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National Labor Relations Board v. International Union of Operating Engineers

February 28, 2011

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS, LOCAL 150, AFL-CIO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy Mcdade United States Senior District Judge

E-FILED Tuesday, 01 March, 2011 11:53:03 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION and ORDER

Before the Court are the Motion to Dismiss and/or Quash or in the alternative, for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 25) and the Motion to File a Reply Brief (Doc. 29) filed by Defendant. Both Motions are DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed an Application for Order Enforcing Investigative Subpoena Duces Tecum on December 18, 2008 (Doc. 1). Plaintiff seeks an Order that would compel William E. Dugan, who was the President/Business Manager of Defendant, to comply with a subpoena related to an investigation initiated by Plaintiff pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act. 29 U.S.C. §§ 151, et seq.

The investigative subpoena duces tecum was issued and mailed to Dugan on November 9, 2006. It directs Dugan to appear with various documents at Plaintiff's office in Peoria, Illinois. Defendant (hereinafter Local 150) challenged the subpoena before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) via a petition to revoke. The petition was denied by an NLRB order dated May 29, 2007. Since that time, Defendant has not complied with the subpoena, prompting the present suit.

After some issues regarding service, which were resolved in an Order dated February 1, 2010 (Doc. 20), Defendant filed an Answer and the pending Motions. Defendant argues that venue is improper in the Central District of Illinois because the subpoena was served and the documents sought by Plaintiff are located in the Northern District of Illinois. Defendant further argues that because Dugan no longer is employed by Defendant and resides in Maryland, he is beyond the subpoena power of the NLRB, Subregion 33, located in Peoria, Illinois. Defendant also argues that because the underlying charge which compelled the NLRB to launch an investigation was settled vis-A-vis Defendant and the charging party, Brad Bawden, it is entitled to judgment on the pleadings. Finally, Defendant argues that the subpoena should be quashed because it is overbroad and burdensome.

DISCUSSION

I. Venue

Title 29 U.S.C. § 161(1) provides that the NLRB may issue subpoenas requiring the presence and testimony of witnesses and the production of documents related to "any matter under investigation or question." Any such witness may be required to attend or produce documents from any place in the United States, "at any designated place of hearing." In order to enforce such a subpoena, "[i]n case of contumacy or refusal to obey," any district court within the jurisdiction of which the inquiry is carried on or within the jurisdiction of which said person guilty of contumacy or refusal to obey is found or resides or transacts business, upon application by the Board shall have jurisdiction to issue to such person an order requiring such person to appear before the Board . . . . Id. at §161(2).

The NLRB served the subpoena upon Dugan at Local 150's office in Countryside, Illinois, which is outside of Chicago and located within the jurisdiction of the Northern District of Illinois. Dugan was directed to appear at the NLRB's Subregion 33 office located in Peoria, Illinois, the office which is conducting the investigation of Bawden's charge. Local 150 has 8 referral offices or districts, three of which purport to cover counties located in this judicial district. The NLRB asserts that Local 150, therefore, does business in the Central District of Illinois and that the unfair labor practices took place in this district.

The investigation in this case is being conducted by the NLRB's Peoria office. Pursuant to the statute, which makes no mention of where a subpoena is served or where documents may be housed, venue to enforce the subpoena lies in this District. See N.L.R.B. v. Line, 50 F.3d 311, 313-314 (5th Cir. 1995) (stating that the district court in the district where the investigation is being undertaken has jurisdiction to enforce a duly issued subpoena). Defendant's reliance on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 and arguments to the contrary are simply misplaced. A ...


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