U.S. v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., No. 96 CR 513.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Writing for the CourtAnn Claire Williams
Citation970 F.Supp. 1346
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. PITT-Des MOINES, INC., Defendant.
Decision Date18 June 1997
Docket NumberNo. 96 CR 513.
970 F.Supp. 1346
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
PITT-Des MOINES, INC., Defendant.
No. 96 CR 513.
United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.
June 18, 1997.

Page 1347

Daniel Francis Gallagher, Querrey & Harrow, Ltd., Chicago, IL, R. Henry Moore, Buchanan Ingersoll Prof. Corp., Pittsburg,

Page 1348

PA, George Patrick Lynch, Lisle, IL, for defendant.

Mark S. Hersh, U.S. Atty. Office, Chicago, IL, for U.S.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN CLAIRE WILLIAMS, District Judge.


The United States of America is prosecuting Defendant Pitt-Des Moines, Inc. for its alleged willful violations of two regulations promulgated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the "OSH Act"). Before the court are various motions to dismiss the indictment pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b). For reasons set forth below, the court denies these motions.

Background

A federal grand jury, on August 19, 1996, indicted defendant on two counts of violating 29 U.S.C. § 666(e), which makes it a criminal misdemeanor offense for an employer willfully to violate any OSH Act regulation where that violation causes the death of an employee. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss the Indictment Based Upon Violation of the Def.'s Constitutional Rights Against Double Jeopardy and Res Judicata ("Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1") at 4). Specifically, the indictment charges that defendant willfully violated two OSH Act regulations — 29 C.F.R. §§ 1926.751(a), the "two-bolt rule", and 1926.21(b)(2), the "training rule". Id. The violations allegedly related to a deadly accident, which occurred during construction of the United States Postal Service General Mail Facility (the "Post Office"). Id. at 1.

The general contractor of the Post Office construction project hired defendant to fabricate and erect the structural steel for the Post Office project. (Gov't Resp. to Def.'s Pretrial Mot. ("Gov't Resp.") at 1). On November 3, 1993, during construction of the Post Office, sixty plus structural steel members collapsed without warning, causing the death of two ironworkers. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1 at 1; Gov't Resp. at 2). The Occupation Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") immediately investigated this accident. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1 at 1; Gov't Resp. at 3). OSHA's investigation included interviews with witnesses, review of documents, and expert examination and analysis. (Gov't Resp. at 3). These investigations persuaded OSHA that the failure of a connection between a specific and identified horizontal beam and vertical column caused the collapse. (Gov't Resp. at 4). As a result, on May 2, 1994, OSHA issued defendant one "serious" and one "willful" citation. Id. The "willful" citation charged the company with willful violations of both the two-bolt rule and the training rule. Id.

Defendant contested the citations. On May 23, 1994, the Department of Labor ("DOL") filed its complaint against defendant with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ("OSHRC"), who assigned it to an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1 at 2; Gov't Resp. at 5). Defendant commenced discovery on June 24, 1994, serving the Secretary with interrogatories and a document request.1 (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1 at 2). Shortly thereafter, the DOL moved for a stay of the civil proceedings, citing the potential for a criminal prosecution of the matter by the Department of Justice ("DOJ"). Id. On August 4, 1994, OSHA filed an unopposed motion for a stay stating that it had referred the matter to the DOJ.2 (Gov't Resp. at 5). On August 11, 1994, the ALJ granted the stay. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1 at 2).

Page 1349

On October 14, 1994, defendant moved the ALJ to lift the stay of the administrative proceeding because OSHA had not been diligent in transferring its information to the U.S. Attorney's office. (Mem. of Law in Support of the Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 2 at Ex. A). However, defendant withdrew this motion six weeks later in order to provide the DOJ "a full opportunity to carefully evaluate the case." (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss the Indictment or Suppress Evidence Acquired by the Gov't in Violation of the Def.'s Rights to Due Process of Law ("Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 2") at 3); (Gov't Resp. at 6). On December 2, 1994, the ALJ extended the stay until on or about February 2, 1995. Id. On February 1, 1995, defendant again requested that the ALJ lift the stay, because defendant believed OSHA was using the stay to obtain an unfair advantage in discovery.3 Id. The ALJ, on February 8, 1995, granted this request, and, soon thereafter, ordered the DOL to respond to defendant's legitimate discovery requests. Id.

