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Moore v. Local Union 569 of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

filed: April 1, 1993.

LAWRENCE MOORE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LOCAL UNION 569 OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; PAUL BLACKWOOD; WAYNE LOVIN; JAMES WESTFALL; TOM PRIDEMORE; BAKER ELECTRIC, INC., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. LAWRENCE MOORE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, V. LOCAL UNION 569 OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; ROBERT FLOWERS; JOSEPH HEISLER, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, BAKER ELECTRIC, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE. LAWRENCE MOORE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, V. INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, BAKER ELECTRIC, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE. LAWRENCE MOORE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, V. LOCAL UNION 569 OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. D.C. No. CV-85-1719-B. Rudi M. Brewster, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Ruggero J. Aldisert,*fn* William C. Canby, Jr., and David R. Thompson, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Aldisert.

Author: Aldisert

ALDISERT, Circuit Judge:

A galaxy of labor law issues is presented in these appeals and cross appeals from the judgment of the district court - 16 questions raised by appellant Moore alone. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("the International" or IBEW) on certain issues, a directed verdict in favor of the International on other issues, and a directed verdict in favor of the local union and certain individual defendants on still other issues. After a 32-day trial, a jury returned a verdict on the remaining issues in favor of Lawrence W. Moore against Local 569 of the International ("the Local") and certain of its officers.

Appearing pro se, Mr. Moore appeals the district court's adverse summary judgment and directed verdict against him on all of his claims against the International as well as the directed verdict on behalf of the Local and individual defendants.

The Local and its officers appeal the district court's denial of their motion for judgment NOV. The International appeals the district court's denial of its motion for sanctions against Moore.

Thus, we have four appeals: Moore's appeals at Nos. 90-55557 & 91-55411, the cross-appeal from the Local and individual defendants at 90-55558 and the appeal by the International at 90-55559.

Jurisdiction was proper in the district court under 18 U.S.C. § 3231. All of the orders from which the parties appeal and cross-appeal were final. Accordingly, we have appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. The appeal was timely filed under Rule 4(a)(1), Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

After careful consideration of all the issues presented on appeal, we affirm each aspect of the district court's judgment.

I.

The standards of review are familiar. A grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Jones v. Union Pac. R.R., 968 F.2d 937, 940 (9th Cir. 1992). Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the appellate court must determine whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court correctly applied the relevant substantive law. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. O'Melveny & Meyers, 969 F.2d 744, 747 (9th Cir. 1992). The court must not weigh the evidence or determine the truth of the matter but only determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

A district court's grant of a directed verdict is also reviewed de novo. In Re Hawaii Federal Asbestos Cases, 960 F.2d 806, 816 (9th Cir. 1992). In each instance, the reviewing court's role is the same as the district court's. McGonigle v. Combs, 968 F.2d 810, 816 (9th Cir.), cert. dismissed sub nom. Casares v. Spendthrift Farm, 121 L. Ed. 2d 325, 113 S. Ct. 399 (1992). "[A] directed verdict is proper when the evidence permits only one reasonable Conclusion as to the verdict." Id.

A ruling on the appropriate statute of limitations is a question of law reviewed de novo, Felton v. Unisource Corp., 940 F.2d 503, 508 (9th Cir. 1991), and the interpretation of a statute is a question of law reviewed de novo, see Batchelor v. Oak Hill Medical Group, 870 F.2d 1446, 1447 (9th Cir. 1989).

Finally, we review a district court's denial of Rule 11 sanctions for an abuse of discretion. Giebelhaus v. Spindrift Yachts, 938 F.2d 962, 964 (9th Cir. 1991). Under the abuse of discretion standard, a reviewing court cannot reverse "unless it has a definite and firm conviction that the court below committed a clear error of judgment." United States v. Plainbull, 957 F.2d 724, 725 (9th Cir. 1992).

II.

Moore is no stranger to this court. See Moore v. Bechtel Power Corp., 840 F.2d 634 (9th Cir. 1988) (on remand from the Supreme Court); Moore v. Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, Local No. 569, 845 F.2d 329 (9th Cir. 1988) (unpublished memorandum Disposition). Moore has filed at least five lawsuits against his local union and the International. The incidents forming the basis of the present appeals, all arising from the last case filed by Moore, can be grouped into three general scenarios.

