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Darnall v. Dalluge

July 23, 2008

HAROLD DARNALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES DALLUGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Bernthal U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER

In February 2008, Plaintiff Harold Darnall filed a Complaint (#1) against Defendants, James Dalluge, David Kloewer, Randy Johnson, Local Union No. 44 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (hereinafter "Local Union"), Mid-Central Illinois Regional Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (hereinafter "Regional Council"), and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (hereinafter "International Union"). Federal jurisdiction is based on federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the claims arise under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 411(a)(2), 412, and 529) (hereinafter "LMRDA"). The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge.

In April 2008, Defendants Dalluge, Kloewer, Johnson, Local Union, and Regional Council filed a Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (#19). After reviewing the parties' pleadings and memoranda, this Court DENIES Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (#19).

I. Background

Plaintiff alleged the following information in his complaint. Plaintiff is a member of Defendant Local Union, which has its principal office in Champaign, Illinois. (#1, ¶¶ 2-3.) The Local Union is affiliated and bound by the bylaws of Defendant Regional Council, which is located in Springfield, Illinois. (#1, ¶ 4.) The Local Union and Regional Council are subordinate bodies of and bound by the constitution of Defendant International Union, which is located in Washington, D.C. (#1, ¶ 5.) Defendant Dalluge is the Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Business Manager of the Regional Council. (#1, ¶ 7.) Defendant Kloewer is the Business Representative of the Local Union and works in that capacity for the Regional Council. Defendant Dalluge hired Defendant Kloewer. (#1, ¶ 8.) Defendant Randy Johnson is an Organizer affiliated with the Local Union and works in that capacity for the Regional Council. (#1, ¶ 9.) These individual defendants were acting within the scope of their employment with the Regional Council under color of their authority as an officer, employee, or agent of one or more of the union defendants. (#1, ¶ 10.)

Plaintiff alleges that on November 14, 2006, Defendant Kloewer imposed a three-day suspension on Rita Wassom, a clerical employee who worked for the Local Union, for being "abusive and profane" to him in October 2006. (#1, ¶ 12.) Because Ms. Wassom refused to leave before the end of her workday, Kloewer called the police. (#1, ¶ 12.) Kloewer asked the Executive Board of the Local Union to terminate Ms. Wassom's employment, but the Executive Board declined to do so. (#1, ¶ 13.) On November 20, 2006, Defendants Johnson, Kloewer, and Dalluge met with the Executive Board of the Local Union. (#1, ¶ 14.) At that meeting, Dalluge demanded that the Executive Board vote to terminate Ms. Wassom's employment and would not permit anyone to leave the room until they voted to terminate her. (#1, ¶ 14.) Dalluge threatened to take over the Local Union and merge it with two other locals, which would cause the Local Union to lose its pension and health and welfare funds. (#1, ¶ 14.) The Executive Board voted to terminate Ms. Wassom's employment. (#1, ¶ 14.) Plaintiff was not present at this meeting. (#1, ¶ 14.)

On November 28, 2006, Plaintiff circulated a petition to members of the Local Union during break times requesting that Ms. Wassom be reinstated to her position. (#1, ¶ 16.) On December 5, 2006, Defendant Kloewer filed a charge (hereinafter "First Charge") against Plaintiff with Defendant Regional Council. (#1, ¶ 17.) The First Charge alleged that Plaintiff had violated subsections 1, 5, 8, and 13 of Section 51(A) of the constitution of the International Union and Section 10 of the Work Rules of the Regional Council by approaching members during their lunch time and asking them to sign a petition to reinstate Ms. Wassom. (#1, ¶¶ 18-19.)

Later in December 2006, Plaintiff sent a letter to Douglas McCarron, the president of the International Union, informing Defendant International Union about Ms. Wassom's termination, Plaintiff's petition, and the resulting charges against him. (#1, ¶ 20.) By letter dated January 19, 2007, Mr. McCarron denied any responsibility to do anything with regard to the issues in Plaintiff's letter. (#1, ¶ 20.)

In March 2007, while the First Charge was still pending, Defendant Kloewer filed another charge (hereinafter "Second Charge") against Plaintiff alleging that he had violated subsections 1, 8, and 13 of Section 51(A) of the International Union's constitution. (#1, ¶ 26.) The Second Charge was based on Plaintiff's February 2007 letter to Ms. Wassom's attorney describing events that took place during a Local Union meeting and statements made by a Schwann deliveryman at the Local Union office. (#1, ¶¶ 23-25.)

In April 2007, Regional Council delegates met regarding the First Charge. (#1, ¶ 21.) Plaintiff and Defendant Dalluge were present at this meeting. (#1, ¶ 21.) Dalluge told Plaintiff that he would not be permitted to present evidence or speak at this meeting. (#1, ¶ 21.) Plaintiff was "disgusted" with the way he was treated at this meeting, and he did not attend any further proceedings. (#1, ¶ 21.) In May 2007, Dalluge informed Plaintiff that he had been found guilty of the First Charge and had been fined a total of $4,646.50, which Plaintiff has not paid. (#1, ¶ 22.)

On July 17, 2007, Defendant Dalluge informed Plaintiff that he had been found guilty of the Second Charge and had been fined a total of $3,327.47. (#1, ¶ 27.) On July 17, 2007, Plaintiff went to the Local Union to pay his dues. (#1, ¶ 32.) Defendant Johnson told Plaintiff that he would not accept his dues unless Plaintiff first paid the fines for the First and Second Charges. (#1, ¶ 32.) Johnson called Defendant Dalluge, who confirmed that Johnson was not to take Plaintiff's dues. (#1, ¶ 32.)

On July 24, 2007, Defendant Johnson sent Jacobsmeyer Maulden Construction Company, Plaintiff's employer, a letter stating that Plaintiff was no longer a member of the Local Union. (#1, ¶ 33.) Plaintiff never received written notice of his expulsion from the Local Union or the reasons for the expulsion. (#1, ¶ 35.) Plaintiff learned about his membership termination when he reported for work on July 17, 2007, and his supervisor told him that his employment was terminated because he was not a Union member. (#1, ¶ 31.) Later that month, Plaintiff attempted to appeal the Second Charge to the International Union, but received no response. (#1, ¶ 37.)

Plaintiff alleges two claims stemming from these events. First, Plaintiff alleges that the First Charge violated Plaintiff's rights under LMRDA because the circulation of the petition was protected speech under Section 101(a)(2) of LMRDA, and Section 609 of LMRDA prohibits Defendants from disciplining Plaintiff for circulating the petition. (#1, ¶ 39.) Defendant International Union's failure to intervene on Plaintiff's behalf was likewise unlawful. (#1, ¶ 41.) Because Count I raises a free speech claim, Plaintiff alleges that he is not required to exhaust his intra-union remedies prior to instituting this suit. (#1, ¶ 42.) Second, Plaintiff alleges that the Second Charge also violated Plaintiff's rights under LMRDA because Plaintiff's letter to Ms. Wassom's attorney was protected speech under Section 101(a)(2) of LMRDA, and Section 609 of LMRDA prohibits Defendants from disciplining Plaintiff for writing the letter. (#1, ¶ 48.) Defendant International Union's failure to intervene on Plaintiff's behalf or respond to Plaintiff's appeal was likewise unlawful. (#1, ¶ 50.) Because Count II raises a free speech claim, Plaintiff is not required to exhaust his intra-union remedies prior to instituting this suit. (#1, ¶ 51.) Plaintiff seeks union membership ...


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