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New Jersey Building Laborers Construction Laborers District Council v. Innovative Masonry LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 7, 2019

NEW JERSEY BUILDING CONSTRUCTION LABORERS DISTRICT COUNCIL NEW JERSEY BUILDING LABORERS STATEWIDE BENEFIT FUNDS AND THE TRUSTEES THEREOF, Petitioners,
v.
INNOVATIVE MASONRY LLC d/b/a INNOVATIVE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT,, Respondent.

          OPINION

          WILLIAM J. MARTINI. U.S.D.J.

         This matter comes before the Court on Innovative Masonry LLC's motion to vacate an arbitration award, ECF No. 7, and New Jersey Building Construction Laborers District Counsel's motion to confirm the award, ECF Nos. 8-9. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to vacate is DENIED and the motion to confirm is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 9 and April 27, 2018, Arbitrator Louis P. Verrone ("Arbitrator") held hearings to determine whether Innovative Masonry LLC ("Employer") violated its Collective Bargaining Agreement ("Agreement") with the New Jersey Building Construction Laborers' District Council and the Jersey Building Laborers Statewide Benefit Funds ("Union"). Arb. Op. & Award at 2, ECF No. 8, Ex. A ("Award"). Arbitrator answered two questions:

1. Whether the signatory Company violated the terms of the parties' Agreements by failing to apply all of the respective terms and conditions of said Agreements, including the payment of wages and benefits, while performing work covered by said Agreements at four distinct worksites under the name or names of other companies [("Other Companies")] in order to avoid its contractual responsibilities under the Agreements?
2. If so, what shall be the remedy?

Id. As to the first question, Arbitrator determined that by utilizing "related entities" to perform work, Employer "violated the Recognition, Wages and Fringe Benefits and Work Preservation provisions of the Agreements between it and the . .. Union[]." Id. at 30. As to the second question, Arbitrator applied "[t]he customary and most frequent remedy utilized by arbitrators under similar situations," namely, "a monetary award of damages to unit employees equal to the work opportunities afforded non-union employees." Id. Lost wages and benefits were calculated by "multiplying the number of job hours per week by the applicable hourly contractual wage [or benefit] rate." Id. at 31. Accordingly, Arbitrator (1) awarded Union $89, 395.62, comprised of (a) $47, 021.90 in unpaid wages; (b) $39, 873.72 in unpaid benefits; and (c) $2, 500.00 in fees and (2) ordered Employer to "cooperate fully with any inquiry or audit" by Union. Id. at 35-36.

         On October 15, 2018, Employer petitioned this Court to vacate the arbitration award. See Innovative Design and Development, LLC v. New Jersey Building Construction Laborers District Council Building and General Construction Laborers Local 3 & 77, No. 18-cv-14966, ECF No. 1. The same day, Union opened this matter and petitioned to confirm the Award. ECF No. 1. Again on the same day, another union opened a third action. See Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters as successors to Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, Northeast Carpenters Funds and the Trustees Thereof v. Innovative Masonry LLC d/b/a Innovative Design & Development, No. 18-cv-14975. As set forth in the Court's January 7, 2019 Order, after unwinding various motions, both parties were afforded opportunities to cross move for confirmation and vacatur. See ECF No. 6. Pending before the Court are those motions.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under the Federal Arbitration Act ("Act"), a court may vacate an arbitration award:

1. where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means;
2. where there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, or either of them;
3. where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy; or of any other misbehavior by which the rights of any party have been prejudiced; or
4. where the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite award upon the ...

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