United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. McFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
Alexander Bastani, Eleanor Lauderdale, and Kevin McCarron
(collectively, the “Local Officers”) claim that
the American Federation of Government Employees
(“AFGE”) wrongfully imposed an emergency
trusteeship on their local AFGE union in retaliation for
their protected speech and in violation of the AFGE
Constitution. AFGE moved for summary judgment. Upon
consideration of the pleadings and the entire record,
AFGE's Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted in
part and denied in part. AFGE is entitled to summary judgment
on Lauderdale and McCarron's claims in Count I of the
Complaint. But summary judgment will be denied for
Bastani's claim under Count I because there is still a
genuine dispute of material fact. Count II of the Complaint
will be dismissed as moot.
made up of more than 1, 000 local unions. Compl. 3, ECF No.
One of those local unions is the AFGE Local 12, part of the
larger AFGE District 14. Id. Local 12 is the largest
AFGE local union in the D.C. metropolitan area. Id.
two years, Local 12 holds elections for its officer
positions. Id. Beginning in April 2006, the Local
Officers began to serve as officers for Local 12.
Id. at 2. From April 2006 to October 2017, Alexander
Bastani was the local president, Eleanor Lauderdale was the
executive vice president, and Kevin McCarron was the
treasurer. Id. All planned to run for reelection in
October 2017. Id. at 3.
14 Vice President Eric Bunn received several complaints about
the management of Local 12 while Bastani, Lauderdale, and
McCarron were Local 12 officers. Bunn Dep. 4-7, ECF No.
34-11. Bunn assigned Nathan Nelson to investigate.
Id. at 3:6-13. In January 2017, Bunn submitted a
recommendation to AFGE National President J. David Cox that
Local 12 be placed in a trusteeship. See Mem. from
Bunn to Cox (Jan. 13, 2017), ECF No. 35-14; Bunn Dep.
3:18-4:14, ECF No. 35-13. Nothing appears to have resulted
from that recommendation. Bunn Dep. 4:17-19, ECF No. 35-13.
Bunn was undeterred. Later that year, he again submitted a
memo to Cox recommending that he place Local 12 in a
trusteeship. See Mem. from Bunn to Cox (Sept. 21,
2017), ECF No. 35-5. The memo claimed to outline a
“pattern of egregious misconduct” by Local
12's officers and stated that Local 12 needed to be
“placed in a trusteeship for the purpose of
safeguarding and protecting the local.” Id. at
AFGE Constitution, which governs AFGE administrative
processes and AFGE's relationship with local unions,
allows the national president to impose a trusteeship on an
expedited basis when there is a “violation of law
established by a preponderance of evidence.” AFGE,
Const. and Rules 12 (2015), ECF No. 1-3. Relying on this
provision of the AFGE Constitution, Cox forwarded a ballot to
members of AFGE's National Executive Counsel
(“NEC”) to vote on whether to impose a
trusteeship on Local 12. Mem. from Cox to NEC (Sept. 26,
2017), ECF No. 15-2. Cox and Bunn recused themselves from the
vote. Hr'g Tr. 78:13- 79:23 (Apr. 16, 2018), ECF No. 19.
voted to place Local 12 under a trusteeship. Mem. From Cox to
NEC (Oct. 4, 2017), ECF No. 15-3. Cox notified Local 12 of
the trusteeship. Mem. from Cox to Members, AFGE Local 12
(Oct. 4, 2017), ECF No. 1-4. The notice stated that the basis
for the trusteeship was a “violation of law” and
cited three examples of misconduct:
“[T]he Local Executive Board have [sic] failed to abide
by a vote of the Local membership, conducted in September
2016, regarding the establishment of an audit committee and
the hiring of an outside vendor for conducting an audit. The
Local also failed to honor the vote of the membership at
meetings to fund members' representation, and there have
been expenditures without proper approval, specifically $18,
000 at the Hyatt Regency. All of this is in violation of 5
U.S.C. § 501(a) and 29 C.F.R. § 458.32.”
Id. at 1. As a result of the trusteeship, Bastani,
Lauderdale, McCarron, and all other incumbent Local 12
officers were automatically removed from office. Id.
Cox appointed Nelson to act as the Local 12 trustee.
two months later, pursuant to the AFGE Constitution, Cox
convened a three-member panel to review AFGE's expedited
trusteeship decision. Compl. 7. The panel issued a decision
affirming AFGE's imposition of the trusteeship. Bastani
Dep. 6:3-8, ECF No. 34-4.
Local Officers then filed a Complaint here seeking a
preliminary and permanent injunction on Local 12's
trusteeship as well as declaratory and monetary relief.
Compl. 13-14. Following an evidentiary hearing with testimony
from several key witnesses, the Court denied the Local
Officers' request for a preliminary injunction. Hr'g
Tr. 65:2-4 (Apr. 17, 2018), ECF No. 20. The Court also
granted in part and denied in part AFGE's Motion to
Dismiss. Id. at 66- 76. The Court dismissed Count
III of the Local Officers' Complaint which alleged a
breach of contract under D.C. law. Id. at 74:24. But
the Court found that the Local Officers had plausibly stated
a claim upon which relief could be granted for a violation of
their free speech rights under Section 102(a)(2) of the
Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
(“LMRDA”), id. at 66:22-23, 69:12-13,
and for a breach of the AFGE Constitution under Section
301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”), id. at 71:2-3, 73:5-6.
2018, before exiting the trusteeship, Local 12 held an
election for its officers. Bastani Dep. at 6:21-7:2, ECF No.
34-4. Bastani, Lauderdale, and McCarron ran for office again
and none of them were re-elected. Id. at 6:21-7:6;
Lauderdale Dep. 6:20-7:5, ECF No. 34-5; McCarron Dep.
12:2-15, ECF No. 34-6. AFGE lifted the Local 12 trusteeship
the following month. Mot. Summ. J. 8, ECF No. 34-1.
prevail on a motion for summary judgment, a movant must show
that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986);
Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A
material fact is “genuine” if “a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The moving party bears
the initial responsibility for showing the lack of a genuine
dispute. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The nonmoving
party must, then, point to “specific facts” in
the record “showing that there is a genuine issue for
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court “must
assume the truth of all statements proffered by the
non-movant except for conclusory allegations lacking any
factual basis in the record.” Dist. Intown Props.
Ltd. P'ship. v. District of Columbia, 198 F.3d 874,
878 (D.C. Cir. 1999). The Court's function at the summary
judgment stage is not to “weigh the evidence and
determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 249.