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JONES v. GES EXPOSITION SERVICES

September 3, 2004.

CURTIS JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
GES EXPOSITION SERVICES, INC., VIAD CORP., FREEMAN DECORATING COMPANY, and CHAMPION EXPOSITION SERVICES, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARK FILIP, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Curtis Jones, an African American carpenter, alleges in his First Amended Complaint, which was filed on April 21, 2003, that Defendants GES Exposition Services, Inc. ("GES"), Viad Corp. ("Viad"), Freeman Decorating Company ("Freeman"), and Champion Exposition Services, Inc. ("Champion") (collectively "Defendants"), have violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"), by failing to hire and/or promote him and a similarly situated class of African American carpenters and by retaliating against him for complaining of discrimination. Plaintiff since moved (well after the deadline that Judge Lefkow set in 2003 for adding parties (D.E. 42)) to amend his complaint to add fifteen claims against seven new defendants. The proposed new defendants (collectively "proposed defendants") include Carpenters Union Local #10 (the "Carpenters Union"), the Chicago and Northeast Illinois Council of Carpenters (the "Council of Carpenters"), Carpenters Union executives Frank Libby and Earl Oliver, the Metropolitan Exposition and Pier Authority (the "Pier Authority"), and attorney Terrance B. Mcgann and the law firm Whitfield & Mcgann, who have variously represented union entities. In addition, eight carpenters ("proposed intervenors") have moved to intervene as plaintiffs in this suit. Two of the proposed intervenors, Mr. Britten and Leonardo Johnson, Jr., have moved to proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel. Another individual (apparently a carpenter) named Anita Moore, who is not a party to this suit and has not moved to intervene, also has moved to proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel. Finally, Defendant Champion has moved to strike the reply brief of one of the proposed intervenors, Mr. Roderick Johnson, filed in support of his motion to intervene. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion to amend is denied, the motion to intervene is denied, the motions to proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel of Mr. Britten and Leonardo Johnson, Jr. are denied as moot, Anita Moore's motions to proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel are denied, and Defendant Champion's motion to strike is denied as moot.

RELEVANT FACTS

  A. The Current Defendants and Claims

  Defendants Champion, Freeman, and GES (Viad is the parent company of GES) are general contractors that provide set-up and tear-down services to trade associations and other organizations that sponsor trade shows or expositions at sites in Chicago such as McCormick Place and Navy Pier. (D.E. 101 at 2; D.E. 34, ¶¶ 11-12.) To perform work such as laying and removing carpet and setting up and breaking down exhibit booths, Defendants hire carpenters on a day-to-day basis. (D.E. 101 at 2; D.E. 34, ¶¶ 10-11.) In his reply in support of his motion to amend, Plaintiff asserts that "the hiring process [of the Defendant contractors] is open to abuse because foreman have great latitude in selecting and hiring." (D.E. 104 at 3.) As noted above, Plaintiff has alleged that Defendants failed to hire and/or promote him because of his race and that Defendants have retaliated against him for complaining of the discrimination. (D.E. 34, ¶ 1.)

  B. The Proposed Additional Defendants and Claims

  With respect to the proposed defendants, the Carpenters Union is the local branch of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, the union to which Plaintiff and, presumably, the proposed intervenors, belong. (D.E. 34, ¶ 10.) According to Plaintiff's proposed Second Amended Complaint (also, "the proposed complaint"), the Council of Carpenters is "a district office of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters," (D.E. 94, ¶ 19), and Frank Libby and Earl Oliver are "union business agents." (Id. ¶ 68.) The Pier Authority is described in the proposed amended complaint as "a body politic and Municipal Corporation of the State of Illinois. . . . Its corporate purpose is to promote, operate and maintain fairs, expositions, meetings and conventions. . . ." (Id. ¶ 15.) Proposed defendant Terrance Mcgann has "represented the carpenters union. . . . [and] was employed under [the law firm of proposed defendant] Whitfield & Gergorio. . . ." (Id. ¶¶ 79-80.)

  In the proposed complaint, Plaintiff alleges that "While defendant [Pier] Authority knows or should know of the racially discriminatory hiring and firing practices of the defendants who set up and operate on the Authority's property, with the defendant Authority's permission, the defendants Authority has refused to take any action to require defendant employers not to engage in such discrimination." (Id. at ¶ 64.) Plaintiff has attempted to state claims against the Pier Authority for "breach of duty[,] Breach of trust, Breach of contract[,] and Failure to Represent," and has alleged that the Pier Authority has violated "Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and 28 U.S.C. § 1331, § 1343(a)(2)(3) and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) and over 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 1983, 1988, 1985(3), 1986 and 18 USC 241, 242." (Id. at 13, ¶ 65.)

