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TITAN INT'L, INC. v. BECKER

October 31, 2001

TITAN INTERNATIONAL, INC., ET. AL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GEORGE BECKER, ET. AL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge.

  ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint (d/e 15, d/e 19, d/e 21). Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Amended Complaint claims that Defendants engaged in racketeering activities in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et. seq. Plaintiffs in this case include Titan International, Inc., Titan Tire Corporation, and Titan Tire Corporation of Natchez. These Plaintiffs engage in the business of manufacturing off-highw ay tires. Plaintiff Titan Wheel Corporation of Illinois manufacturers off-highway wheels. Defendants include the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), USWA Districts 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, USWA Local 164, USWA Local 303, and USWA Titan International Council (USWA's Titan Council), which Plaintiffs allege encompasses each of the aforementioned groups, and various individual officers and members of the USWA (hereinafter Individual Defendants). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are DENIED. FACTS

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants participated in racketeering activities in violation of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). 18 U .S.C. § 1961 et. seq. Plaintiffs allege that each racketeering activity was " participated in, authorized, or ratified" by one or more Defendants, and that each Defendant was a member of one or more enterprises. Am. Compl. ¶ 76.

Plaintiffs allege four enterprises in the Amended Complaint: Steelworkers Enterprise, Steelworkers Pension Enterprise, Titan Tire Enterprise, and Titan Tire of Natchez Enterprise.

A. Alleged Enterprises

1. Steelworkers Enterprise

The first enterprise referenced in the Amended Complaint is the "Steelworkers Enterprise." In the Amended Complaint, each Defendant is included as a member of this enterprise, but Plaintiffs also allege that the enterprise included parties unaware of Defendants' actions. Am. Compl. ¶ 79. Plaintiffs state that this enterprise is an association-in-fact enterprise.*fn1 Plaintiffs claim that this enterprise had the legitimate purpose of engaging in labor negotiations for workers, but that Defendants simultaneously used this enterprise "to further their illegitimate purpose of extorting money and property from Titan." Am. Compl. ¶ 78.

Plaintiffs stated that this enterprise will continue indefinitely. Am. Compl. ¶ 85.

2. Steelworkers Pension Enterprise

The second enterprise referenced by Plaintiffs is the "Steelworkers Pension Enterprise." Am. Compl. ¶ 87. Plaintiffs state that all Defendants, as well as the non-party Steelworkers Pension Trust, were members of this enterprise. Plaintiffs state that this is also an association-in-fact enterprise. Plaintiffs allege that the legitimate purpose of Steelworkers Pension Enterprise was to provide cost-effective and qualified pension plans for Steelworker members, retirees, and their family members. However, Plaintiffs claim that this enterprise conspired to extort money from them. Am. Compl. ¶ 87. Plaintiffs allege that because the Steelworkers Pension Enterprise engaged in legitimate, as well as illegitimate activities, it qualifies as an enterprise separate a nd apart from a pattern of racketeering activity. Am. Compl. ¶ 94.

Plaintiffs allege that this enterprise will continue into the future. Am. Compl. ¶ 95.

3. Titan Tire Enterprise

The third alleged enterprise is referred to in the Amended Complaint as the "Titan Tire Enterprise." Am. Compl. ¶ 97. This alleged enterprise consists of Titan Tire Corporation.

Plaintiffs state that Defendants conspired to maintain an interest in or control of this enterprise through "a pattern of racketeering activity." Am. Compl. 697.

4. Titan Tire of Natchez Enterprise

The fourth enterprise alleged is the " Titan Tire of Natchez Enterprise" consisting solely of Titan Tire Corporation of Natchez. Plaintiffs state that Defendants also conspired to acquire or maintain an interest in or control of the Titan Tire of Natchez Enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. Am. Compl. ¶ 98.

B. Plaintiffs' Allegations of Extortion

(a) lifetime medical benefits for all retired Titan employees who were members of the USWA, which would have cost Titan millions of dollars;
(b) unfreezing the pension plan of Titan's predecessor at the Des Moines facility or, in the alternative, substantial contributions by Titan to the Steelworkers Pension Trust;
(c) an increase in wages for those Titan employees who were represented by the USWA;
(d) Titan's express agreement that it be neutral with respect to the USWA's attempts to represent the employees at those Titan facilities that were not unionized and whose employees were not represented by the USWA;
(e) dues from USWA members or prospective USWA members employed by Titan.

Am. Compl. ¶ 102.

Defendants implemented the extortion by "making numerous bomb threats, committing numerous acts of physical violence and property damage, filing and prosecuting numerous frivolous and objectively baseless workers' compensation claims, and unlawfully interfering with Titan's existing and prospective business relations." Am. Compl. ¶ 2. Plaintiffs state that each Defendant knowingly "participated in, authorized, or ratified the racketeering activity." Am. Compl. ¶ 103.

6. Bomb Threats

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants made bomb threats to Titan*fn2 facilities in: Quincy, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; and Natchez, Mississippi. Bomb threats were received on twelve separate occasions, and no Titan facility received a bomb threat before the strikes by Defendants began. Am. Compl. ΒΆ 105. Plaintiffs state that each time a Titan facility received a bomb threat, that facility was forced to evacuate employees and shut down ...


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