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SW Ohio Carpenters v. E & I Construction

July 18, 2006

SW OHIO CARPENTERS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
E & I CONSTRUCTION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Black

MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs initiated this civil action on September 23, 2005, by filing a complaint against E & I Construction ("E & I") and Christian Baldwin ("Baldwin") pursuant to the Employee Income Retirement Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. ("ERISA"), the Multi-Employer Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1145, and the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. (Doc. 1.)

This matter is now before the Court on defendant Baldwin's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against him for failure to join an indispensable party, or in the alternative, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) (doc. 20), and Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition (doc. 22). The parties have consented to disposition by the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (See Doc. 16.)

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs and Defendant E & I entered into a collective bargaining agreement wherein E&I agreed to make timely payments to Plaintiffs' Pension Fund, Health and Welfare Fund, Carpenters and Millwrights Training and Educational Trust Fund, the Advancement Program, the Health and Safety Fund, and the Retirement Plan ("the Funds"). Plaintiffs' complaint asserts that E & I failed to make proper payments to the Funds from September 2004 through August 2005. (Doc. 1.)

Furthermore, the complaint asserts that Defendant Baldwin, as president of E&I, had a significant financial interest in E&I, exercised control and authority over the Funds' assets, and failed to make contributions as required under the collective bargaining agreement. As a result, Plaintiffs are seeking $36,000.00 in unpaid contributions, plus interest. (Doc. 1.)

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A.

Rule 12(b)(7) permits defendants to seek dismissal and penalize plaintiffs for the failure to join a party pursuant to Rule 19. Glancy v. Taubman Centers, Inc., 373 F.3d 656, 669 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7)).

Pursuant to Rule 19(a), a person shall be joined as a party in the action if (1) in his absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) he claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in his absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede his ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of his claimed interest.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a).

If the court determines that the person or entity does not fall within one of these provisions, joinder, as well as further analysis, is unnecessary. PTG Logistics, LLC v. Bickel's Snack Foods, Inc., 196 F.Supp.2d 593, 604-605 (S.D.Ohio 2002). However, if the court finds that one of the criteria is satisfied, then the person is one to be joined if feasible, and the issue of the existence of personal jurisdiction arises. Id.

If such is the case, the court proceeds to the third step, which involves an analysis of the factors set forth in Rule 19(b) to determine whether the court may proceed without the absent party or, to the contrary, must dismiss the case due to the indispensability of that party. Id.

Rule 19 is not to be applied in a rigid manner but should instead be governed by the practicalities of the individual case. PTG Logistics, 196 F.Supp.2d at 605 (citing Provident Tradesmens Bank & Trust Co. v. Patterson, 390 U.S. 102 (1968)). The Sixth Circuit has noted that "[i]deally, all [the] parties would be before the court. Yet Rule 19 calls for a pragmatic approach; simply because some forms of relief might not be available due to the absence of certain parties, the entire suit should not be dismissed if meaningful relief can still be accorded." PTG Logistics, 196 F.Supp.2d at 605 (quoting Smith v. United Brotherhood of ...


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