  With regard to the Carpenters Union, the Council of Carpenters, and Mr. Libby and Mr. Oliver, the union officials, Plaintiff alleges that they "create a network of persons" who favor white carpenters. (Id. ¶¶ 68, 74.) Plaintiff further alleges that "Unions have an affirmative duty to ensure compliance with Title VII." (Id. ¶ 67.) Plaintiff attempts to state causes of action for "breach of duty, Breach of trust, Breach of contract and Failure to Represent," (id. at 14), against Mr. Libby and Mr. Oliver, attempts to state causes of action for breach of duty, breach of trust, and breach of contract against the Carpenters Union and the Council of Carpenters, (id. at 16), and alleges that these four proposed union defendants violated the same federal statutes allegedly violated by the Pier Authority and also certain CFR provisions. (Id. ¶¶ 71, 77.)

  As to attorney Mcgann and the law firm of Whitfield and Mcgann, Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Mcgann, while employed by Whitfield and Mcgann, "represented the carpenters union before Plaintiff Jones and similarly situated filed an EEOC complaint on June 6, 1996 alleging employment discrimination by trade show contractors" and that "[through]out the litigation in 1997 to present Mr. Mcgann had and has advanced knowledge of the adverse actions in the trade show industry but failed to uphold his ethical and fiduciary duties to the union members namely plaintiff Jones and similarly situated black carpenters." (Id. ¶¶ 79, 81.) Although not entirely clear, it appears that Plaintiff attempts to state claims against Mr. Mcgann and Whitfield and Mcgann for the aforementioned breach of duty, breach of trust, breach of contract, and failure to represent, and Plaintiff asserts that these proposed defendants violated the same federal statutes and regulations that the other proposed defendants allegedly violated. (Id. ¶ 82.)

  C. Litigation History

  In his reply in support of his motion to amend, Plaintiff asserts that the "Defendants (contractors) have maintained a system of hiring . . . [that] has been in practice for decades. . . . As early as 1997 to present the Carpenters Union (etc) and the [Pier Authority] has been aware of the alleged adverse actions by the General contractors in the trade show industry and fail to provide equal protection under the color of the law (Accessory after the fact)." (D.E. 104 at 1-2.) Plaintiff also states that he "for years has attempted to right the wrong that has become a common practice and purposeful ignorance by all Defendants and will continue to d[o] so until a remedy is rendered (redress)." (Id. at 2-3.)

  In this regard, Plaintiff and proposed intervenor Roderick Johnson have participated in various lawsuits involving certain of the Defendants and proposed defendants since 1997. On January 22, 1997, Plaintiff, Roderick Johnson, and four other African American carpenters filed a lawsuit against GES alleging that the company discriminated and retaliated against them in violation of Title VII and Section 1981. (D.E. 1 in 97-C-7405.) In that suit, the district court (Plunkett, J.) granted summary judgment in favor of GES, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. See Thompson v. GES Exposition Services, No. 01-2055, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 2194, at **7-9 (7th Cir. Feb. 6, 2002). On October 22, 1997, Plaintiff, Roderick Johnson, and four other carpenters filed another suit against the Council of Carpenters and the Carpenters Union, alleging that these entities "knew of G.E.S.'s discrimination [and] employment practice[s] and failed to take action. . . ." (D.E. 1 in 97-C-7406 at 2.) In that case, which proceeded before Judge Manning, the attorneys who were appointed to represent Plaintiff and Roderick Johnson moved to withdraw on grounds that it had become evident that Plaintiff and Roderick Johnson could afford to pay for legal representation. (D.E. 102 and 112 in 97-C-7406.) Judge Manning granted the motions to withdraw. (D.E. 111 and 113 in 97-C-7406). Eventually, after the Council of Carpenters and Carpenters Union indicated that they would seek summary judgment on the claims of Plaintiff and Roderick Johnson, Plaintiff and Roderick Johnson voluntarily dismissed their case in 97-C-7406 on December 2, 2003. (D.E. 121 in 97-C-7406.)

  Plaintiff filed the instant suit, on an individual basis, against Champion, Freeman, and GES on August 30, 2002. (D.E. 1.) The case was initially assigned to Judge Lefkow. On January 29, 2003, Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint to allege a class action, to add as defendants the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, the Council of Carpenters and the Carpenters Union, and to consolidate his case with another pending discrimination suit brought by Roderick Johnson against GES, Viad, and Freeman, 02-C-7096, that was proceeding before Judge Conlon.*fn1 (D.E. 25.) In that motion, Plaintiff asserted that he and Roderick Johnson "have sought after assistance from the Union for [m]any years[.] The Union has a ethical and legal responsibility to help any member who request [i]t" and asserted that the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, the Council of Carpenters and the Carpenters Union violated Title VII, among other statutes, and that those entities had engaged in conduct amounting to, among other things, "[f]ailure to represent, breach of contract, breach of duty, breach of trust. . . ." (Id. at 2-3.) Plaintiff also stated in that motion that he "and Mr. Johnson was told in mid December of 2002 by Terrance Mcgann Union Representative (legal coun[sel]) that he and [F]rank Libby (President of Local #10 and assistant to President of District Council) would help rectify our situation" but that Mr. Mcgann and Mr. ...


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