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Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters v. Higgins Contracting

March 23, 2007

OHIO AND VICINITY REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HIGGINS CONTRACTING, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Kemp

OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by plaintiff, Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters ("Council"). The case has been referred to the Magistrate Judge for full disposition under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the following reasons, the Council's motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I.

Council and the defendant, Higgins Contracting, LLC, entered into an Acceptance of Agreements that bound Higgins Contracting to the terms of four area-wide collective bargaining agreements ("CBA"). The CBA contained a grievance and arbitration procedure.

Pursuant to the terms of the CBA, the Council filed a grievance against Higgins Contracting that resulted in an arbitration award in favor of the Council on April 11, 2006. The arbitration award ordered Higgins Contracting to cooperate in an audit to calculate the damages arising from Higgins Contracting's violations of the CBA. The award also held Higgins Contracting liable to the Council for all calculated damages, including any costs and fees associated with enforcing the award.

On May 9, 2006, the Council sent a letter via certified mail to Higgins Contracting notifying it of the arbitration award. A copy of the award was attached to the letter. Matt Higgins signed for the letter on May 19, 2006.

Higgins Contracting took no action to comply with the arbitration award. The Council initiated this lawsuit on July 18, 2006 to enforce the award. Subsequently, Higgins Contracting agreed to the audit. Pursuant to the audit, the Council calculated its damages, based on the wage and fringe benefit rates under the CBA and the provisions governing liquidated damages, to be $236,995.51. The Council now seeks a judgment for the full amount calculated under the audit, as well as pre-judgment interest, costs, and attorney's fees. Its summary judgment is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

II.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) provides:

The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

"[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)(emphasis in original); Kendall v. The Hoover Co., 751 F.2d 171, 174 (6th Cir.1984).

Summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is genuine; "that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The purpose of the procedure is not to resolve factual issues, but to determine if there are genuine issues of fact to be tried. Lashlee v. Sumner, 570 F.2d 107, 111 (6th Cir.1978). Therefore, summary judgment will be granted "only where the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, where it is quite clear what the truth is,...[and where] no genuine issue remains for trial,...[for] the purpose of the rule is not to cut litigants off from their right of trial by jury if they really have issues to try." Poller v. Columbia Broadcasting Systems, Inc., 368 U.S. 464, 467 (1962); accord, County of Oakland v. City of Berkley, 742 F.2d 289, 297 (6th Cir.1984).

In making this inquiry, the standard to be applied by the Court mirrors the standard for a directed verdict. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. The primary difference between the two motions is procedural: summary judgment motions are usually made before trial and decided on documentary evidence, while directed verdict motions are made at trial and decided on the evidence that has been admitted. Bill Johnson's Restaurants, Inc. v. NLRB, 461 U.S. 731, 745, n. 11 (1983). In essence, though, the inquiry under each is the same: whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.

Accordingly, although summary judgment should be cautiously invoked, it is an integral part of the Federal Rules which are designed "to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every ...


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