291 F.2d 402 (5th Cir. 1961), 18272, Enochs v. Williams Packing & Nav. Co.

Docket Nº:18272.
Citation:291 F.2d 402
Party Name:J. L. ENOCHS, District Director of Internal Revenue, Appellant, v. WILLIAMS PACKING & NAVIGATION CO., Inc., Appellee.
Case Date:June 14, 1961
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 402

291 F.2d 402 (5th Cir. 1961)

J. L. ENOCHS, District Director of Internal Revenue, Appellant,

v.

WILLIAMS PACKING & NAVIGATION CO., Inc., Appellee.

No. 18272.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

June 14, 1961

Page 403

Clarence J. Nickman, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.D., Charles K. Rice, Asst. Atty. Gen., Lee A. Jackson, Atty., Washington, D.C., Robert E. Hauberg, U.S. Atty., E. R. Holmes, Jr., Asst. U.S. Atty., Jackson, Miss., Meyer Rothwacks, George F. Lynch, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for appellant.

George E. Morse, S. E. Morse, William E. Logan, Gulfport, Miss., for appellee.

Before RIVES, CAMERON and JONES, Circuit Judges.

CAMERON, Circuit Judge.

This appeal presents two questions: whether fishermen carrying on their occupation of catching shrimp and oysters aboard trawlers, owned or leased by Williams Packing & Navigation Company, Inc., taxpayer-appellee, were its employees during the taxable periods involved within the meaning of §§ 1426 and 1607 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939 and §§ 3121 and 3306 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954; and whether taxpayer has shown the existence of such extraordinary and unusual circumstances as to warrant the granting of an injunction notwithstanding the prohibitions contained in § 7421(a) of the 1954 Code.

The district court held that each of the questions should be answered in favor of the taxpayer and, after full hearing, denied the Director's claim of $41,568.57, plus statutory interest, assessed against it as Federal Insurance Contributions and Federal Unemployment Taxes for taxable periods in the years 1953, 1954 and 1955. Its action was taken after an extended hearing, at which it considered the oral testimony of eighteen witnesses and the depositions of three,

Page 404

along with a large number of exhibits the originals of which are before us; and it entered detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law occupying some twenty pages in the record. Its written opinion is reported in 176 F.Supp. at pages 168 et seq.

The opinion was based upon the evidence heard by the court and the consideration of written briefs filed by the parties. It deals in detail with the contentions made by the appellant Director, and we are of the opinion that the findings of fact of the court below, brought forward in part in the opinion, are supported by substantial evidence in the record and that its conclusions of law are sound; and, on the basis of the court's findings and opinion and the brief comments which follow, we affirm the judgment of the court below.

The published opinion deals with all of the questions argued before us, 1 and the trial court's handling of the issues is so clear and complete that we feel that an extended opinion by us is not called for.

A careful reading of the Director's brief shows that the question underlying disposition of the whole case, that is, whether the fishermen were employees of the taxpayer corporation, was one essentially to be resolved from the facts as developed from the large number of witnesses the court heard. 2

A few excerpts from the court's published opinion will illustrate the accurate grasp which the court below had of the problems before it and the law under which they would be resolved:

'This case, like so many other cases, depends upon the individual facts as brought out here and not upon methods of other similar concerns engaged in like business. No uniform pattern covering the entire United States can be formulated except where the facts are identically the same. The judgment to be rendered in this case must be determined from the facts of this particular case, including all the exhibits and reasonable inferences therefrom and the conduct of the parties so far as it may have probative force upon the issues. The law must be determined from the Acts of Congress, the judicial interpretations by the courts and the Treasury Regulations * * *

'It has been the custom on the Coast of Mississippi since the seafood packing industry started that fishing vessels have operated upon a share or lay basis, but the details of this customary way varied between some of the packers and that is the reason that it is necessary to determine how the corporation in this particular case conducted its business. * * *

'These examples of the authorities simply illustrate the point that each case will be determined by the facts of the particular case and that no general pattern can be established or formulated. The record in the

Page 405

Gulf Coast Shrimpers and Oystermans Association case, supra (5 Cir., 236 F.2d 658), well demonstrates that fact and the fact that all packers on the Coast of Mississippi do not have identical patterns. * * *' 3

The careful analysis of the testimony and application of the cases the Government relied on before the Court below and now relies on before us demonstrate that it fully comprehended the issues of fact involved and the law applicable to them. The conclusion reached by the trial court from the testimony is entitled to the presumption of correctness with which the Federal Rules invest it.

