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Plumbers Local Union No. 5 of United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry of United States & Canada v. Conditioned Air Systems, Inc.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

November 8, 2013



CHARLES B. DAY, Magistrate Judge.

Before this Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Plaintiff's Motion") (Docket Item No. 17). The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Motion, and the opposition and reply thereto. No hearing is deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For the following reasons, the Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. Background

Plaintiff labor unions have filed the instant Complaint in an effort to have this Court enforce two awards issued against Defendant as a result of a grievance and arbitration procedure arising from collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs"). Plaintiffs claim that Defendant has failed to pay wages, benefits and dues on behalf of its employees, for the months of February and March 2012.

The CBAs set forth three steps for resolution of disputes. Step two requires disputes such as the present one to be submitted to Joint Conference Boards ("JCBs"). The JCBs are empowered to issue "final and binding" decisions by way of a majority vote. In the event either JCB is not able to reach a decision, the matter is referred to an arbitrator for a final decision.

Plaintiffs' claims were heard by the JCBs and in both instances Plaintiffs obtained a favorable ruling. The awards were issued on July 24, 2012. Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment. Defendant opposes the motion and seeks to vacate the awards issued by the JCBs.

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper if there are no issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Francis v. Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc. , 452 F.3d 299, 302 (4th Cir. 2006). A material fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass , 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248-49. However, the nonmoving party "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy , 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). The Court may only rely on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings, in order to fulfill its "affirmative obligation... to prevent factually unsupported claims or defenses' from proceeding to trial." Felty v. Grave-Humphreys Co. , 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987) (citing Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323-24). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 255.

B. Generally, the Non-Moving Party to a Motion for Summary Judgment is Entitled to Discovery.

The Court set a discovery deadline of July 5, 2013. On April 5, 2013, six weeks into the period for discovery, Plaintiffs filed the present motion. Upon the filing of the present motion, all discovery inexplicably ceased.

Defendant contends that it is disadvantaged by the filing of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant believes the filing of Plaintiffs' Motion "cut off Defendant's opportunity to continue discovery." Def.'s Opp'n 2. However, the Court issued no order staying discovery, nor has Defendant cited to any rule of procedure or local rule of this Court as authority. Here, the Court will treat Defendant's Opposition as an effort for clarification, and will not treat Defendant's failure to pursue discovery adversely.

Defendant rightly contends that the federal rules are slanted in favor of providing discovery to the non-moving party when necessary to promote fairness. As stated more fully,

If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to ...

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