United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on defendants' motion to
dismiss plaintiff's second amended complaint for failure
to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) (DE 29). The issues raised have been fully briefed
by the parties, and in this posture are ripe for ruling. For
the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted.
OF THE CASE
se plaintiff commenced this action on April 23, 2018, in
Bladen County Superior Court, raising various causes of
action against defendants in an effort to recover wages and
lost benefits arising from his termination as president of a
local union. Defendants removed this action on May 25, 2018.
thereafter, defendants filed their first motion to dismiss
plaintiff's complaint. The court granted the motion
without prejudice. With the court's leave, plaintiff
filed two amended complaints. Plaintiff's second amended
complaint includes additional allegations regarding the
circumstances of his termination, including the affidavit of
Dilcia Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”), and the report of
the trusteeship hearing officer recommending ratification and
continuation of an international trusteeship over
plaintiff's local union. Defendants now request the court
to dismiss all of plaintiff's claims.
facts alleged in the complaint may be summarized as follows. In
January 2009, defendant United Food & Commercial Workers
International Union (“UFCW”) chartered a local
chapter of its union (“Local 1208”). (Compl.
¶ 9). Defendant UFCW appointed Carl Green
(“Green”), Donald Minor (“Minor”),
and ten executive board members employed at the Smithfield
Tar Heel facility to lead Local 1208. (Id.).
Eventually, the executive board members demanded Green and
Minor resign over the objection of defendants Alvin Vincent,
Jr. (“Vincent”), director of UFCW Region 2, and
UFCW. (Id.). The board nominated plaintiff as
president of Local 1208 in July 2011, despite defendant
Vincent's suggestion that plaintiff should be prevented
from serving. (Id.).
relationship between plaintiff and these defendants proved
rocky from the start, with defendant Vincent refusing to
assist in training plaintiff on how to administer Local 1208.
(Id.). Defendant Vincent maintained a hands off
approach to Local 1208 for two and one-half years, declining
to conduct an audit requested by plaintiff or attend
functions at plaintiff's invitation. (Id.).
the first week of March 2015, defendant Vincent and his
assistant, Beth Pointer (“Pointer”), reached out
to Rodriguez, plaintiff's girlfriend. (Rodriguez Aff. (DE
25-1)). Defendant Vincent and Pointer told Rodriguez that she
needed to get plaintiff locked up for domestic violence, and
that they would be able to pressure him to resign.
(Id.). On March 6, 2015, Rodriguez called the
police, and falsely reported that plaintiff hit and choked
her. (Id.). The police placed plaintiff under
Vincent and staff conducted an audit of Local 1208 on March
11, 2018. (Compl. ¶ 7). At the end of March, defendant
Anthony Perrone (“Perrone”), defendant UFCW's
president, appointed defendant Vincent to serve as trustee of
Local 1208, stating that defendant UFCW's audit and
review demonstrated plaintiff had engaged in financial
malpractice requiring emergency action. (Report (DE 25-2) at
3). Defendant Vincent took control of Local 1208, and
demanded plaintiff return all its property. (Compl. ¶
April 23, 2015, defendant UFCW conducted an evidentiary
hearing to determine if the trusteeship was justified and
should be continued. (Id. ¶ 11; Report (DE
25-2) at 4). Defendant Vincent called a total of eight
witnesses, including himself, three members of Local
1208's executive board, and four UFCW employees. (Report
(DE 25-2) at 4). The hearing officer found that, based on the
audit conducted March 11, 2015, and testimony presented at
the April 23, 2015, hearing, plaintiff used union funds to
take vacations, make gifts, purchase items (including
all-terrain vehicles, clothing, hunting supplies, and
furniture), rent vehicles, and withdraw cash from Local 1208
accounts for unspecified reasons. (Report (DE 25-2) at 4-9).
Plaintiff did not attend the April 23, 2015 hearing or
provide any evidence. No. testimony was present at hearing in
opposition to imposition or continuation of a trusteeship.
(Report (DE 25-2) at 10). The hearing officer recommended
upholding and continuing imposition of the trusteeship.
(Report (DE 25-2) at 11). A majority of the members of
defendant UFCW's international executive committee voted
in favor of ratifying and continuing the trusteeship. (Report
(DE 25-2) at 1).
Standard of Review “To survive a motion to
dismiss” under Rule 12(b)(6), ‘a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
663 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Factual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In
evaluating whether a claim is stated, “[the] court
accepts all well-pled facts as true and construes these facts
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, ” but
does not consider “legal conclusions, elements of a
cause of action, . . . bare assertions devoid of further