United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E. D
June 18, 1982
PARK ELECTRIC COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, LOCAL 701, AFL-CIO, A LABOR ORGANIZATION, JERRY O'CONNOR, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS BUSINESS AGENT FOR LOCAL 701 AND ROBERT RYAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS BUSINESS AGENT FOR LOCAL 701, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.
This cause comes before the Court on defendants' motion to
dismiss plaintiff's complaint, or, in the alternative, for a
more definite statement. F.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 12(e).
On November 24, 1981, the plaintiff, Park Electric Company,
filed a three-count complaint against the defendants, Local
701 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
(I.B.E.W.) and two of its business agents, Jerry O'Connor and
Count I of the complaint alleges that the defendants engaged
in an illegal secondary boycott in violation of § 8(b)(4) of
the National Labor Relations Act (N.L.R.A.),
29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4). Count II alleges that the defendants and
co-conspirators combined to restrain and monopolize trade and
commerce in violation of the Sherman and Clayton Acts,
15 U.S.C. § 1, 2 and 4. Finally, Count III alleges that the
defendants have tortiously interfered with the plaintiff's
contractual relationship with a third party, in violation of
Illinois common law.
The defendants first argue that Count I of the complaint,
charging an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4) of the
N.L.R.A. and thus a violation of § 303 of the Act, fails to
state a cause of action under § 303 against the individual
business agents, O'Connor and Ryan. The Court agrees that § 303
only prohibits a "labor organization" from engaging in any
conduct or activity that is defined as an unfair labor
practice. The acts of an individual union member are not
regulated by § 303. Broadmoor Homes v. Cement Masons Local 594,
507 F. Supp. 55, 57 (N.D.Cal. 1981); Bacino v. American Fed. of
Musicians, 407 F. Supp. 548, 551 (N.D.Ill. 1976). Therefore,
the individual defendants must be dismissed from Count I of
Next, the union argues that Count I of the complaint must be
dismissed as to it as well. It is claimed that this count is
bereft of factual content and contains mere conclusionary
statements, thus requiring it to be dismissed for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. F.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). While the complaint states that the defendants
encouraged others to strike in an attempt to coerce a general
contractor to stop doing business with the plaintiff
(Complaint, Paragraphs 9-10), the defendants maintain that,
because there are no allegations as to any specific acts which
demonstrate this coercion, the complaint is fatally defective.
This Court believes that plaintiff's complaint fully complies
with the notice pleading requirements of F.R.Civ.P. 8(a) as
interpreted by the Supreme Court in Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957) (Rule 8(a)
requires only that defendant be given "fair notice of what the
plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.") A
complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim
unless it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove
no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him
to relief. Ashbook v. Hoffman, 617 F.2d 474, 475 (7th Cir.
1980). The defendants' argument is thus without merit, as the
Federal Rules do not require a claimant to set out in detail
the facts upon which he bases his claim. The burden of filling
in details and other relevant facts, such as specific acts of
coercion or threats, can be left to discovery and other
pretrial procedures. Conley 355 U.S. at 47-48, 78 S.Ct. at
102-103; Roberts v. Acres, 495 F.2d 57, 58-59 (7th Cir. 1974).
For the foregoing reasons, the defendants' motion to dismiss
Count I is denied.
The same factors compel denial of defendants' motion to
dismiss Count II's conspiracy claim. Under Rule 8(a) a claim
of conspiracy, like any other, requires only a "short and
plain statement" of the charge.
Nonetheless, this Court does not believe that plaintiff's
complaint, which contains a bare allegation of the existence
of a conspiracy, should be allowed to stand as is. The
defendants have correctly noted that the complaint does not
specifically name a party to the conspiracy, other than the
defendants, and that all alleged acts were those of the
defendants alone. Thus, despite the plaintiff's claim of an
alleged conspiracy with unnamed "union contractors in the
Chicago suburban area," the defendants are entitled to more
specific information on the basis of which they may draft an
This Court believes that the above-mentioned deficiency is
appropriately handled by means of defendants' motion under
F.R. Civ.P. 12(e), rather than Rule 12(b)(6).*fn2
Gillibeau v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 430 (9th Cir.
1969). Rule 12(e) provides that "if a pleading . . . is so
vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required
to frame a responsive pleading, he may move for a more definite
statement before interposing his responsive pleading."
Therefore, with regard to the conspiracy claim in Count II, the
defendants' motion for a more definite statement is granted.
Finally, this Court turns to Count III of the complaint,
which alleges tortious interference with a contract in
violation of Illinois common law. The defendants argue that
this state remedy is preempted by federal labor law, and that,
as a result, Count III must be dismissed. The Court fully
It has become well established that state remedies for
business-related torts are generally preempted by federal law,
since most such claims are based on conduct capable of being
characterized as unfair labor practices under § 8 of the
N.L.R.A. California State Council of Carpenters v. Associated
General Contractors, Inc., 648 F.2d 527, 540 (9th Cir. 1980),
cert. gr. ___ U.S. ___, 102 S.Ct. 998, 71 L.Ed.2d 292 (1982).
"The Supreme Court has adopted a broad rule of
federal preemption under the labor laws,
requiring preemption not only of laws which might
interfere with federally protected activities,
but also preempting many state remedies which are
basically consistent with the aims of federal
Id., see also R. Gorman, Labor Law 776-780 (West 1976).
It is true that the Supreme Court has acknowledged a limited
exception to the general rule of preemption of state
regulation. In San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon,
359 U.S. 236, 79 S.Ct. 773, 3 L.Ed.2d 775 (1959), the Court
described the exceptional case as one
". . . where the regulated conduct touched
interests so deeply rooted in local feeling and
responsibility that, in the absence of compelling
congressional direction, we could not infer that
Congress had deprived the States of the power to
359 U.S. at 244, 79 S.Ct. at 779. Specific examples have been
found to include those cases where the conduct involved acts
of physical violence or concerted conduct imminently
threatening violence. In such situations, state tort remedies
have been allowed to supplement remedies provided by federal
law. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715
, 86 S.Ct. 1130,
16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966); Garmon, supra; U. A. W. v. Russell,
356 U.S. 634
, 78 S.Ct. 932, 2 L.Ed.2d 1030 (1958).
The case presently before the Court does not fit the
exception. No violent conduct or threat of such conduct is
alleged. In fact, plaintiff has merely attempted in Count III
to recharacterize his claim for damages in Count II (based on
conduct which, if proven, would constitute a direct violation
of § 8(b)(4) of the N.L.R.A.) as a state-law based action for
business losses. This, under the doctrine of preemption, he may
Accordingly, the defendants' motion to dismiss with respect
to Counts I and II is denied, and motion to dismiss as to
Count III is granted. Defendants' motion for a more definite
statement is granted with regard to Count II.