The Director argues earnestly that the injunction was not properly granted in this case. His contention is thus summarized-- each of the two points relating to the action of the court below in deciding a fact issue:

'In ruling that the injunction was properly granted, it (the trial court) held, erroneously, (1) that the tax was 'illegal' because the employer-employee relationship did not exist between the taxpayer-corporation and the fishermen, and (2) that to allow the Director to proceed to levy would have brought financial disaster to the taxpayer. * * *

'As this Court said in United States v. Curd (5 Cir.), 257 F.2d 347, 350, the issuance of any such injunction must be tested in the light of the 'emphatic language' of the statute and the 'limited circumstances' in which, under equitable principles reflected in Miller v. (Standard) Nut Margarine Co., 284 U.S. 498 (52 S.Ct. 260, 76 L.Ed. 422), and cases following it, injunctive relief may be granted despite the statutory prohibition. * * *

'* * * Basically, the error of the court below lies in its failure to realize that the taxpayer-corporation and the DeJean partnership, though separate legal entities, were parts of an integrated operation and for all practical purposes, including financial, were merged.'

Appellant quotes from the Curd case (257 F.2d at pages 350-351) our estimate of the 'extraordinary circumstances' which would meet the stringent requirements necessary to support the conclusion that 'irretrievable injustice would be done were an injunction not issued.' The opinion of the court below shows that the judge carefully considered the authorities relied upon by the Government and others and concluded 'as a matter of law that it was appropriate to grant the temporary injunction,' and to make it permanent.

Dealing with the relationship between DeJean and the taxpayer, which the Director

Page 406

referred to as basic, and with what the Director characterized as error leading to the wrongful issuance of the injunction, the court below in its opinion said:

'It * * * is the theory, of the Government that the DeJean Packing Company is able to pay the tax and that because of the relationship of Elmer Williams to the corporation and to the partnership that the corporation had it within its power to require the DeJean Packing Company to pay the tax for it if the corporation be liable. However, as heretofore stated, this contention is not sustained by the evidence. * * *

Large portions of the evidence in the record and of the Director's brief deal with this relationship, which appellee charged to have encompassed fraudulent transactions and concealments in the dealings between the appellee corporation and the partnership in an effort to escape the exactions here involved. The witnesses, who detailed the circumstances from which an intelligent conclusion as to such a relationship would have to be drawn, were local people, doubtless well known to the judge. He heard them testify and he set forth fully in his findings and the opinion the nature and ingredients of that relationship as he found them to be. The inferences he drew and the conclusion he reached from the human testimony, the exhibits, and the evidence of customs given by the witnesses included the weighing and assaying of testimony involving subtleties and intangibles which could best be done by one having the 'feel' of the case which was possessed by the district judge. The Director's evidence was sharply contradicted, and the trial court doubtless considered that major reliance was placed by the Director on the testimony of one or more witnesses who were embittered by the events attending a strike against appellee. Its decision on this fact question is invested with the presumption of correctness, which an examination of the record does not tempt us to set aside as clearly erroneous.

The trial court's decision on this fact question, treated by appellant throughout as being basic, virtually disposes of the claim that the injunction was not properly granted. Appellant did argue briefly that appellee was able to pay the exaction and sue for refund, relying to a considerable extent on the testimony of strongly biased witnesses to sustain this contention. The trial court's findings 4 are against appellant and they are clearly supported by the evidence.

This Court has been diligent in protecting the public revenues against improvident injunctions. The last case coming to our attention is McDonald v. Phinney, 5 Cir., 1961, 285 F.2d 121. There we affirmed the action of a district judge in refusing to make permanent a temporary injunction which had been issued and in dismissing the complaint under § 7421. In that case the tax involved had been reduced to judgment in the...

