Foundation Attorneys Sock Teamsters with Racketeering Suit
MIAMI, Fla. -- "Does Rod Carter live there? Does he work for UPS?" demanded a threatening voice over the phone.
"Who is this? Why are you calling here?" asked Earthly Carter, Rod Carterís wife. It had been the fourth mysterious telephone call she had received that evening. All the previous calls ended with abrupt hang-ups, but this time, a man calling himself "Benny" asked about her husband and his location.
The next day, a man named "Benny" and four other Teamsters union militants brutally beat and stabbed Rod Carter, leaving him bleeding on the pavement.
You see, the evening before the beating, Rod Carter, a loyal driver for United Parcel Service (UPS), was interviewed on television and stated that he needed to continue working during the strike to provide for his family. Soon after, the frightening phone calls began.
Earthly Carter urged Rod not to return to work the next day -- or any other day -- until the Teamsters union bosses called off their strike against UPS.
Despite his wifeís reservations, Rod felt duty-bound to continue working to support her and two young daughters.
"My family is more important to me than a union or UPS," said Carter. "When my daughters come to me and ask me why they donít have this or that, I canít come up with the excuse: ĎWell! Iím striking.í"
His decision to exercise his Right to Work was about to cost him dearly.
The next day Rod and his co-worker, Andre Gooden, were to share a truck -- UPS didnít want drivers alone on their routes.
While stopped at a light just a block from the UPS building, a red Chevy pickup truck pulled alongside them. The pickup truck carried three striking union militants shouting slurs. Sworn statements indicate that as the truck pulled away, a Teamsters militant standing in the bed of the truck hurled a bottle at the two workers and proclaimed, "Iím going to kill you!"
Despite the union militantsí attempts at intimidation, Carter and Gooden continued on their route. Later that afternoon, they were stopped at a traffic signal when a green Jeep Cherokee pulled up behind them.
A Teamsters thug named Angel Mielgo rushed from the Jeep and ripped open the passenger door of the UPS truck.
Quickly, Mielgo began punching Carter. Carter was soon overwhelmed as four other goons leaped from the Jeep and joined in the beating. Carter collapsed to the ground while his five attackers continued to savagely beat him. During the melee, one of the attackers, Benigno "Benny" Rojas, stabbed Carter repeatedly with an ice pick.
After beating Carter for several more moments, the Teamsters thugs retreated back to their Jeep and sped away, leaving Carter lying on the sidewalk. The damage had been done -- the message sent.
"Foundation-provided attorneys are determined to ensure that this unconscionable activity by Teamsters toughs doesnít go unpunished," said Reed Larson, President of the Foundation.
The wide-ranging investigation conducted by Foundation attorneys focused not just on Carterís attackers, but also on the Teamsters local.
Local Teamsters president encouraged violence
Sworn statements obtained by Foundation attorneys indicate that Teamsters Local 769 President Anthony Cannestro Sr. called a meeting just before the strike was set to begin. At that meeting, he encouraged strikers to engage in "ambulatory pickets," which involved following non-striking UPS drivers on their routes to threaten, harass, and intimidate them as they attempted to do their jobs.
According to several affidavits by eyewitnesses at the meeting, the Teamsters Local president also promised cash for bail bonds and legal assistance to any union militant arrested for misconduct.
"Union officials suggested that there would be no repercussions for their actions, no matter how illegal, and promised them a Ďget-out-of-jail-freeí card," said Larson. "Then the Teamsters thugs were set loose, like hungry wolves in search of blood, on the streets of Miami."
The brutal attack on Rod Carter was by no means an isolated incident. The investigation by Foundation attorneys has uncovered more than 100 illegal acts in the Miami area alone against non-striking UPS employees in just four days, all of them leading up to the attack on Rod Carter. Included in those acts are the mysterious calls made to Earthly Carter, which phone records show were placed from the house of Local 769 president Anthony Cannestro Sr. (His son, Anthony Cannestro Jr., now claims that he was the one to make the calls.)
In the wake of a criminal trial by state prosecutors, which resulted in a prison sentence for Benigno Rojas for "aggravated battery" and probation for five other men (upon conviction of various counts of "accessory after the fact" and "attempted 2nd degree murder"), Foundation attorneys have now filed a civil complaint on behalf of the Carters against Teamsters officials, the thugs, and the unions.
The complaint, filed in Broward County Circuit Court, charges Benigno Rojas and the other men involved in the beating of Rod Carter with "Assault and Battery" as well as "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress."
Teamsters "criminal enterprise" leads to racketeering claim
The complaint also charges Teamsters Local 769, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, as well as union officials -- including Anthony Cannestro Sr. -- with negligence and civil conspiracy, resulting in part from the condoning of violence against non-striking workers.
Furthermore, the complaint demands that the court punish Teamsters Local 769 for being a "criminal enterprise" in violation of Floridaís racketeering law, as the illegal acts committed over the course of the four days leading up to the bloody attack constitute a "pattern of criminal activity" that was endorsed by Local 769 officials.
Foundation attorneys are asking the court to award Earthly Carter a financial award from all defendants for the damages suffered by her as a result of the loss of companionship and other damages resulting from Rodís beating and stabbing.
The Carters attempt to move on with their lives
After the attack, Rod testified in the criminal proceedings that he continues to suffer from recurring headaches caused by the multiple blows to the head. He also continues to have difficulty sleeping at night, and despite being promoted to a management position in UPS and no longer a member of the Teamsters bargaining unit, he says he still lives with constant fear -- even in his own home.
"The Carter family may never be the same after this brutal Teamsters attack," said Larson. "However, Foundation attorneys are determined to ensure that justice is served so that the Carters can move on with their lives."