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MARIAH BOAT, INC. v. LABORERS

June 17, 1998

MARIAH BOAT, INC. and JIMMY FULKS, Plaintiffs,
v.
LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, RANDALL MAYHEW, and the LABORERS DISTRICT COUNCIL FOR SOUTHERN ILLINOIS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GILBERT

ORDER

 GILBERT, Chief Judge:

 This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Doc. no. 10. The defendants argue for dismissal on the grounds that (1) the plaintiffs' claims are preempted by the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") and (2) the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the pleading requirements under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). The plaintiffs responded to the motion, but a reply was not submitted. See doc. no. 18.

 I. Background

 This case originates from apparent union organization efforts by the defendants, Laborers International Union of North America, Randall Mayhew, and the Laborers District Council for Southern Illinois. The plaintiff, Jimmy Fulks ("Fulks"), claims that Mayhew and the Union intentionally tried to run him and his company, Mariah Boats, Inc. ("Mariah") out of business. As a result of this illegal conduct, the plaintiffs allege a RICO violation and six (6) supplemental state law claims.

 As this case is before the Court on a motion to dismiss, the Court must assume that all facts alleged in the complaint are true. Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 118, 108 L. Ed. 2d 100, 110 S. Ct. 975 (1990); Colfax Corp. v. Ill. State Toll Highway Auth., 79 F.3d 631, 632 (7th Cir. 1996). Accordingly, the facts for purposes of this motion are as follows.

 Mariah is an Illinois corporation that manufactures and sells boats. Jimmy Fulks is the majority owner of Mariah and 50% owner of another related company, Chariot Marine Fabricators & Industrial Corp. Randall Mayhew, sued in this case as an individual and as a representative of the union, is the Regional Organizing Director for the Laborers International. His job duties include organizing non-union employees on behalf of the Laborers International and the District Council.

 According to the complaint, the Laborers International and many of its affiliates have been infiltrated by organized crime, demonstrated by several convictions of union representatives for various violent crimes. Mayhew has expressed an intense personal hatred for Fulks and has repeatedly expressed that he would take whatever steps were necessary to destroy Fulks's reputation. In an attempt to destroy Fulks, Mayhew has attempted to organized the non-union employees working for Mariah and other companies in which Fulks has an ownership interest.

 Under the guise of union organization, Mayhew has taken various steps toward destroying Fulks' reputation in the community. He has disrupted Mariah's manufacturing facilities and dealer shows through mass picketing and leaflet distribution. Much of the information contained in the leaflets was knowingly false, including a claim that Fulks is a drug dealer and that numerous unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Mariah. Mayhew also mailed a letter to each of Mariah's dealers, wherein, under the false auspices of a "Mariah Organizing Committee," he encouraged the dealers to quit selling Mariah boats. Mayhew further stated that Mariah was committing "human rights violations" and that Mariah employees "work in hazardous conditions for little pay and are frequently belittled." In addition to this conduct, Mayhew, on behalf of Laborers International, attempted to suborn perjury from two witnesses in legal proceedings against Mariah.

 As a result of the foregoing conduct, Fulks and Mariah filed this lawsuit. *fn1" The plaintiffs claim that the defendants committed several state torts. They also assert that the conduct amounted to a civil RICO violation, claiming perjury, mail and wire fraud, and a violation of the Hobbs Act as the predicate acts. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs' RICO claim is preempted by federal labor law, and, in the alternative, that it fails to state a cause of action.

 II. Motion to Dismiss Standard

 The purpose of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits of the case. Therefore, when evaluating such a motion, the Court accepts as true the factual allegations of the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Zinermon, 494 U.S. at 118; Colfax Corp., 79 F.3d at 632; Chaney v. Suburban Bus Div. of Regional Transp. Auth., 52 F.3d 623, 626-27 (7th Cir. 1995). Under the "notice pleading" of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "the complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957). Accord Caremark, Inc. v. Coram Healthcare Corp., 113 F.3d 645, 648 (7th Cir. 1997); Chaney, 52 F.3d at 627. Stated another way, the complaint must survive dismissal if the plaintiff could prevail under any set of facts consistent with the allegations. Luckett v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 53 F.3d 871, 873 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 965, 116 S. Ct. 420, 133 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1995). Generally, courts will not grant a motion to dismiss merely because the complaint is vague or lacking in detail. Strauss v. City of Chicago, 760 F.2d 765 (7th Cir. 1985).

 A complaint is not required to allege all, or any, of the facts logically entailed by the claim and the complaint does not fail to state a claim merely because it does not set forth a complete and convincing picture of the alleged wrongdoing. American Nurses' Ass'n v. State of Illinois, 783 F.2d 716, 727 (7th Cir. 1986). Accord Hrubec v. National R.R. Passenger Corp., 981 F.2d 962, 963 (7th Cir. 1992). Nonetheless, the complaint must provide "a short and plain statement of the claim that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517, 113 S. Ct. 1160 (1993) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47).

 III. Analysis

 Count 1 of the Plaintiffs' complaint alleges a violation of the Federal Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962. Counts 2 - 7 contain various state law claims. The Defendants attack only Count 1 because, if the civil RICO charge fails, this Court no longer has subject matter jurisdiction over this case. The defendants first argue that this federal action is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") because the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") has exclusive ...


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