United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE
COMPLAINT OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
C. Kay Sr. United States District Judge
reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Defendant Lance
Yoshimura's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or in the
Alternative for Judgment on the Pleadings
(“Motion”), ECF No. 12.
21, 2015, prior to the filing of the instant suit, Defendant
Lance Yoshimura (“Yoshimura”) filed a complaint
against Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 745
(“the Union”) and Ronald Taketa
(“Taketa”) in the Circuit Court of the First
Circuit, State of Hawaii (the “State Court
Action”) asserting claims related to his termination
from the Union. Shanley Decl. Ex 1 (State Court Complaint).
The State Court Action included four claims: Violation of the
Hawaii Whistleblowers' Protection Act; Unlawful
Termination as Against Public Policy; Negligent Infliction of
Emotional Distress; and Tortious Interference with a Business
Relationship. Id. ¶¶ 21-39.
claims stemmed from circumstances surrounding Yoshimura's
employment and eventual termination from the Union. Yoshimura
alleged that from 2000 until March 7, 2014, he was an
employee of the Union. Id. ¶¶ 6, 19.
According to Yoshimura, Taketa is the Union's Regional
Council Head, Executive Secretary, and Treasurer, and Taketa
appointed Yoshimura to the position of Assistant Business
Representative and Interim Marketing Development Director.
Id. ¶¶ 3, 6. Yoshimura contended that in
2011, the United States Department of Labor
(“Department of Labor” or “DOL”)
informed the Union of an upcoming audit of a Union trust
fund. Id. ¶ 7. Yoshimura alleged that in
preparation for the audit, the Union sought to falsify time
records to cover up its failure to keep accurate and complete
records and that Taketa instructed Yoshimura to inform Union
business representatives to create false time records.
Id. ¶ 9. Yoshimura claimed that he repeatedly
objected to the Union's scheme and eventually filed
complaints with both the Department of Labor and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. Id. ¶¶ 9, 12, 15,
18. In retaliation, according to Yoshimura, the Union
terminated his employment. Id. ¶ 19.
Union removed the action to this district court arguing that
the claims were preempted by the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Yoshimura v.
Hawaii Carpenters Union Local 475 et al., Civ. No.
15-00292 HG-RLP (“2015 USDC Action”), ECF No. 1.
The Union also filed in this district court a counterclaim
for violation of Section 501(a) of the Labor Management
Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (“LMRDA”)
alleging that Yoshimura breached his fiduciary duty to the
Union by causing dissension, trying to divide the staff for
his own interests, and falsely accusing the Union of stealing
assets for his own personal gain
(“Counterclaim”). Shanley Decl. Ex. 2, ¶ 22.
The Counterclaim alleged that Yoshimura used the DOL
investigation to attempt to oust Taketa from his position as
Executive Secretary-Treasurer (“EST”) so that
Yoshimura could take over. Id. ¶¶ 4-5, 14.
According to the Union, Yoshimura used the fact that the
Union failed to keep contemporaneous time records to
demonstrate that Taketa needed to be replaced. Id.
district court determined that ERISA did not preempt
Yoshimura's claims and, accordingly, that the court
lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Motion, Ex. 1 (Order
Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Complaint and Remanding Proceedings to the Circuit Court of
the First Circuit, State of Hawaii), at 20, ECF No. 12-2. The
court held that the Union's Counterclaim could not serve
as a basis for the court's federal question jurisdiction.
Id. at 19. Accordingly, on October 15, 2015, the
court remanded the case. Id. at 20-21.
April 26, 2016, the Union filed the instant case against
Yoshimura. Compl., ECF No. 1. The Complaint includes two
causes of action: 1) Breach of Fiduciary Duties under the
LMRDA (29 U.S.C. § 501(a)) related to Yoshimura's
alleged theft of union and membership records, secret audio
recordings of confidential conversations, and breach of
confidential agreements, id. ¶¶ 27, 28,
34-35; and 2) Violation of the Federal Wiretap Statute, (18
U.S.C. § 2510, et seq.), in relation to allegations of
secret audio recordings of confidential conversations,
id. ¶¶ 40-43. The Union alleges that
Yoshimura's theft of records, secret audio recordings,
and other “illicit conduct was done” to cover his
breach of fiduciary duties and to “extort” from
EST Taketa “the support and commitment necessary for
Yoshimura to be appointed the next EST.” Id.
¶ 3. According to the Union, Yoshimura stole the records
and secretly recorded the communications “in attempt to
force the current EST to make him the next EST.”
Id. ¶ 4.
9, 2016, Yoshimura filed his Motion to Dismiss the Complaint
or in the Alternative for Judgment on the Pleadings arguing
that 1) the Union's claims in the instant suit are
compulsory counterclaims to the pending State Court Action
that should be dismissed; and 2) in the alternative, if the
wiretap claim is properly pled, Yoshimura is entitled to
judgment on the pleadings with respect to that claim.
Union filed its Memorandum in Opposition on August 22, 2016.
ECF No. 23. Yoshimura filed his Reply on August 29, 2016. ECF
hearing on the motion was held on September 12, 2016.
Motion to Dismiss
Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(6)
authorizes the Court to dismiss a complaint that fails
“to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Pursuant to Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
“[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007)). In
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.
Sateriale v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 697 F.3d
777, 783 (9th Cir. 2012).
Rule 12(b)(6), review is generally limited to the contents of
the complaint. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors,
266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Campanelli v.
Bockrath, 100 F.3d 1476, 1479 (9th Cir. 1996). However,
courts may “consider certain materials-documents
attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by
reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial
notice-without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion
for summary judgment.” United States v.
Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003). Accordingly,
the Court takes judicial notice of the fact of the filing or
issuance of the publicly recorded documents attached to
Yoshimura's Motion and to the Union's Opposition.
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits a party to move for
judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings are closed, but
early enough not to delay trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c).
“Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), judgment
on the pleadings is proper ‘when, taking all the
allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true,
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.'” Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 486
F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Alexander v.
City and Cnty. of Honolulu, 545 F.Supp.2d 1122, 1130 (D.
Haw. 2008). The standard governing a Rule 12(c) motion for
judgment on the pleadings is ...