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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
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Posted: September 27, 2015

Claims Against Union and its Officers Dismissed Under Martin Rule

On September 23, 2015, the Second Department issued a decision in Cablevision Systems Corp. v. Communications Workers of America District 1, 2015 NY Slip Op. 06874, affirming the dismissal of claims against a labor union and its officers.

In Cablevision Systems, the plaintiff sued, among others, a labor union and several of its officers for “harassment in the second degree (Penal Law § 240.26), trespass, stalking in the fourth degree (Penal Law § 120.45), disorderly conduct (Penal Law § 240.20), and tortious interference with contractual and business relations.” The Second Department affirmed the trial court’s decision dismissing the complaint, holding, among other things, that:

The Martin rule (see Martin v Curran, 303 NY 276) bars all actions against an unincorporated voluntary membership association, and bars claims against the officers of such an association in their representative capacities where there is no allegation that the members of the association authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct complained of. The Supreme Court properly applied the Martin rule in dismissing the complaint against the defendants Communications Workers of America District 1 and Communications Workers of America Local 1109 (hereinafter together the union defendants) and the defendants Christopher M. Shelton, Rolando Scott, Timothy Dubnau, Erin Mahoney, and Zelig Stern (hereinafter collectively the individual defendants) in their representative capacities as officers of the union defendants. Contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, the Martin rule applies to claims for injunctive relief.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).

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