United States District Court, D. New Jersey
LABORERS' LOCAL UNION NOS. 472 & 172 AND LABORERS' LOCAL UNION NOS. 472 & 172 WELFARE AND PENSION FUNDS AND SAFETY, EDUCATION AND TRAINING FUNDS; and ZAZZALI, FAGELLA, NOVAK, KLEINBAUM & FRIEDMAN, P.C., Petitioners/Cross-Respondents,
NINSA, LLC, Respondent/Cross-Petitioner.
H. O'HARE ZAZZALI, FAGELLA, NOWAK, KLEINBAUM &
FRIEDMAN, PC COUNSEL FOR PETITIONERS/CROSS-RESPONDENTS.
CHARLES E. WOOLSON, JR. LAW FIRM OF CHARLES E. WOOLSON, JR.
LLC COUNSEL FOR RESPONDENT/CROSS-PETITIONER.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court on Laborers' Local Union
Nos. 472 & 172 and Laborers' Local Union Nos. 472
& 172 Welfare and Pension Funds and Safety, Education and
Training Funds; and Zazzali, Fagella, Novak, Kleinbaum &
Friedman, P.C.'s (collectively,
“Petitioners”) motion to confirm an arbitration
award (ECF No. 2) and NINSA, LLC's
(“Respondent”) cross-motion to vacate the same
arbitration award (ECF No. 7). For the reasons set forth
below, Petitioners' motion will be granted, and
Respondent's motion will be denied.
dispute underlying this action centers around whether
Respondent adequately contributed to fringe-benefit funds as
required by a relevant collective bargaining agreement (the
“CBA”). In relevant part, the CBA requires
Respondent to make certain contributions to general welfare,
pension, and vacation funds in a manner specified by the
agreement. See (ECF No. 1 at 16-17). In order to
ensure employers adequately comply with their contribution
requirements, the CBA provides that “the Trustees of
the Fund shall have the right to require such reports from
Employers as are necessary for the fulfillment of the
Trustees' duties under the Agreement” and shall
“have the right to inspect, at reasonable times and
places, the employment, payroll and such other payroll
related records of the Employer as are relevant to questions
of the accuracy and/or comprehensive-ness of reports
submitted by the Employer.” (ECF No. 1 at 16).
According to the record, the trustees of the funds directed
that an audit of Respondent's books be conducted to
determine whether Respondent complied with its contribution
obligations. (ECF No. 1 at 21, ¶3). On July 20, 2018, an
auditor determined that Respondent's contributions were
delinquent and deficient, and that Respondent owed $368,
674.26 to the various funds. (Id.).
dispute was then presented for arbitration. On October 25,
2018, the parties appeared before the permanent arbitrator as
set by the CBA, J.J. Pierson, Esq. A hearing was held, at
which the arbitrator considered evidence and live testimony.
Prior to issuing the award, the arbitrator directed the
parties to file supplemental briefing on various issues,
evincing a thorough consideration of the matter.
5, 2019, the arbitrator rendered factual findings in a ten
(10) page award, ultimately concluding that Respondent was
bound by the CBA, the terms of which governed the
parties' dispute; Respondent owed the funds $368, 674.26
plus interest in the amount of $113, 060.10; Respondent owed
the law firm of Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, Kleinbaum &
Friedman attorneys' fees, as provided for by the CBA, in
the amount of $73, 734.85; and Respondent, pursuant to the
CBA, was responsible for the arbitrator's fee of $2, 500.
(ECF No. 1 at 22). In total, the award commands Respondent to
pay Petitioners $557, 969.21. (ECF No. 1 at 22).
21, 2019, Petitioners filed the present action seeking to
confirm the arbitration award (ECF Nos. 1 and 2). Respondent
opposed and filed a cross-motion to vacate the arbitration
award (ECF No. 7), which Petitioners timely opposed (ECF No.
14). As such, the pending motions are either fully briefed,
or the time within which to oppose them has passed, rendering
them ripe for adjudication.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) does not create
any “independent federal-question jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1331 or otherwise.” Moses H. Cone
Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, n.
32, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74 L.Ed.2d 765 (1983). “However,
Section 301 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185, ‘grants
this Court jurisdiction to confirm or vacate arbitration
awards between a labor union and an employer.'”
Id. (quoting Indep. Lab. Emples. Union, Inc. v.
ExxonMobil Research & Eng'g Co., No.
18-10835, 2019 WL 3416897, at *4 (D.N.J. July 29, 2019)).
Here, Petitioners properly brought this action to confirm an
arbitration award between a labor union and an employer
pursuant to the FAA and allege that the LMRA provides this
Court with adequate subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court,
therefore, exercises subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to
29 U.S.C. § 185.
Whether Confirmation of the Arbitration Award Is
argues that the arbitration award should be vacated pursuant
to 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(3) because the arbitrator failed to
consider a defense it raised. Specifically, Respondent argues
that the arbitrator failed to consider “a letter dated
September 1, 2018 from [Respondent] to Petitioner . . . [that
was] introduced at the hearing and marked Exhibit F-2”
that Respondent alleges evinces the existence of a
condition-precedent to its agreement to enter into the CBA, a
condition Respondent alleges had not been satisfied.
See (ECF No. 7-1 at 2). Respondent concedes that
“the letter was referenced ...