383 U.S. 715 (1966), 243, United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs

Docket Nº:No. 243
Citation:383 U.S. 715, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218
Party Name:United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs
Case Date:March 28, 1966
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 715

383 U.S. 715 (1966)

86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218

United Mine Workers of America

v.

Gibbs

No. 243

United States Supreme Court

March 28, 1966

Argued January 20, 1966

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

A coal company closed a mine in Tennessee and laid off miners belonging to one of petitioner's local unions. Thereafter, the company, through a subsidiary, attempted to open a new mine nearby with members of a rival union. Respondent was hired as mine superintendent and given a contract to truck coal to the nearest rail loading point. On August 15 and 16, 1960, armed members of petitioner's local forcibly prevented the opening of the mine, threatened respondent, and assaulted an organizer for the rival union. Petitioner's area representative was away at a union board meeting when he learned of the violence. He returned late on August 16 with instructions to establish a limited picket line, prevent further violence, and to see that neighboring mines were not struck. There was no further violence at the mine site; a picket line was maintained for nine months, and no further effort was made to open the mine. Respondent lost his job as superintendent, never performed his haulage contract, and allegedly lost other trucking contracts and mine leases because of a concerted union plan against him. Suing only the international union, he sought recovery under § 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act and the common law of Tennessee. Jurisdiction was premised on allegations of secondary boycotts under § 303, and the state law claim, for which jurisdiction was based on the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction, asserted an unlawful conspiracy and boycott to interfere with respondent's contracts of employment and haulage. The jury found that petitioner had violated both § 303 and state law, and respondent was awarded actual and punitive damages. On motion, the trial court set aside the damages award with respect to the haulage contract on the ground that damage was not proved. It also held that union pressure on respondent's employer to discharge him would constitute only a primary dispute with the employer, not cognizable under § 303. Interference with employment was cognizable as a state claim, and a remitted award was sustained thereon. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held:

1. The District Court properly entertained jurisdiction of the claim based on state law. Pp. 721-729.

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(a) The state law claim, based in part on violence and intimidation, was not preempted by § 303. P. 721.

(b) Pendent jurisdiction, in the sense of judicial power, exists whenever there is a substantial federal claim and the relationship between it and the asserted state claims permits the conclusion that the entire action before the court comprises one "case." P. 725.

(c) Pendent jurisdiction is a doctrine of discretion, justified by judicial economy, convenience and fairness to litigants. P. 726.

(d) The District Court did not exceed its discretion in exercising jurisdiction over the state law claim. Pp. 727-729.

2. State law remedies against violence and threats of violence arising in labor disputes have been sustained against the challenge of preemption by federal labor legislation, but the scope of such remedies is confined to the direct consequences of such conduct. Pp. 729-731.

3. Although petitioner concedes that violence which would justify application of such limited state tort law occurred during the first two days of the strike, it appeared that neither the pleadings, arguments of counsel, nor the instructions to the jury adequately defined the area within which damages could be awarded under state law, where the tort claimed, essentially a "conspiracy" to interfere with respondent's contractual relations, was not itself so limited. Pp. 732-735.

4. Since petitioner was not clearly proved to have participated in or authorized the two days' violence, nor to have ratified it or built its picketing campaign upon the fear of the violence engendered, the special proof requirements of § 6 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act were not satisfied, and petitioner cannot be held liable to respondent under state law. Pp. 735-742.

(a) While the Labor Management Relations Act expressly provides that, for purposes of that Act, including § 303, the union's responsibility for acts of its members and officers is to be measured by ordinary agency standards, rather than § 6's more stringent standard of "clear proof," it does not displace § 6 for other purposes, and § 6 plainly applies to federal court hearings of state tort claims arising out of labor disputes. Pp. 736-737.

(b) The "clear proof" language of § 6 is similar to "clear, unequivocal, and convincing proof," used elsewhere. Although, under this standard, the plaintiff in a civil suit does not have to satisfy the criminal standard of reasonable doubt, he is required to persuade by a substantial margin, and to come forward with more than a bare preponderance of the evidence. P. 737.

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(c) Respondent did not present clear proof that petitioner authorized or participated in the violence, or that it ratified the violence which had occurred, and, accordingly, cannot recover from petitioner. Pp. 738-742.

343 F.2d 609, reversed.

BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Paul Gibbs was awarded compensatory and punitive damages in this action against petitioner United Mine Workers of America (UMW) for alleged violations of § 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 61 Stat. 158, as amended,1 and of the common law of

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Tennessee. The case grew out of the rivalry between the United Mine Workers and the Southern Labor Union over representation of workers in the southern Appalachian coal fields. Tennessee Consolidated Coal Company, not a party here, laid off 100 miners of the UMW's Local 5881 when it closed one of its mines in southern Tennessee during the spring of 1960. Late that summer, Grundy Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated, hired respondent as mine superintendent to attempt to open a new mine on Consolidated's property at nearby Gray's Creek through use of members of the Southern Labor Union. As part of the arrangement, Grundy also gave respondent a contract to haul the mine's coal to the nearest railroad loading point.

On August 15 and 16, 1960, armed members of Local 5881 forcibly prevented the opening of the mine, threatening respondent and beating an organizer for the rival union.2 The members of the local believed Consolidated

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had promised them the jobs at the new mine; they insisted that, if anyone would do the work, they would. At this time, no representative of the IMW, their international union, was present. George Gilbert, the UMW's field representative for the area including Local 881, was away at Middlesboro, Kentucky, attending an Executive Board meeting when the members of the local discovered Grundy's plan;3 he did not return to the area until late in the day of August 16. There was uncontradicted testimony that he first learned of the violence while at the meeting, and returned with explicit instructions from his international union superiors to establish a limited picket line, to prevent any further violence, and to see to it that the strike did not spread to neighboring mines. There was no further violence at the mine site; a picket line was maintained there for nine months, and no further attempts were made to open the mine during that period.4

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Respondent lost his job as superintendent, and never entered into performance of his haulage contract. He testified that he soon began to lose other trucking contracts and mine leases he held in nearby areas. Claiming these effects to be the result of a concerted union plan against him, he sought recovery not against Local 5881 or its members, but only against petitioner, the international union. The suit was brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and jurisdiction was premised on allegations of secondary boycotts under [86 S.Ct. 1136] § 303. The state law claim, for which jurisdiction was based upon the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction, asserted

an unlawful conspiracy and an unlawful boycott aimed at him and [Grundy] to maliciously, wantonly and willfully interfere with his contract of employment and with his contract of haulage.5

The trial judge refused to submit to the jury the claims of pressure intended to cause mining firms other than Grundy to cease doing business with Gibbs; he found those claims unsupported by the evidence. The jury's verdict was that the UMW had violated both § 303 and state law. Gibbs was awarded $60,000 as damages under the employment contract and $14,500 under the haulage contract; he was also awarded $100,000 punitive damages. On motion, the trial court set aside the award of damages with respect to the haulage contract on the ground that damage was unproved. It also held that union pressure on Grundy to discharge respondent as supervisor would constitute only a primary dispute with Grundy, as respondent's employer, and hence was not cognizable as a claim under § 303. Interference with the

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employment relationship was cognizable as a state claim, however, and a remitted award was sustained on the state law claim.6 220 F.Supp. 871. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. 343 F.2d 609. We granted certiorari. 382 U.S. 809. We reverse.

I

A threshold question is whether the District Court properly entertained jurisdiction of the claim based on Tennessee law. There was no need to decide a like question in Teamsters Union v. Morton, 377 U.S....

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