First, Moore led an attempt to overturn a working dues increase that had been passed by the membership and approved by the International president. He was successful in this endeavor on the local level, but the International president refused to approve the decrease. According to evidence produced by Moore, during the debate on dues, certain Local officers harassed and intimidated him for speaking out against them and also committed assault and battery upon him.

Second, Moore contended that Local officials referred electricians to job sites in an unfair manner. He complained about certain jobs he did not get and about a more general practice that favored the officers and their friends by giving them extra work.

Finally, Moore complained that Baker Electric Inc., an employer, rejected him without good cause after a referral from the Local, violating the collective bargaining agreement. In addition, there are disputes regarding costs, attorneys fees and sanctions.

A.

On July 25, 1985, Moore and another member of the Local, Walter F. Whelan, Jr., brought an action against the International, Local 569, Baker Electric and various individual defendants who are past and present officers of the Local and the International.*fn1 The complaint alleged that the defendants breached certain bylaws of Local 569, the IBEW constitution, the duty of fair representation under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. § 159(a), and various provisions of the Labor Management Reporting & Disclosure Act (LMMDA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 401-531, and committed the common law torts of assault and battery.

Much of the litigation stems from the attempt to reduce dues. On April 11, 1984, there was a general membership meeting of the Local to change the bylaws so that all members would pay $6.00 in basic monthly dues and an increase of one-half percent in working dues. On May 9, 1984, a majority of the members voted to adopt the proposed amendment. Shortly thereafter, it was approved by the International president.

Six months later, Moore made a motion to reduce the Local's working dues by one-half percent. In a special meeting on December 26, 1984, the Local carried the proposal. The business manager submitted the proposed bylaw amendment to the International president, who refused to approve it. The president's refusal gives rise to one of Moore's claims against the International.

In May 1984 and again in June 1985, Moore filed internal union charges against officers and members of the Local who he alleged had been conducting a personal vendetta against him, including business manager Blackwood, Local president Heisler, recording secretary Hartnett, sergeant-at-arms Flowers and members of the executive board. Moore alleged that certain members deprived him of his right to participate in union activities by, among other things, refusing to recognize him on the floor at meetings, interrupting his comments at meetings and using violence and threats of violence. Moore claims that the International ratified these activities and, thereby, further deprived him of his right to participate.

The International had representative Robbins investigate both sets of charges. On September 12, 1984, after Robbins' investigation, Moore was notified that his initial charges were without merit and had been dismissed. After the June 1985 charges were filed, Robbins reported that he held a meeting of all the officers and members named by Moore and asked Moore's friend and supporter, Whelan, to participate. Robbins concluded that Moore's charges lacked merit and that Moore was merely exhausting his internal union remedies so that he could sue the Local. In August of 1985, an officer of the International advised Moore that no further action regarding his June 1985 charges would be taken until the current litigation had been concluded.

Moore's remaining claim against the Local involves its hiring hall procedures under various collective bargaining agreements. As a local labor organization, Local 569 is signatory to several collective bargaining agreements. One such agreement, the Inside Agreement, is negotiated between the Local and the San Diego Chapter of the National Electrical Contractor's Association (NECA) and concerns the wages, conditions, and other matters for Local members who perform construction site work. Another agreement, the Sound Agreement, governs the wages, conditions and other matters for Local members who perform work for NECA and who specialize in the installation of sound transmitting equipment. Moore challenges the Local's administration of the referral procedures under the Sound Agreement.

According to the Local, both agreements have employment referral clauses within them. An out-of-work member of the Local may qualify for placement into either or both of these agreements' referral systems merely by marking the appropriate place on a sign-in book maintained at the Local's offices. Appellant Moore did not follow the prescribed procedures and therefore was not considered by the Local to be a member of the Sound Agreement bargaining unit. Thus, he could not benefit from the hiring hall procedures that the agreement provided.

Finally, Moore claims that Baker Electric violated the Inside Agreement by rejecting his employment application without good cause. Prior to filing this action, the appeals committee of Local 569 interpreted the Inside Agreement as giving an employer the absolute right to reject referrals from the union. This decision was not appealed and has become final. The district court, therefore, granted summary judgment on behalf of Baker Electric on res judicata grounds. Moore also claims that the Local breached its duty of fair representation towards him by construing the right-to-reject clause as absolute. The district court dismissed this claim.

B.

The present suit was filed on July 25, 1985. Prior to trial, the International moved for summary judgment on the working dues issue. The court granted the motion for summary ...


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