS-PA. Specifically, they claim that they are owed $30,724.88 in vacation pay and $12,000 in severance pay. The amount each Plaintiff is allegedly owed is outlined in the Complaint. (Pls.' Compl. ¶¶ 30-31.)

On May 19, 2009, Phillips, in his role as President of CS-PA, sent an email to Plaintiffs' representative in which he stated: "Guys attached is the current vacation worksheet as of 5-19-09. As of right now I have no idea when monies would be available for any payments. I will keep you posted as I know more." (Id., Ex. A.) Attached to the email was a worksheet that allegedly detailed the amount of "vacation wages" and "severance as of 5/1/09" each individual employee was due and how those amounts were calculated. (Id., Ex. B.)

Subsequently, on June 18, 2009, Phillips sent a letter to all CS-PA employees in which he stated, in relevant part:

Kathy [Paxton] has been negotiating with the bank in an attempt to allow some payments of vacation time for the ex-employees of [CS-PA]. To date that has not been successful due to the current condition of the industry as well as the current financial condition of [CS-IN].

I know this is not what you wanted to hear from me; however it is the current status related to Vacation and Severance pay.

As conditions change I will attempt to keep you abreast. (Id., Ex. C.) According to the Complaint, on July 1, 2009, Plaintiffs then requested Phillips to provide a promissory note on behalf of CS-PA and CS-IN for the severance and vacation pay amounts. On July 7, 2009, Phillips responded: "I think you probably already know that I can not issue a promissory note on behalf of the bank. [CS-PA] is no longer in business and the bank owns all assets." (Id., Ex. D.)

Among other allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiffs claim that the Individual Defendants participated in a common enterprise or conspiracy to deprive Plaintiffs of wages. Plaintiffs allege that the Individual Defendants continued to pay themselves through CS-PA, CS-IN, and/or the Chase Street Defendants despite owing Plaintiffs the relevant severance and vacation pay. Plaintiffs aver that all Defendants converted this property owed to Plaintiffs for their own benefit.

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County on April 9, 2010. On April 30, 2010, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to this Court. The Complaint contains the following Counts: (1) Count I: Failure to Pay Wages -- Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL") (v. Individual Defendants, CS-PA, CS-IN, and Chase Street Defendants); (2) Count II: Conversion (v. All Defendants); (3) Count III: Prejudgment Interest, 41 P.S. § 202, et seq. (v. All Defendants); (4) Count IV: Civil Conspiracy (v. All Defendants); and (5) Count V: Piercing the Corporate Veil (v. All Defendants). Plaintiffs request damages "for an amount in excess of Fifty Thousand ($50,000) Dollars, exclusive of interest and costs," "liquidated damages in the amount of 20% of [their] wages," and attorneys' fees. (Id. ¶¶ 58, 70.)

On May 4, 2010, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss the action. On May 28, 2010, after giving Plaintiffs two separate extensions to file a Response to the Motion, Defendants filed a Reply requesting that the Motion to Dismiss be granted as uncontested after Plaintiffs failed to file a Response by May 27, 2010 -- the date when the second extension expired. Prior to the deadline, Plaintiffs' counsel made no attempt to contact opposing counsel or this Court for additional time.

On May 28, 2010, Plaintiffs filed both a Motion to Remand to state court and a Motion for Enlargement of Time to respond to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. On June 1, 2010,we granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss as uncontested pursuant to Local Rule of Civil Procedure 7.1(c) due to: (1) the fact we had still not received a Response from Plaintiffs; (2) Plaintiffs' counsel's disregard for the Motion to Dismiss briefing deadline; (3) Plaintiffs' counsel's unacceptable reasons provided in the Motion for Enlargement of Time for failing to file the brief in a timely fashion; and (4) Plaintiffs' counsel's failure to give opposing counsel or the Court notice that he would not be able to meet the May 27, 2010 deadline. As a result, we dismissed Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice and denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Enlargement of Time. On the same date, Plaintiffs finally responded to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. On June 11, 2010, Plaintiffs filed the outstanding Motion for Reconsideration of the June 1, 2010 Order.


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