The DOL continued to refuse defendant's discovery requests, stating that compliance would jeopardize the Government's ongoing criminal investigation. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1 at 3; Gov't Resp. at 6). Subsequently, the ALJ ordered the government to comply, but the government refused despite an acknowledgment that such refusal could result in dismissal of the civil case. Id. at 3-4. Accordingly, defendant moved to dismiss the case, and, on April 28, 1995, the ALJ dismissed the complaint with prejudice and on the merits, because of "the Government's failure to bring a criminal proceeding and its refusal to proceed in the civil proceeding." (Id.; Gov't Resp. at 6 (citing Final Order, OSHRC Docket No. 94-1355)). The DOL appealed this order to the OSHRC. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss # 1 at 4).

On March 24, 1997, the commission reversed the ALJ's dismissal decision and remanded the civil case for reinstatement and issuance of a stay pending the criminal proceeding's completion. Secretary of Labor v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., OSHRC Docket No. 94-1355 (March 24, 1997). Among other things, the commission was concerned that there was a significant potential for discovery abuse without the stay. Id.

Analysis

A motion to dismiss an indictment is more similar to a civil Rule 12(b)(6) motion, which tests the sufficiency of the underlying complaint (here the indictment). United States v. Apple, 927 F.Supp. 1119, 1121 (N.D.Ind.1996). Thus, as with a rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true all factual allegations in the indictment. See United States v. Wood, 925 F.2d 1580, 1581(7th Cir.1991) (citation omitted); See also Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 118, 110 S.Ct. 975, 979, 108 L.Ed.2d 100 (1990) (motion to dismiss); Colfax Corp. v. Illinois State Toll Highway Auth., 79 F.3d 631, 632 (7th Cir.1996) (rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss) (citation omitted). Additionally, all uncontested allegations to which the parties had an opportunity to respond are taken as true. See Alexander v. City of Chicago, 994 F.2d 333, 335 (7th Cir.1993). Lastly, the court may take judicial notice of matters of public record. See Henson v. CSC Credit Servs., 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir.1994); Wood, 925 F.2d at 1582.

I. VAGUENESS

Defendant first argues that the OSH Act regulations upon which the indictment is based are invalid and unenforceable because they are unconstitutionally vague. Consequently, defendant argues, the indictment too is invalid. The court disagrees.

Page 1350

The court examines vagueness challenges to regulations that do not involve the fundamental rights of the defendant in light of the facts of the case at hand on an "as-applied" basis. See Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U.S. 356, 361, 108 S.Ct. 1853, 1857-58, 100 L.Ed.2d 372 (1988); see also Faultless Div. v. Secretary of Labor, 674 F.2d 1177, 1185 (7th Cir.1982) ("When considering remedial legislation such as the OSH Act and its implementing regulations, the vagueness ... is judged ... in light of its application to the facts of the case. "). Thus, the court will uphold the challenge only if the regulation is impermissibly vague in all of its applications. See Village of Hoffman Estates v. Flipside Hoffman Estates, Inc., 455 U.S. 489, 494-95, 102 S.Ct. 1186, 1191-92, 71 L.Ed.2d 362 (1982). "A plaintiff who engages in some conduct that is clearly proscribed cannot complain of the vagueness of the law as applied to the conduct of others. A court should therefore examine the complainant's conduct before analyzing other hypothetical applications of the law." Id. at 495, 102 S.Ct. at 1191.

