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Administrative District Council 1 of Illinois of the International v. Pierport Development & Realty

June 13, 2011

ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT COUNCIL 1 OF ILLINOIS OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNION OF BRICKLAYERS AND ALLIED CRAFTWORKERS, AFL-CIO, PLAINTIFF/COUNTER-DEFENDANT,
v.
PIERPORT DEVELOPMENT & REALTY , INC., DEFENDANT/COUNTERCLAIMANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION

There are two motions before the Court. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff Pierport Development & Realty, Inc., moves to vacate an arbitration award entered on April 14, 2010. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant Administrative District Council 1 of Illinois of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, AFL-CIO moves for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the reasons stated below, Pierport's motion is denied and the Union's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

This case arises out of a dispute over an arbitration award between a labor organization, the Administrative District Council 1 of Illinois of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, AFL-CIO, ("the Union") and Pierport Development & Realty ("Pierport"), a construction company engaged in several renovation projects with the Chicago Public Schools.

On October 5, 2009, the Union and Pierport entered into a collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") which, to the present day, remains in effect between the parties. The CBA incorporates numerous terms of a master agreement signed by the Union and various employer associations (the "Agreement"). The Agreement imposes several substantive and procedural obligations upon signatory contractors such as Pierport. Disputes arising under the Agreement are resolved in accordance with a grievance procedure which involves arbitration before a joint arbitration board (the "Arbitration Board").

By letter of April 5, 2010, the Union informed Pierport that the Labor Management Cooperation Committee ("LMCC") was filing a grievance against Pierport for the alleged violations of numerous provisions of the CBA. The Union invited Pierport to contact a Union representative to attempt to resolve the matter and explained that, if the parties did not timely resolve the matter, a hearing would be held before the Arbitration Board on April 14, 2010. The Union also indicated that the arbitration proceedings could result in an award of damages, costs, and other relief. The Union urged Pierport to resolve the matter or attend the hearing, present its position, and respond to LMCC's claims.

On April 14, 2010, the parties appeared before the Arbitration Board. Representatives of LMCC, of other affiliated local unions, and of Pierport presented their grievances before the Arbitration Board. Following the presentation of evidence and arguments, the arbitrators rendered a written decision (the "Arbitration Award") finding that Pierport had violated numerous CBA provisions. The Arbitration Board found Pierport liable for performing a substantial amount of work through the use of eight ineligible employees and improper subcontracting. Pierport was also found liable for failure to timely pay contractually required wages and benefits, to report work, maintain appropriate bonds, inform the Union of overtime work, place signs and provide vehicle identification on construction sites, and follow bidding procedures. The arbitrators ordered Pierport to comply with the CBA provisions, to pay a fine of $4,500 to the Union, and to pay $178,181.33 in damages to LMCC, affiliated local unions, and two employees. The Arbitration Award also provided that, if payment was made within 30 days from the date the award issued, the damages award would be reduced by 10%. The arbitrators finally indicated they would consider a request by Pierport to appear at the next arbitration session to reopen the hearing for further arguments and evidence.

On June 7, 2010, the Union mailed a copy of the Arbitration Award to Pierport. On July 2, 2010, Pierport advised the Union that it would appear at the next arbitration session to present additional evidence and testimony. On July 8, 2010, the Union notified Pierport that the next arbitration session would take place on August 11, 2010, at 8:00 a.m., and that Pierport could request a reopening of the hearings.

On August 11, 2010, the parties appeared before the Arbitration Board. Pierport immediately requested a continuance of the proceedings because some of its witnesses were no longer available that day but the request was denied. At the direction of the arbitrators, both parties presented facts and arguments supporting their positions on the merits of the case. At the end of the proceedings, the arbitrators declined to enter a new award and sustained the April 14, 2010 award. By letter dated September 20, 2010, the Union informed Pierport that the April 14, 2010 award was upheld by the Arbitration Board. Pierport has not yet complied with the Arbitration Award. It is only after the Union filed the present enforcement action that Pierport filed a counterclaim on January 26, 2011, to challenge it.

On December 8, 2010, the Union filed suit before this Court seeking enforcement of the Arbitration Award. On January 26, 2011, Pierport filed an answer to the Union's complaint and a counterclaim for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and tortious interference with business relations. On March 8, 2011, Pierport moved to vacate the April 14, 2010 award. In its motion to vacate, Pierport argues that (1) the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means, (2) there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, (3) the arbitrators committed serious procedural misconduct, (4) the arbitrators exceeded their powers and so imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite award was not made. Pierport also contends that the arbitration award should be vacated because it evidenced "manifest disregard of the law." The Union now moves for summary judgment arguing that Pierport's motion to vacate the Arbitration Award is time-barred by the statute of limitations.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, discovery materials, disclosures, and affidavits demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact, such that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Protective Life Ins. Co. v. Hansen, 632 F.3d 388, 391-92 (7th Cir. 2011). A genuine issue of material fact exists when, based on the evidence, a reasonable jury could find in favor of the non-moving party. Van Antwerp v. City of Peoria, Illinois, 627 F.3d 295, 297 (7th Cir. 2010). A court must construe all facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Smith v. Hope Sch., 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009).

DISCUSSION

I. Finality and Appealability of the ...


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