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Parkland Environmental Group Inc. v. Laborers' International Union of North America

May 11, 2007

PARKLAND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP INC., AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION PLAINTIFF,
v.
LABORERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, LABORERS' LOCAL 477 DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Laborers' International Union of North America, Laborers' Local 477's (LIU) Motion to Dismiss Complaint to Vacate Arbitration Award or In the Alternative Motion to Stay Federal Cause (d/e 7) (Defendant's Motion to Dismiss). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is DENIED.

Plaintiff Parkland Environmental Group, Inc. (Parkland) filed the instant Complaint to Vacate Arbitration Award (d/e 1) on October 17, 2006. Parkland brought suit asking the Court to vacate the arbitration award issued on July 18, 2006. The facts as alleged in the Complaint are as follows. Parkland is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Springfield, Illinois. LIU is a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). LIU maintains its principal place of business in Springfield, Illinois.

On or about March 22, 2004, Parkland and Central Laborers' Pension Fund executed a Participation Agreement which provided, among other things, that the extent of Parkland's participation in the pension fund was limited to the "White Oaks Mall Project only." Complaint, ¶ 8. The Participation Agreement was initialed and agreed to by LIU's business agent Brad Schaive, on behalf of LIU.

On April 1, 2004, based on assurances from Schaive, Parkland entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Central Illinois Builders/Southern and Central Illinois Laborer's District Council (CIB/SCILDC). Parkland entered into the CBA based on Schaive's representation to Dave Stowers, a principal of Parkland, that the scope of the CBA would be limited to a "Project-by-Project" or "Project Specific" basis, and that Parkland's obligation under the CBA would be limited to the "Washington Street" building project. Complaint, ¶ 9. As of the filing of the present Complaint, LIU has not provided Parkland with a copy of the original CBA that was executed by the parties.

On or about May 12, 2004, the Central Laborer's Pension Fund confirmed that the work Parkland performed on the White Oaks Mall was on a project specific basis only. In the spring of 2006, Parkland performed work on the Furrow's building, which is located in Springfield, Illinois.

On May 30, 2006, LIU filed a grievance against Parkland, alleging that it violated the terms of the CBA by performing work on the Furrow's building and the Springfield Housing Authority, without union labor, as required under the CBA. In response to this filing, Parkland objected and informed LIU that it was not in violation of the CBA, which provided that Parkland was bound by the CBA on a project-by-project basis only, and that the CIB/SCILDC had confirmed, at the time of execution of the CBA, that "Parkland was neither a member of the CIB/SCILDC, nor had Parkland assigned any bargaining rights to the CIB/SCILDC." Complaint, ¶ 16.

The dispute concerning the parties' obligations under the CBA was referred to a grievance/arbitration committee. On or about July 18, 2006, the committee found that Parkland was a party to the CBA for the works listed in the grievance filed by LIU and, therefore, imposed an award of $21,016.00 against it. Parkland claims that it was never a party to the CBA for the works identified in the grievance, thereby rendering the arbitration award void.

Parkland asserts that this Court's subject matter jurisdiction arises under § 301 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. § 1, et seq., and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1337.

On September 8, 2006, LIU filed a Petition to Confirm and Enforce Arbitration Award in the Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Sangamon County, Illinois (Case No. 2006-MR-000495). See Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Exh. A, Petition to Confirm & Enforce Arbitration Award. In the state court action, LIU named Parkland as the Respondent. On September 28, 2006, Parkland filed a "Section 2-619 Motion to Dismiss" in the state action, seeking to dismiss LIU's Petition on the grounds that federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving interpretations of collective bargaining agreements and that the state law claims are preempted under the LMRA. See Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Exh. B, Section 2-619 Motion to Dismiss.

On October 17, 2006, Parkland filed the instant action in this Court, asking the Court to vacate the arbitration award. Parkland did not attempt to remove LIU's state court action to federal court; rather, it filed a separate action in this Court. LIU has filed the instant Motion to Dismiss.

ANALYSIS

LIU moves to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). A motion under 12(b)(1) challenges the court's subject matter jurisdiction. In analyzing such a motion, the court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those allegations in favor of the plaintiff. Long v. Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). In addition, the court may look beyond jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view additional evidence submitted on the issue of jurisdiction. Id. Plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that subject matter jurisdiction exists. United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chemical Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2003).

LIU asserts that Parkland's Complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 12(b)(1), because: (1) Parkland failed to timely remove the state court action to federal court prior to filing the instant Complaint; (2) an identical action involving the same parties and issues is currently pending in the state court; and (3) Parkland voluntarily agreed to the state court's jurisdiction over the claims arising from ...


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