The test courts apply here is "whether the standard is so indefinite that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application." Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, 542 F.2d 27, 30 (7th Cir.1976) (citing Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 643, 88 S.Ct. 1274, 1282-83, 20 L.Ed.2d 195 (1968)). "[A]ll that due process requires is a fair and reasonable warning." Faultless Div., 674 F.2d at 1185 (citing Allis-Chalmers Corp., 542 F.2d at 30); see also Maynard, 486 U.S. at 361, 108 S.Ct. at 1857-58 (vagueness challenge may be overcome in a particular case if a reasonable person would know that their conduct is at risk). A regulation must contain minimum guidelines to govern law enforcement and provide a basis for determining what to do in order to comply. See Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 357, 103 S.Ct. 1855, 1858, 75 L.Ed.2d 903 (1983) (holding that courts must determine whether a statute or regulation provides a person of ordinary intelligence a fair and reasonable warning of what conduct it prohibits or requires); see also Faultless Div., 674 F.2d at 1185; Georgia Pacific Corp. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, 25 F.3d 999, 1004 (11th Cir. 1994). A regulation will pass constitutional muster even though it is not drafted with the utmost precision. Faultless Div., 674 F.2d at 1185 (citation omitted).

According to the above standards, courts have denied vagueness challenges to statutes with terms that are less than definite. For instance, in Allis-Chalmers the Seventh Circuit faced a vagueness challenge to a general OSH Act requirement that ordered employers to use scaffolding in...

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6 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Segal, No. 02 CR 112.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • January 12, 2004
    ...to the government." United States v. Yashar, 166 F.3d 873, 880 (7th Cir.1999); see also United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., 970 F.Supp. 1346, 1349 (N.D.Ill.1997) (comparing a motion to dismiss an indictment to a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss); United St......
  • U.S. v. Caputo, No. 03 CR 0126.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • October 21, 2003
    ...to the government." United States v. Yashar, 166 F.3d 873, 880 (7th Cir.1999); see also United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc. 970 F.Supp. 1346, 1349 (N.D.Ill.1997) (comparing a motion to dismiss an indictment to a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss); United Sta......
  • Cage v. Harper, Case No. 17-cv-7621
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 16, 2020
    ...motion, which tests the sufficiency of the underlying complaint (here the indictment)." United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., 970 F. Supp. 1346, 1349 (N.D. Ill. 1997). The effect of an indictment dismissal is also similar to that of a complete civil dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6); the......
  • HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERV. v. Dept. of Labor, No. S-8453
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • April 7, 2000
    ...126, 70 L.Ed. 322 (1926)); see also Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. OSHRC, 542 F.2d 27, 30 (7th Cir.1976); United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, 970 F.Supp. 1346, 1350 52. See, e.g., Vanco Constr., Inc. v. Donovan, 723 F.2d 410, 412 (5th Cir.1984). 53. See Martin v. American Cyanamid Co., 5 F.3d 140, 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • U.S. v. Segal, No. 02 CR 112.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • January 12, 2004
    ...to the government." United States v. Yashar, 166 F.3d 873, 880 (7th Cir.1999); see also United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., 970 F.Supp. 1346, 1349 (N.D.Ill.1997) (comparing a motion to dismiss an indictment to a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss); United St......
  • U.S. v. Caputo, No. 03 CR 0126.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • October 21, 2003
    ...to the government." United States v. Yashar, 166 F.3d 873, 880 (7th Cir.1999); see also United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc. 970 F.Supp. 1346, 1349 (N.D.Ill.1997) (comparing a motion to dismiss an indictment to a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss); United Sta......
  • Cage v. Harper, Case No. 17-cv-7621
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 16, 2020
    ...motion, which tests the sufficiency of the underlying complaint (here the indictment)." United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., 970 F. Supp. 1346, 1349 (N.D. Ill. 1997). The effect of an indictment dismissal is also similar to that of a complete civil dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6); the......
  • HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERV. v. Dept. of Labor, No. S-8453
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • April 7, 2000
    ...126, 70 L.Ed. 322 (1926)); see also Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. OSHRC, 542 F.2d 27, 30 (7th Cir.1976); United States v. Pitt-Des Moines, 970 F.Supp. 1346, 1350 52. See, e.g., Vanco Constr., Inc. v. Donovan, 723 F.2d 410, 412 (5th Cir.1984). 53. See Martin v. American Cyanamid Co., 5 F.3d 140, 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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