Jesse J. AVERHART, Plaintiff,
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
ANNE E. THOMPSON, District Judge.
This matter has come before the Court upon the Motion to Disqualify Counsel and for a Preliminary Injunction filed by Plaintiff Jesse J. Averhart ("Plaintiff"). (Docket Entry No. 14). Defendants Communications Workers of America ("CWA") and the Communications Workers of America Local 1033 ("CWA Local 1033"), as well as Lawrence Cohen ("Cohen"), Christopher Shelton ("Shelton"), Annie Hill ("Hill"), Rae Roeder ("Roeder"), Diane Spence-Brown ("Spence-Brown"), Anthony Miskowski ("Miskowski"), and Dennis Reiter ("Reiter") oppose the motion. (Docket Entry Nos. 16, 17). The Court has decided the matter upon consideration of the parties' written submissions and without oral argument, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b). For the reasons given below, Plaintiff's Motion to Disqualify Counsel is denied.
This case concerns whether officers of a national union, the CWA, and one of its local branches, the CWA Local 1033, complied with federal and state law as well as the union's constitution and bylaws. The Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts of the case and briefly recites those facts relevant to the Court's analysis.
A. The Parties
Defendant CWA is a nationwide union with various subordinate affiliates. (Docket Entry No. 1 at ¶ 6). Defendants Cohen, Hill, and Shelton (collectively, "National Union Defendants") have all held executive positions at the CWA or its regional affiliate, CWA District 1. ( Id. at ¶¶ 8, 9, 14-16). The CWA and these officers are represented in this lawsuit by the law firm Weissman & Mintz LLC.
Defendant CWA Local 1033 is a subordinate chartered local union of the CWA that is located within CWA District 1. ( Id. at ¶¶ 10, 17). Defendants Roeder, Spence-Brown, Miskowski, and Reiter (collectively, "Local Union Defendants") have all held elected executive positions at the CWA Local 1033 and also serve as members of the CWA Local 1033 Executive Board and Finance Committee. ( Id. at ¶¶ 22-25). The CWA Local 1033 and these officers are represented in this lawsuit by the Law Offices of Walter R. Bliss, Jr.
Plaintiff is a member of the CWA and the CWA Local 1033. ( Id. at ¶ 26). He previously served as Executive Vice President and a staff representative of the CWA Local 1033. ( Id. at ¶ 27). Plaintiff led unsuccessful efforts to unseat the current CWA Local 1033 leadership in elections held in 2005, 2008, and 2011. ( Id. at ¶ 28). In 2010, Plaintiff initiated the first of two lawsuits concerning the management of the CWA Local 1033.
B. First Action
Plaintiff's first lawsuit ("First Action") was initiated in 2010, and named the CWA, the CWA Local 1033, Roeder, Cohen, Shelton, and another union officer, Hetty Rosenstein as defendants. ( Averhart v. Communications Workers of America, Case No. 10-6163 ("First Action"), Docket Entry No. 1). Plaintiff alleged that these defendants violated (1) the CWA Constitution by failing to organize unorganized members; (2) the CWA Constitution by failing to fully disclose financial disbursements of union dues; and (3) the CWA Constitution and Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA") by failing to provide secret ballot voting for the election of officers in 2005 and 2008. ( Id. ).
Approximately one year later, Plaintiff sought leave to amend his complaint. (First Action, Docket Entry No. 39). Specifically, Plaintiff sought to add allegations concerning the union's 2011 officer elections, and to add new claims pertaining to the 2005 and 2008 elections under Title I and Title V of the LMRDA as well as state common law. (First Action, Docket Entry No. 39, Attach. 2). Plaintiff also sought to amend the complaint to add 39 new defendants. ( See id. ).
Magistrate Judge Tonnianne Bongiovanni denied Plaintiff's motion to amend on May 3, 2012. (First Action, Docket Entry Nos. 49, 50). Judge Bongiovanni held, in relevant part, that (1) amendment to add Plaintiff's proposed claims under Title I and Title V of the LMRDA would be futile; (2) amendment to add Plaintiff's proposed state law claims would cause undue prejudice to the defendants; and (3) Plaintiff had not shown that any of the proposed new defendants had received adequate notice of the lawsuit such that Plaintiff's proposed amendments would relate back to the date of the filing of the complaint. (First Action, Docket Entry No. 49 at 10-15). Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, (First Action, Docket Entry No. 51), which was denied on September 10, 2012, (First Action, Docket Entry Nos. 60, 61). Plaintiff then appealed the Magistrate Judge's decision, (First Action, Docket Entry No. 63), and that appeal was denied on January 30, 2013, (First Action, Docket Entry Nos. 84, 85).
Plaintiff also moved to disqualify Defendants' counsel, arguing that joint representation of the unions and its officers was impermissible under the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct (RPCs) and the LMRDA. (First Action, Docket Entry No. 67). The Court disagreed, holding that Plaintiff had not established a concurrent conflict of interest because the case did not concern allegations of self-dealing on the part of the union officers and it appeared ...