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520 S. Michigan Ave Assoc v. Unite Here

July 15, 2010

520 S. MICHIGAN AVE ASSOC
v.
UNITE HERE, LOCAL 1



Name of Assigned Judge Amy J. St. Eve Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [12] is granted without prejudice. Plaintiffs have until 8/12/10 to file an amended complaint. Status hearing set for 8/19/10 is stricken.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

STATEMENT

On March 3, 2010, Plaintiff 520 South Michigan Avenue Associates, Ltd., d/b/a The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint alleging that Defendant UNITE HERE, Local 1 ("Defendant") violated the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 158. Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, motion for partial summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendant's motion to dismiss without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Construing Plaintiff's complaint and all reasonable inferences in its favor, Plaintiff has its headquarters and principal place of business in Chicago, Illinois. (R. 1, Compl., ¶ 5.) Plaintiff operates the Congress Plaza Hotel at 520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois ("Congress Plaza Hotel") and is an employer in an industry affecting commerce as defined by the NLRA. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.) Defendant is a union organization that represents employees of the Chicago metropolitan area hospitality industry. (Id. at ¶ 8.)

Defendant is the exclusive collective bargaining representative for room attendant employees at the Congress Plaza Hotel. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Plaintiff is currently negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with Defendant because the prior agreement between the parties expired on December 31, 2002. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14.) A work stoppage or strike by members of Defendant union occurred at the Congress Plaza Hotel in June 2003 and has continued to the present day. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

According to the complaint, since the commencement of the strike in 2003, Defendant has engaged in a campaign of activities directed at secondary or neutral parties to discourage those parties from doing business with Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 19-20.) One such activity involved the delivery of a heart-shaped package filled with cow manure to scientists scheduled to attend a convention at the Congress Plaza Hotel. (Id. at ¶ 17.) This incident occurred on February 10, 2005. (R. 13-1, Loeppke Decl., ¶ 3.) In addition, Defendant "aggressively harassed, threatened and intimidated numerous secondary employees and their customers" to exert indirect pressure on Plaintiff. (R. 1, Compl., ¶ 19.) Moreover, representatives for Defendant publicly stated that the union had engaged in these tactics, which included sending delegations to secondary or neutral parties' places of business to pressure them into canceling events held at the Congress Plaza Hotel. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Furthermore, representatives for Defendant publicly asserted that these tactics have caused Plaintiff to lose $700,000 in revenue since January 2009. (Id. at ¶ 21.)

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Motion to Dismiss

"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). As the Seventh Circuit recently explained, this "[r]ule reflects a liberal notice pleading regime, which is intended to 'focus litigation on the merits of a claim' rather than on technicalities that might keep plaintiffs out of court." Brooks v. Ross, 578F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed. 2d 1 (2002)). This short and plain statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed. 2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed. 2d 80 (1957)). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, a "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Cooney v. Rossiter, 583 F.3d 967, 971 (7th Cir. 2009) (amount of factual allegations required to state a plausible claim for relief depends on complexity of legal theory). "[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed. 2d 1081 (2007); Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009) (court construes complaint in light most favorable to plaintiff drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor).

ANALYSIS

I. The February 10, 2005 ...


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