subordinate bodies responded to the show cause order.
On January 17, 1990, the New York court issued a well-considered opinion enjoining the Chicago plaintiffs from pursuing this action. United States v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, Warehousemen and Helpers of Am., 728 F. Supp. 1032 (S.D.N.Y. 1990) ("the January 17, 1990 opinion"). The New York court concluded that the All Writs Act permits a federal court, under special circumstances, to enjoin a parallel proceeding and to bring before it parties otherwise not subject to its jurisdiction. The court viewed the consent decree as the jurisdictional nexus over matters relating to its implementation.
As a practical matter, the New York court perceived that the consent decree would be undermined unless suits were barred in other forums. First, the consent decree may be subjected to inconsistent interpretations. Second, the multitude of IBT subordinate entities could subvert IBT election reform by bogging down court officers in duplicative or harassing litigation. Third, the court reasoned that judicial economy would be served if similar issues were not litigated multiple times in different districts. The New York court ordered the remaining plaintiffs in this lawsuit to dismiss their action, or to acquiesce in the motion to transfer their suit to the New York court.
The January 17, 1990 opinion also resolved the issue whether IBT subordinate entities were bound by the consent decree. The New York court concluded that a recent Supreme Court decision, Martin v. Wilks, 490 U. S. 755, 109 S. Ct. 2180, 104 L. Ed. 2d 835 (1989), does not prevent application of the consent decree to IBT subordinate entities. The New York court found that the IBT is a strongly centralized union that has secured itself against weaknesses typical of confederations. The court concluded that IBT adequately represented the interests of the local unions and other subordinate entities when it joined the consent decree. Accordingly, the court entered a permanent injunction barring the Chicago plaintiffs from pursuing this action.
The Chicago plaintiffs contest Holland's motions to dismiss and to transfer. Their four-count complaint alleges violations of section 101 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1) (Counts I and II), section 403 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 483 (Counts I and II), section 301 of the LMRDA, 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185 (Counts III and IV) and the Fifth Amendment (Counts I-IV).
In Count I, the Chicago plaintiffs contend that the consent decree amended the IBT constitution without complying with Article III, §§ 8, 9 and Article IX, § 7 and in derogation of the plenary authority of the delegates to an IBT convention as set out in various provisions of the IBT constitution. They also contend that the consent decree amended the bylaws of the local unions without a membership vote. In Count II, the Chicago plaintiffs claim that the consent decree as interpreted by the New York court violates various IBT constitution provisions. In Count III, they contend that enforcement of the consent decree "constitutes violations of contract, viz., provisions of the 1986 IBT constitution alleged herein." Second Amended Complaint, Count III para. 20. Finally, in Count IV, the Chicago plaintiffs assert that enforcement of the consent decree "constitutes violations of contract, viz., provisions of Chicago plaintiffs Local Unions Bylaws alleged herein." Second Amended Complaint, Count IV para. 20.
II. The Injunction Against The Chicago Plaintiffs
The threshold and dispositive issue in this case is whether this court should entertain an action that violates a court order entered by another federal court. The New York court enjoined the Chicago plaintiffs from pursuing this litigation in this court. The New York court afforded the Chicago plaintiffs two opportunities to contest the injunction before that forum. In November 1989, counsel for the Chicago plaintiffs failed to respond to an order to show cause. In December 1989, the New York court issued a nationwide order to show cause to IBT subordinates. The court concluded that the IBT subordinates were subject to the consent decree. The New York court also concluded that it had exclusive jurisdiction to interpret the consent decree. Accordingly, the New York court enjoined the Chicago plaintiffs from pursuing this lawsuit.
In order to reach a decision on the merits of the complaint, this court must either overrule the New York court or ignore the injunction. In certain circumstances, a federal court may enjoin proceedings in another federal court. See, Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843-844 (district court exercised sound discretion in enjoining later filed declaratory judgment action in another federal court). See also, Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi v. Big Rivers Elec. Corp., 804 F.2d 338 (5th Cir. 1986). This court concludes that it may not decide whether the New York court properly exercised its power under the All Writs Act because the appropriate forum for review of the injunction is the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Moreover, in the interests of comity, this court shall not ignore the well-considered action of the New York court. As a practical matter, an obvious conflict between this court and the New York court would arise if this court granted the declaratory and injunctive relief requested by the plaintiffs. A district court may dismiss a declaratory or injunctive suit when the same issues are pending in litigation elsewhere. Bergh v. State of Washington, 535 F.2d 505, 507 (9th Cir. 1976) citing Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 87 S. Ct. 1507, 18 L. Ed. 2d 681 (1967).
"The proper exercise of restraint in the name of comity keeps to a minimum the conflicts between courts administering the same law, conserves judicial time and expense, and has a salutary effect upon the prompt and efficient administration of justice."
Bergh, 535 F.2d at 507 quoting Brittingham v. Commissioner, 451 F.2d 315, 318 (5th Cir. 1971). The New York court entertained the action that engendered the decree and subsequent actions interpreting the decree. The New York court has unique expertise regarding the decree. The only appropriate disposition of this action in light of the New York court's injunction is dismissal.
Plaintiffs' motion to reconsider this court's order of February 9, 1990 is granted. Holland's motion to dismiss is granted.