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Tarantino v. Riddell

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

November 17, 2017

JEFFERY RIDDELL, et al., Defendants.



         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon the Motion to Dismiss Complaint filed by Defendants Jeffery Riddell, Sandra Munoz, and Gail Thompson (collectively, “Defendants”) on September 6, 2017, ECF No. [25]. The Court has carefully reviewed the Motion, all opposing and supporting materials, the record in this case and the applicable law, and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint, ECF No. [13] (“Complaint”), pursuant to Section 501(b) of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 501, et seq. (“LMRDA”) on July 24, 2017. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated Section 501(a) of the LMRDA by breaching their fiduciary duties to the Broward County Area Local-1201 of the American Postal Workers Union (“Union”). ECF No. [13] ¶ 1.

         Plaintiff is an employee of the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) and a member of the Union. Id. ¶ 4. Defendants Riddell, Munoz, and Thompson serve as the President, Vice President, and Maintenance Craft Shop Steward, respectively, of the Union. Id. ¶ 5-7. The events that precipitated this lawsuit began when Tarantino, who was certified by Defendant Riddell to serve as a representative for the maintenance craft in internal Union arbitrations, assisted in an overtime settlement for certain Union members working in the USPS Fort Lauderdale Main Office. Id. ¶¶ 9-10, 14 (the “Fort Lauderdale Settlement” or “Settlement”). While it is not clear from the allegations in the Complaint under what circumstances Tarantino and Defendant Thompson began discussing the Fort Lauderdale Settlement, Tarantino and Thompson apparently engaged in a “heated disagreement” about the potential compensation Thompson would receive as a result of the Settlement. Id. ¶¶ 15, 52-53. Plaintiff alleges that after this disagreement, Thompson “made numerous complaints” to Riddell and Munoz, and as a result Plaintiff was “decertified” from handling the Fort Lauderdale Settlement. Id. ¶¶ 16, 55. According to Plaintiff, after he was decertified, Riddell and Munoz “signed off on the [S]ettlement, ” which included certain payments to Thompson which Plaintiff did not believe that Thompson deserved. Id. ¶ 16.

         Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff states that he “resigned” and requested information about the salaries of Riddell and Munoz. Id. ¶ 18. Tarantino alleges did not receive the requested salary information from the Union, but he did receive certain monthly financial reports. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. According to these reports, Riddell and Munoz received salaries from the Union while also performing some work for the “International Union.” Id. ¶¶ 20, 25-29, 31-35. Plaintiff alleges both Riddell and Munoz, as salaried employees of the Union, may not perform any work that is not “for the benefit of the Local Union” and that performing work for the International Union is not part of their duties under the Union's constitution. Id. Plaintiff also alleges that Riddell and Munoz did not submit the “required Leave Without Pay slips” for the days when they performed work for the International Union, resulting in both the Union and the International Union paying Riddell and Munoz for the same work. Id. ¶¶ 37-38, 40-41.

         Based on this information, Plaintiff filed internal charges with the Union which were dismissed by a three member panel of the executive board. Id. ¶ 21. Subsequently, Plaintiff alleges he sent a “demand to sue to recover” letter and that no response was received. Id. ¶ 22. It is not alleged who Plaintiff sent this letter to or when it was sent.

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges nine causes of action. Counts I-IV allege that Riddell and Munoz violated Section 501 when they performed duties for both the Union and the International Union in violation of their fiduciary duties and were doubly compensated for that work. Id. ¶¶ 25-29, 31-35, 37-38, 40-41. Counts V-VI allege that Riddell and Munoz violated Section 501 when they failed to disclose their salaries. Id. ¶¶ 43, 45. Counts VII-VIII allege that Munoz and Riddell violated Section 501 by breaching their fiduciary duties to the Union when they signed off on the Fort Lauderdale Settlement. Id. ¶¶ 47, 49. Count IX, the only count against Thompson, alleges that Thompson violated Section 501 when she received compensation from the Fort Lauderdale Settlement. Id. ¶¶ 51-58.

         While Defendants initially moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), within their Reply Defendants have withdrawn their 12(b)(1) arguments. ECF No. [30] at 1. Accordingly, the Court will only address Defendants' arguments under 12(b)(6), as well as Defendants' arguments regarding lack of service. Defendants do not move to dismiss Count III and only move to dismiss Count IV based upon a lack of service.


         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To survive such a motion, a claim “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, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Although this pleading standard “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' . . . it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ” meaning that a plaintiff is required to plead sufficient “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-56). Thus, while a court must accept well-pleaded factual allegations as true, “conclusory allegations . . . are not entitled to an assumption of truth-legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations.” Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 709-10 (11th Cir. 2010).

         When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court construes the pleadings broadly and views the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bishop v. Ross Earle & Bonan, P.A., 817 F.3d 1268, 1270 (11th Cir. 2016); Levine v. World Fin. Network Nat'l Bank, 437 F.3d 1118, 1120 (11th Cir. 2006). Additionally, pro se pleadings, as before the Court here, are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must be liberally construed. Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003); see also Faulk v. City of Orlando, 731 F.2d 787, 789-90 (11th Cir. 1984) (“A pro se complaint ‘however inartfully pleaded must be held to ‘less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers' ”) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 107 (1976)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Documents Considered by the Court

         As a threshold matter, the Court first considers which portions of the record may be properly considered on this Motion. On March 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Request for Leave of Court to file his Complaint as required by statute. See ECF No. [1] (“Request”). Per Plaintiff's election, this Request was filed ex parte. See Id. Plaintiff attached to the Request several exhibits which appear to be communications with Union officials and Union governing materials and financial records. See ECF No. [1-1]. However, when Plaintiff filed his ...

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