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Smart v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

March 24, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge


I. Introduction

Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 53), filed by defendants International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 702 ("IBEW 702"), Christopher Grant, and Schuchat, Cook & Werner ("Schuchat"). Plaintiff Ronald Smart d/b/a Paschall Electric ("Smart" or "Paschall Electric") has filed an opposing Response (Doc. 54). The issues have been adequately briefed by the Parties for this Court to determine herein.

This case is back on remand from the Seventh Circuit. On December 3, 2007, the Court issued an order (Doc. 32), granting two separate motions to dismiss (Docs. 13 & 15), thereby dismissing Plaintiff's claims of legal malpractice and "unwarranted" (malicious) prosecution. It also found Plaintiff's claim for a violation of the Illinois Antitrust Act, 740 ILL.COMP.STAT. 10/2, was completely preempted by the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"). Plaintiff thereafter appealed the judgment. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for legal malpractice and unwarranted prosecution. See Smart v. Local 702 Int'l Broth. of Elec. Workers 562 F.3d 798 (7th Cir. 2009). It also found that Plaintiff's Illinois Antitrust claim was preempted by federal law. Id.

However, in analyzing whether subject matter jurisdiction existed, the Seventh Circuit believed that Plaintiff's factual allegations sounded of a claim of secondary boycotting, thereby arguably falling within the coverage of section 8(b)(4) of the NLRA. Id. at 806-07 (citing 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4)). Further, it found that "Congress has provided an explicit means of redressing alleged violations of section 158(b)(4) through section 187 of Title 29 . . . [and] has indicated that it intended causes of action under section 187 to be treated in the same manner as those arising under section 185." Id. at 808. Based on this finding, the Seventh Circuit held that "section 187(b) completely preempts state-law claims related to secondary boycott activities described in section 158(b)(4); it provides an exclusive federal cause of action for the redress of such illegal activity." Id. As such, the Seventh Circuit remanded the case in order for this Court to address Plaintiff's secondary boycott claim under 29 U.S.C. § 187. It further instructed this Court to allow Plaintiff to amend his complaint so that he may conform his pleadings with their findings. Id. at 808-09. Plaintiff thereafter was granted leave to file his Second Amended Complaint. Defendants now seek dismissal. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motion is granted. However, the Court finds a viable claim remains against IBEW 702.

II. Background

Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 52) consists of one count against all Defendants for a violation of 29 U.S.C. § 187. The factual allegations consist of the following:

Plaintiff, operating as a sole proprietor and doing business as Paschall Electric, alleges that on or about January 20, 2003, he submitted a proposal to do electrical work for John Stoecklin, at his place of business known as "Extreme Sports," located in Marion, Illinois. Barnett Electric submitted a bid for the same job, estimating its costs at approximately $4,500.00 more than Plaintiff's bid. Stoecklin accepted Plaintiff's bid. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant IBEW 702 contacted Stoecklin. A business agent for IBEW 702, Mr. Dorris, informed Stoecklin that the project would be shut down if he used Plaintiff, a non union electrician, rather than a union electrician. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Dorris told Stoecklin that Ameren CIPS would not provide a power hook up to his place of business if he continued to use Plaintiff. Because this electrical work had to be completed prior to the other contractors being able to complete their work on Extreme Sports, Stoeklin reluctantly asked Plaintiff to surrender the job to Barnett Electric.

III. Discussion

A. Legal Standard

When ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(6), the Court must look to the complaint to determine whether it satisfies the threshold pleading requirements under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 8. Rule 8 states that a complaint need only contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED.R.CIV. P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court held that Rule 8 requires a complaint to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face" to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In other words, the Supreme Court explained it was "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' [by providing] more than labels and conclusions, [because] a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do . . . ." Id. at 555-56 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.' " Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S.---, --- 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Recently, in Iqbal, the Supreme Court made clear that the federal pleading standard under Rule 8 as discussed in its Twombly opinion applies "for all civil actions." Id. at ---, 129 S.Ct. at 1953. Iqbal identified the "two working principles" underlying the decision in Twombly: (1) "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice;" and (2) "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at ---,129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56).In short, a court should only assume to be true a complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, and not its mere legal conclusions, when determining whether such allegations plausibly give rise to relief. Id. at ---, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

B. Analysis

Defendants seeks a dismissal of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff's claims against defendants Schuchat and Grant contravenes the Seventh Circuit's decision and order and moreover, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; (2) Plaintiff fails to state a claim under the NLRA against IBEW 702; and (3) Plaintiff fails to ...

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