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U.A., AFL-CIO v. CCR Fire Protection, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 23, 2017

ROAD SPRINKLER FITTERS LOCAL UNION NO. 669, U.A., AFL-CIO
v.
CCR FIRE PROTECTION, LLC, et al.

          RULING AND ORDER

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (the “Motion”).[1] Defendants Quick Response Fire Protection, LLC (“Quick Response”) and Earl Barnett (“Barnett”) filed an opposition to the Motion on November 3, 2016.[2] Defendant Roseal Rodriguez, Jr. (“J.R.”) and Theresa Rodriguez (collectively the “Rodriguez Defendants”) also filed an opposition to the Motion on November 4, 2016.[3] Plaintiff filed a reply memorandum.[4] For the reasons that follow, the Motion is GRANTED IN PART.[5]

         I. Factual Background

         In its original Complaint, Plaintiff, a national labor organization, alleges that Defendant CCR Fire Protection, LLC (“CCR”) entered into an oral settlement agreement with Plaintiff before the administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) to resolve Plaintiff's unfair labor practice charge against CCR that was pending before the NLRB.[6] Plaintiff further alleges that, despite the oral agreement, CCR failed to sign a written agreement memorializing the terms of the settlement and never made the payments required under the settlement agreement.[7] In addition to naming CCR as a defendant, the original Complaint also names Quick Response, the Rodriguez Defendants, Nilesh Patel, Rajendra Bhakta, and Barnett.[8]Quick Response is alleged to be an alter ego of, and successor to, CCR, such that Quick Response is also obligated under the settlement agreement.[9] The original Complaint contains limited factual allegations against the individual defendants. There, Plaintiff alleges that J.R. Rodriguez was the owner and agent of CCR; that Theresa Rodriguez was the office manager and agent of CCR; and that Barnett was the salesperson and designer of CCR, as well as an owner of Quick Response.[10]The original Complaint alleges that Patel and Bhakta were also owners of CCR.[11] All individual defendant are alleged to be “employers” in the original Complaint within the meaning of Section 2(2) of the Labor Management Relations Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 152(2).[12]

         On September 2, 2016, the Rodriguez Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the original Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a cause of action.[13] Similarly, Quick Response and Barnett also filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.[14] Both motions are currently pending. The thrust of these motions is that the allegations contained in the original Complaint are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against these defendants.[15]

         Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to “enhance and amplify its claims, including as to individual liability of Roseal Rodriguez, Theresa Rodriguez, Nilesh Patel, Rajandra Bhakta, and Earl Barnett …” and to “include additional specific allegations regarding Plaintiff's standing to sue Defendant Bhakta in this Court.”[16] The primary focus of the oppositions to the Motion is that the amendment would be futile.[17]

         II. Law and Analysis

         Under Rule 15(a)(2), “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave” and a “court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The court liberally construes Rule 15(a) in favor of amendment. See Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d 594, 597 (5th Cir. 1981) (“[T]he liberal position of the federal rules on granting amendments . . . evinces a bias in favor of granting leave to amend”). Although leave to amend should not be automatically granted, “[a] district court must possess a substantial reason to deny a request for leave to amend.” Jones v. Robinson Prop. Grp., L.P., 427 F.3d 987, 994 (5th Cir. 2005) (quotations omitted). In determining whether to grant leave, a court may consider several factors, including among other things, the movant's “bad faith or dilatory motive” and the “futility” of the amendment. Rhodes v. Amarillo Hosp. Dist., 654 F.2d 1148, 1153 (5th Cir. 1981) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 230, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962)).

         As the primary focus of the oppositions to the Motion is that the amendments would be futile, the Court focuses on that argument. An amendment is futile if it would fail to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Briggs v. Miss., 331 F.3d 499, 508 (5th Cir. 2003). A review of the proposed amended complaint is, therefore conducted under “the same standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6).” Marucci Sports, L.L.C. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 751 F.3d 368, 378 (5th Cir. 2014) citing Stripling v. Jordan Prod. Co., LLC, 234 F.3d 863, 873 (5th Cir. 2000).

         We accept “all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir.2007). In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (citation omitted).

         A. Allegations as to the Rodriguez Defendants

         The factual allegations in the original Complaint against the Rodriguez Defendants are that: 1) they are “employers” within the meaning of Section 2(2) of the Labor Management Relations Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 152(2); 2) J.R. Rodriguez was the owner and agent of CCR; 3) Theresa Rodriguez was the office manager and agent of CCR; and 4) that J.R. Rodriguez was a party to the settlement agreement at issue.[18]

         In contrast, the proposed Amended Complaint expands the allegations against the Rodriguez Defendants to include the following non-exhaustive recitation of additional facts:

[Plaintiff] and Defendant CCR through Defendants J.R. Rodriguez and Theresa Rodriguez engaged in settlement negotiations at the outset of the NLRB trial and entered into a settlement of the NLRB allegations . . . .[19]
Defendant CCR affirmed on the record through Defendant Theresa Rodriguez that it agreed to the terms of the settlement agreement . . . .[20]
Defendant CCR through Defendants J.R. and Theresa Rodriguez thereafter refused to sign the written agreement and reneged on their agreement to make payments . . . .[21]
[Plaintiff] … was informed by Defendant Theresa Rodriguez on two separate occasions that CCR would not sign because they were ‘shutting their doors.' Defendant Theresa Rodriguez gave no indication at the settlement conference on February 17, 2016, that CCR had imminent plans to terminate the business within the month and reopen as Quick Response.[22]
Defendants J.R. Rodriguez, Theresa Rodriguez …purported to enter into the NLRB settlement with the fraudulent intent to evade their obligations under the settlement and the collective bargaining agreement with [Plaintiff] in order to induce [Plaintiff] to withdraw the pending NLRB unfair labor practice charges.[23]

         Allegations as to Quick Response and Barnett

         1. Allegations against Quick Response

         Quick Response is alleged to be an “employer” within the meaning of Section 2(2) of the LMRA.[24] Quick Response is not alleged to be a signatory to the collective bargaining agreement between Plaintiff and CCR, nor is Quick Response alleged to a be a signatory to the settlement agreement, but Plaintiff seeks to impose liability upon Quick Response as an alter ego and successor of CCR.[25] Quick Response is alleged to be located in the same offices occupied by CCR[26] and has the same business purpose as CCR-the installation, maintenance, and repair of fire sprinkler systems in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.[27] Quick Response is also alleged to have the same employees, substantially identical management, and the same customers and equipment as CCR.[28] Quick Response is also alleged to be performing “collective bargaining agreement-covered work on jobs covered by the collective bargaining agreement” between CCR and [Plaintiff].[29]

         2. Allegations against Barnett

         The allegations against Barnett in the original Complaint are that he is an “employer” within the meaning of Section 2(2) of the LMRA, [30] that he was at all material times a salesperson and designer for Defendant CCR;[31] and that he became an owner of Quick Response in January 2016.[32] The original Complaint also claims Plaintiff is entitled to ...


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