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Service Employees International Union Local 1 v. Digby's Detective and Security Agency

March 18, 2009

SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION LOCAL 1, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DIGBY'S DETECTIVE AND SECURITY AGENCY, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James B. Zagel United States District Judge

Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Background

In 2008, Plaintiff, Service Employees International Union Local 1 ("Local 1"), filed a complaint against Defendant, Digby's Detective and Security Agency, Inc. ("Digby's"), for breach of a Collective Bargaining Agreement. This matter comes before the court on Digby's motion for summary judgment, which argues that Local 1's breach of contract claim is barred by the doctrine of res judicata. For the reasons explained below, I grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits" indicate that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party sets forth the basis for summary judgment, the non-moving party must offer specific material facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 323-24; Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598 (7th Cir. 2000). The non-moving party's material facts must affect the outcome of the suit, Insolia, 216 F.3d at 598-99, and cannot consist of "[c]onclusory allegations" or rest on mere pleadings alone, Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 733 (7th Cir. 2003). I must conduct this determination by construing the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Smith v. City of Chicago, 242 F.3d 737, 742 (7th Cir. 2001).

III. Statement of Relevant Facts

Plaintiff, Local 1, is a labor organization in Chicago, Illinois that represents the interests of security officers. As part of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between certain employers and Local 1, the employers pay contributions to the Local 25 Service Employees International Union Welfare Fund and Local 25 Service Employees International Union Participating Employers Pension Trust ("Trust"), and Local 1 represents the employers' workers for collective bargaining purposes. Defendant, Digby's, is an employer bound by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Under the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Digby's was required to contribute monthly payments to the fund based on the number of hours its security officers worked. Article XI of the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides that any grievances not settled by the parties and not decided by a unanimous decision by the Joint Arbitration Board may be appealed for arbitration. Throughout the period of the agreement, the Trust suspected that Digby's repeatedly failed to submit accurate contribution reports and the required Fund payments.

In 2006, the Trust filed a suit in federal court in this district ("Suit I") to recover Digby's unpaid contributions for the period September 9, 2005, to December 9, 2005, for work performed at Chicago Public Libraries. The Trust was the only named plaintiff in Suit I and the suit did not mention the period at issue in this case, July 1, 2004, to December 31, 2004. The 2006 suit proceeded to a bench trial on April 22, 2008, where Judge Pallmeyer found in favor of the Trust in the amount of $37,618.19, including liquidated damages and attorneys' fees. Digby's paid the full amount of the judgment, and the Trust filed a Satisfaction of Judgment on August 7, 2008.

A hearing was held before an arbitrator on March 21, 2007, pursuant to Article XI, where Local I complained of additional unpaid contributions for the period July 1, 2004, through December 31, 2004 for work performed by Digby's security guards at Chicago Housing Authority facilities. The arbitrator issued his decision on June 11, 2007, ordering Digby's to make all unpaid contributions from the 2004 period. Digby's refused to make the payments.

On September 29, 2008, Plaintiff filed the current action against Defendant before this court, seeking recovery for unpaid contributions for the 2004 period. Plaintiff alleges that jurisdiction is based on ERISA and § 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act (29 U.S.C. §§ 185 and 1337). Count I seeks recovery for the unpaid months in 2004, plus interest, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees.

IV. Discussion

Defendant moves for summary judgment, arguing Suit I has a res judicata effect on Plaintiff's pending breach of contract claim. Defendant contends that Count I is based on its breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Digby's and Local 1, which was also the basis for Suit I. Because Suit I involved a party with the same interests as Local I and the cause of action in both suits is the same, Defendant argues that Plaintiff should be barred from bringing the ...


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