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  • 402 F.2d 956 (5th Cir. 1968), 25674, United States v. W. M. Webb, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 6 de Novembro de 1968
    ...States, 223 F.Supp. 402 (S.D.Ala., 1963); Williams Packing and Navigation Company v. Enocks, 176 F.Supp. 168 (S.D.Miss., 1958), aff'd 291 F.2d 402 (5th Cir., 1961), reversed on jurisdictional grounds, 370 U.S. 1, 82 S.Ct. 1125, 8 L.Ed.2d 292; Williams Packing Company v. United States, Civil......
  • 380 F.2d 749 (5th Cir. 1967), 23654, United States v. Joe Grasso & Son, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 5 de Julho de 1967
    ...v. Crawford Packing Co., 330 F.2d 194 (5th Cir. 1964); Williams Packing & Nav. Co. v. Enochs, 176 F.Supp. 168 (S.D.Miss.1959), aff'd 291 F.2d 402 (5th Cir. 1961), rev'd on jurisdictional ground, 370 U.S. 1, 82 S.Ct. 1125 (1962). compare Cape Shore Fish Co., Inc. v. United States, 330 F.......
  • 295 F.2d 499 (5th Cir. 1961), 18645, Poretto v. Usry
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 20 de Outubro de 1961
    ...Nut Margarine Co., 1932, 284 U.S. 498, 52 S.Ct. 260, 76 L.Ed. 422. See also Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., 5 Cir., 1961, 291 F.2d 402; Lassoff v. Gray, 6 Cir., 1959, 266 F.2d 745. But this relief is usually restricted to a case in which it is charged that the threatened ex......
  • 296 F.2d 252 (5th Cir. 1961), 19078, McGowan v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 17 de Novembro de 1961
    ...U.S.C.A. § 7421; and see United States v. Curd, 5 Cir., 1958, 257 F.2d 347; Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., 5 Cir., 1961, 291 F.2d 402; Page 256 Poretto v. Usry, 5 Cir., 1961, 295 F.2d 499 (No. 18645, Oct. 20, 1961). See aso Miller v. Standard Nut Margarine Co., 1932, 284 U......
  • Free signup to view additional results
15 cases
  • 402 F.2d 956 (5th Cir. 1968), 25674, United States v. W. M. Webb, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 6 de Novembro de 1968
    ...States, 223 F.Supp. 402 (S.D.Ala., 1963); Williams Packing and Navigation Company v. Enocks, 176 F.Supp. 168 (S.D.Miss., 1958), aff'd 291 F.2d 402 (5th Cir., 1961), reversed on jurisdictional grounds, 370 U.S. 1, 82 S.Ct. 1125, 8 L.Ed.2d 292; Williams Packing Company v. United States, Civil......
  • 380 F.2d 749 (5th Cir. 1967), 23654, United States v. Joe Grasso & Son, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 5 de Julho de 1967
    ...v. Crawford Packing Co., 330 F.2d 194 (5th Cir. 1964); Williams Packing & Nav. Co. v. Enochs, 176 F.Supp. 168 (S.D.Miss.1959), aff'd 291 F.2d 402 (5th Cir. 1961), rev'd on jurisdictional ground, 370 U.S. 1, 82 S.Ct. 1125 (1962). compare Cape Shore Fish Co., Inc. v. United States, 330 F.......
  • 295 F.2d 499 (5th Cir. 1961), 18645, Poretto v. Usry
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 20 de Outubro de 1961
    ...Nut Margarine Co., 1932, 284 U.S. 498, 52 S.Ct. 260, 76 L.Ed. 422. See also Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., 5 Cir., 1961, 291 F.2d 402; Lassoff v. Gray, 6 Cir., 1959, 266 F.2d 745. But this relief is usually restricted to a case in which it is charged that the threatened ex......
  • 296 F.2d 252 (5th Cir. 1961), 19078, McGowan v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 17 de Novembro de 1961
    ...U.S.C.A. § 7421; and see United States v. Curd, 5 Cir., 1958, 257 F.2d 347; Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., 5 Cir., 1961, 291 F.2d 402; Page 256 Poretto v. Usry, 5 Cir., 1961, 295 F.2d 499 (No. 18645, Oct. 20, 1961). See aso Miller v. Standard Nut Margarine Co., 1932, 284 U......
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