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Cooper B-Line, Inc. v. Howard

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 3, 2014

COOPER B-LINE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
NEIL HOWARD, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM, ORDER, and DEFAULT JUDGMENT

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

Before the Court is a Motion for Default Judgment filed by plaintiff Cooper B-Line, Inc. against defendant Neil Howard (Doc. 8). Said Motion is HEREBY GRANTED for the following reasons.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this action on April 24, 2014, seeking enforcement of a labor arbitration subpoena. The Complaint alleges that defendant refused to comply with a Subpoena Ad Testificandum ("Subpoena") issued by labor arbitrator Mark. W. Suardi ("Arbitrator") for defendant's appearance at, and testimony in, a labor arbitration entitled International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, District 9 (In re Termination of Adrian Harris) v. Cooper B-Line, Inc., FMCS No. 13-54315-A ("Arbitration"). The Arbitration concerns the Company's termination of its employee Adrian Harris-a subject matter that has previously been before District Judge G. Patrick Murphy, now retired.

In Harris v. Cooper B-Line, Inc., CIV. 13-440-GPM, Judge Murphy dismissed Mr. Harris's claims against the Company, including a cause of action claiming that the Company breached a contract by terminating Mr. Harris's employment. See 2013 WL 3834455 (S.D. Ill. July 24, 2013). Judge Murphy concluded that Mr. Harris's breach-of-contract claim was preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act because it amounted to a claim for breach of a collective bargaining agreement. Id. at *3.

The present action seeks enforcement of a subpoena compelling the appearance and testimony of defendant at the Arbitration. Defendant and Mr. Harris were coworkers at the Company's facility in Highland, Illinois. The Company contends that it terminated Mr. Harris's employment after crediting a report from defendant that Mr. Harris threatened defendant with a gun on plaintiff's property.

The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, District 9 ("Union") grieved Mr. Harris's termination pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between the Company and the Union regarding employees at the Company's Highland location. That grievance progressed through the grievance-arbitration procedures set out in the CBA, culminating with an arbitration hearing, which was scheduled by the parties to occur on February 25, 2014. By then, defendant's employment with the Company had also come to an end.

Leading up to the Arbitration, plaintiff served defendant with the Subpoena, which was signed by Arbitrator Mark W. Suardi, compelling defendant to appear for, and testify at, the February 25th Arbitration hearing. Defendant refused to comply with the Subpoena. Due to defendant's absence, the Arbitrator adjourned the Arbitration hearing to give plaintiff an opportunity seek judicial enforcement of the Subpoena. Plaintiff's Complaint followed.

Defendant received service of the Complaint and Summons on April 30, 2014, yet he has filed no response to the Complaint. On May 27, 2014, the Company requested that the Clerk of the Court enter a default against Howard. See Doc. 6. On May 28, 2014, the Clerk entered the requested default. See Doc. 7.

II. STANDARD OF LAW

"There are two stages in a default proceeding: the establishment of the default, and the actual entry of a default judgment." In re Catt, 368 F.3d 789, 793 (7th Cir. 2004). "When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Because this action seeks an order compelling compliance with a labor arbitrator's subpoena-rather than the payment of a sum certain-plaintiff was required to "apply to the court for a default judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1)-(2). See also Catt, 368 F.3d at 793 (seeking default judgment from the trial court pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2) is required where the moving party is "not suing for a sum certain (such as the face amount of a promissory note)").

III. ANALYSIS

The Court concludes that a default judgment in favor of plaintiff should be issued because the Court has jurisdiction over this matter, defendant failed to respond to the Complaint as required by Rule 12, and the evidence included with ...


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