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Judge Nixes UNITE Motion To Dismiss Civil Lawsuit

NEW YORK — A California Superior Court judge in Los Angeles Wednesday struck down UNITE’s motion to dismiss a civil suit filed against it in May by a man who claims he was assaulted by a union staffer after a strike at a home textiles...

NEW YORK — A California Superior Court judge in Los Angeles Wednesday struck down UNITE’s motion to dismiss a civil suit filed against it in May by a man who claims he was assaulted by a union staffer after a strike at a home textiles company.

The court also ruled not to limit the amount of damages the plaintiff, Matthew Kahn, is seeking and not to limit his investigation into the union’s involvement in the alleged assault.

The suit focuses on a May 18, 2001, incident, in which Kahn — an employee of Los Angeles-based Labor Ready Southwest Inc., an outsourcing firm hired by Hollander Home Fashions to provide temporary replacement labor during a strike — claims to have been assaulted by union organizer Ramiro Hernandez and unnamed union supporters. According to their lawyers, Hernandez and Kahn were arrested after the fight, but all charges were dropped.

“The case can continue to go forward. The union cannot limit Kahn’s ability to seek damages or seek information,” said a spokesman for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a nonprofit group that helps workers who believe their rights have been infringed by a trade union.

Peter Nussbaum, an attorney with the San Francisco law firm Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain, which is representing UNITE, pointed out that the ruling was a technical one that allowed the case to go forward, and “not a comment on the substance of any of their claims.”