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Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association, Inc. v. Frank O'Laughlin Plumbing & Heating Co.

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

June 13, 2013

Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association, Inc., a Minnesota non-profit corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
Frank O'Laughlin Plumbing & Heating Company, a Minnesota corporation d/b/a O'Laughlin Plumbing & Heating, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PAUL A. MAGNUSON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' Motion is denied and summary judgment is awarded in favor of Defendant.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association brought this action alleging that Defendant Frank O'Laughlin Plumbing & Heating Co., a family-owned company that provides plumbing and heating services in the Winona area, failed to pay fringe benefits to Plaintiff's beneficiaries, Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 6.

The facts are largely uncontested. O'Laughlin first entered into a collective bargaining agreement with Local 6 in 2000. The CBA requires O'Laughlin to contribute to employee benefit funds for all pipe work performed by its employees. The iteration of the CBA at issue provides as follows:

This Agreement shall be in full force and effect from the date hereon [December 1, 2009] to and including the 30th day of April 2011. Either party shall notify the other in writing ninety (90) days prior to the expiration date of the intent to cancel or amend this Agreement, or to renegotiate a new Agreement. Otherwise, this Agreement shall remain in effect from year to year thereafter.

(Hansen Aff. Ex. 1 (Docket No. 28).)

On January 27, 2011, O'Laughlin owner, Kim O'Laughlin, sent a letter to Local 6 stating as follows:

This letter is to inform you that Frank O'Laughlin Plumbing & Heating Co. Winona MN, 55987. Will be terminating its existing work agreement with Local #6 Plumbers & Fitters Effective January 31, 2011.

(Henderson Aff. Ex. 11.) It is undisputed that Local 6 received the termination letter within the 90-day termination period. More importantly, Steven Pettersen, a representative of Local 6, testified that he understood that the letter served as O'Laughlin's notice of termination:

Q: Did you ever have discussions with Kim O'Laughlin about O'Laughlin Plumbing disassociating itself with [the union]?
A. Well, I got the letter. He called me, he said he was going to do that.
Q: So, he said, you understood him to say I'm out of the - I'm not going to be involved in another union contract, ...

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