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CHAUFFEURS, LOCAL 301 v. HOLLAND

March 12, 1990

CHAUFFEURS, TEAMSTERS & HELPERS, LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, LOCAL 301, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL H. HOLLAND, Election Officer, Defendant


Suzanne B. Conlon, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONLON

SUZANNE B. CONLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Plaintiffs Chauffeurs, Teamsters & Helpers, Lake County, Illinois, Local 301, et al., *fn1" ("the Chicago plaintiffs") filed suit against Michael H. Holland ("Holland"), an election officer appointed pursuant to a consent decree between the United States and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("IBT"). The consent decree, entered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Edelstein, J.) ("the New York court"), provided for extensive changes in the nominating and election procedures for IBT officers. Under the consent decree, no final judgment has been entered. Judge Edelstein retains jurisdiction over the implementation of the consent decree and disputes over its implementation.

 The Chicago plaintiffs filed this action directly attacking the New York court's consent decree. The New York court enjoined the Chicago plaintiffs from pursuing this action except to dismiss the complaint. The Chicago plaintiffs have not complied with the New York court's order. Holland moves to dismiss the complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Alternatively, Holland moves to transfer the action to the New York court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

 Plaintiffs' response to Holland's motion to dismiss was received by the court several days after the filing deadline. By then, the court had dismissed the complaint because of plaintiffs' default. After plaintiffs' delinquent brief was filed, the court treated the response as a motion to reconsider. Holland was granted an extension of time to file a response to the motion to reconsider. The motion to reconsider is granted and the motion to dismiss is reviewed anew.

 I. Background

 In June 1988, the United States of America ("the government") filed a civil action in the New York court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") against IBT and its officers and executive board. The parties reached a settlement agreement prior to trial providing for a consent decree.

 The officers of the IBT consist of the General President ("President"), General Secretary-Treasurer ("Secretary-Treasurer"), sixteen Vice Presidents-International Representatives ("Vice Presidents") and three Trustees-International Representatives ("Trustees"). These officers constitute the General Executive Board. Under the IBT constitution, delegates from local unions elect IBT officers at a convention. Each local union is entitled to at least one delegate. Larger local unions are entitled to more delegates. Delegates are chosen first from the elected officers of the local unions and then, if additional delegates are needed, from elected business agents and non-salaried elected officers of the local unions.

 The consent decree established a new election process: (1) direct rank and file secret ballot elections for 1991 delegates to the IBT international convention; (2) secret ballot delegate voting for nomination of the IBT President, Secretary-Treasurer and Vice Presidents and (3) direct rank and file secret ballot voting on the nominees. The consent decree provided for the New York court to appoint an administrator, investigator and election officer (collectively "the court officers") to oversee differing aspects of the operations of the IBT, with the election officer, Holland, to supervise the new IBT nomination and election process.

 The consent decree provides that no final judgment is to be entered on the RICO action prior to the satisfactory completion and implementation of the terms and conditions of the order. Consent decree paras. 16, 17. The consent decree grants the New York court "exclusive jurisdiction to decide any and all issues relating to the administrator's actions or authority. . . ." Consent decree para. 16. The New York court has resolved disputes between IBT and the administrator regarding the consent decree. In October 1989, the administrator, Frederick Lacey, filed an application with the New York court to define the scope of the election officer's authority under the consent decree. On October 18, 1989, the New York court issued an opinion concluding that the election officer had broad powers to institute meaningful election reforms. United States v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, Warehousemen and Helpers of Am., 723 F. Supp. 203 (S.D.N.Y. 1989).

 The Chicago plaintiffs brought this action on November 17, 1989. On November 22, the New York court ordered the Chicago plaintiffs to show cause why the court should not enjoin them from taking any further action in connection with the Chicago lawsuit. Daniel Ligurotis was a party to the action in New York and signed the consent decree. Ligurotis was one of the Chicago plaintiffs. The New York court ordered Ligurotis to show cause why he should not be found in contempt. Of the Chicago plaintiffs, only Ligurotis responded to the show cause order.

 The New York court concluded that the Chicago lawsuit constituted an attempt to subvert and frustrate the consent decree and subsequent court orders interpreting the consent decree. Pursuant to its powers under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, and the court's inherent equity powers, the New York court enjoined the Chicago plaintiffs, including Daniel Ligurotis, from proceeding except to file a notice of voluntary dismissal. The Chicago plaintiffs have not complied with the New York court's order. The New York court found Ligurotis in civil contempt by reason of his involvement in this lawsuit. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stayed penalties assessed against Ligurotis and granted an expedited appeal.

 On November 29, 1989, the Chicago plaintiffs amended their complaint to remove Daniel Ligurotis as a plaintiff, but failed to dismiss the action as instructed by the New York court. On December 15, 1989, the New York court issued an order requiring all subordinate IBT entities, over 700 in number, to show cause why an injunction should not be entered under the All Writs Act preventing them from filing any suit seeking to adjudicate matters relating to the consent decree anywhere except before the New York court. Many 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 ...


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