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Ana M. Hanson v. Premier Drywall Dba Precon Industries

April 10, 2012

ANA M. HANSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PREMIER DRYWALL DBA PRECON INDUSTRIES, INC. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew Senior, U.S. District Court Judge

ORDER re: Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication of the Issues [39]

On February 28, 2012, Plaintiff Ana M. Hanson's ("Plaintiff") Motion for Summary Judgment, or, in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication of the Issues came on for regular calendar before the Court [39]. The Court having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion and having considered all arguments presented to the Court, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS:

The Court GRANTS in Part and DENIES in Part Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court GRANTS partial summary judgment as to Defendant Premier Drywall d/b/a Precon Industries, Inc.'s ("Defendant") liability under the Arbitration Award. Accordingly, the Court hereby CONFIRMS the September 20, 2010 Arbitration Award issued by the Southern California Labor Management Cooperation Committee ("LMCC") Arbitration Panel. The Court, however, DENIES summary judgment as to the amount owed to Plaintiff under the Arbitration Award.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a trustee and enforcement administrator of Southern California Painting & Drywall Industries Health & Welfare Fund, IUPAT Industry Pension Trust Funds, Southern California Painting & Drywall Industries Apprenticeship Trust Funds, Southern California Painting & Drywall Industries Vacation Trust Fund, Southern California Painting & Drywall Industries Administrative Fund, and the Working Dues Fund (collectively the "Trust Funds") and is authorized by these trust funds to bring this Action as a plaintiff.

Defendant Painters and Allied Trades District Council 36 ("Defendant") is a licensed general contractor that specializes in drywall construction. In 2007, Defendant made bids on several construction jobs that were subject to the restrictions of a Project Labor Agreement ("PLA"). In order to participate in those construction projects, Defendant would be required to meet the mandates of the PLA, including enrolling its apprentice employees in apprentice programs approved by the State of California.

Accordingly, Defendant hired third-party Painters

Council 36 ("Painters Council") to provide the required apprenticeship programs. As part of the hiring, Defendant entered into six project by project "Participation Agreements" with Painters Council. These Participation Agreements bound Defendant to the provisions of Painters Council's own Master Labor Agreement ("MLA"), which required Defendant to make contributions to the Trust Funds.

At the center of the dispute between the Parties is an Amendment to the Participation Agreements that was signed by both Parties. The Amendment provided that if within one year "following execution of the Participation Agreement and this Amendment, [Defendant] enters into a collective bargaining agreement with any labor organization, Premier will automatically be bound for all purposes to [Painters Council's MLA] . . . for drywall finishing work performed by its employees."

Because Painters Council was allegedly not certified by the state to provide apprenticeship programs, Defendant ran into problems complying with the standards of several of the PLA projects. As such on September 2008, Defendant decided to have the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters ("Carpenters Union") take over the apprenticeship programs from Painters Council. In doing so, Defendant became a signatory to the Carpenters Union's collective bargaining agreement and began contributing to the Carpenters Union's trust fund. Plaintiff argues that Defendant's signing with the Carpenters Union triggered the above clause in the Amendment. Defendant maintains that it should only be bound to the MLA for the six Participation Agreement projects.

On November 23, 2009, the Southern California Painting & Drywall Industries Trust Funds served Defendant with a "Charge of Violation" on behalf of the Trust Funds. This Charge of Violation alleged that Defendant violated the MLA by failing to contribute to Trust Funds in its work on eighteen different projects. Pursuant to the MLA, Defendant was required to appear before the Southern California Labor Management Cooperation Committee ("LMCC") Arbitration Panel to resolve the Charge of Violation.

On December 8, 2009, Defendant filed its own complaint with this Court, seeking a judgment declaring that Defendant was not bound to the MLA and not subject to arbitration. That Action is Precon Industries, Inc. dba Premier Drywall, et al. v. Painters and Allied Trades District Council, et al., No. CV 09-09016 RSWL(JCx)("Premier I"). On January 20, 2010, the defendants in Premier I filed a Motion to Dismiss Complaint. On March 24, 2010, this Court issued an Order granting the Motion to Dismiss without leave to Amend. This Court found that Defendant is bound by the MLA and must submit to arbitration.

Accordingly, on September 8, 2010, the matter was heard before an arbitration panel with the LMCC. The dispute before the LMCC was whether Premier was to make contributions for the 18 different projects. Defendant states that it brought evidence to the arbitration that it had paid all required contributions to the Trust Funds for the six Participation Agreement projects. On September 20, 2010, the panel issued an Arbitration Award ("LMCC Arbitration Award") finding that Defendant must continue paying contributions to the trust fund of Painters Council's Union for all projects [1]. The LMCC Arbitration Award states that Defendant "[is] bound to the [MLA] beginning on September 18, 2008, and liable for 'Drywall Finisher' contributions to the [Trust Funds] from that date onward, or until proper termination of the agreement per Article 28 [of the MLA]."

On February 11, 2011, Plaintiff requested that this Court confirm the arbitration award and filed the request as a "Complaint to Confirm the Arbitration Award." In the Complaint, Plaintiff requested that this Court grant an order confirming the award. There appeared to have been some confusion as to the "Complaint to Confirm the Arbitration Award," since Plaintiff's "Complaint" was essentially an "application to confirm arbitration award." Since the "Complaint" should have been construed by the Court as an "application to confirm ...


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