TEXAS & PAC. R. CO. v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen

Decision Date17 April 1945
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 1308.
Citation60 F. Supp. 263
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana


J. T. Suggs and M. E. Clinton, both of Dallas, Tex., Esmond Phelps, of New Orleans, La., Fred G. Hudson, Jr., of Monroe, La., H. Payne Breazeale, of Baton Rouge, La., Thomas T. Railey, of St. Louis, Mo., and Frank H. Peterman, of Alexandria, La., for plaintiffs.

Kemble K. Kennedy, of Baton Rouge, La., for defendants, Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and Rapides Lodge No. 856 of Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

Fred G. Benton, of Baton Rouge, La., for individual defendants, who are employees of Texas & Pacific Ry. Co.

PORTERIE, District Judge.

A declaratory judgment under Section 274d of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. § 400, 48 Stat. 955, is sought by this action of the complainants, the Texas and Pacific Railway Company and Guy A. Thompson, as Trustee of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Debtor, and not individually, against the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Rapides Lodge No. 856 of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, and twenty-nine individuals, eleven of whom are not members of Rapides Lodge No. 856 or any other railroad labor organization.

The plaintiffs pray for a judgment "declaring that neither of plaintiffs is required by law to negotiate or sign an agreement or agreements with the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen amending or interpreting the contract of June 2, 1927; or, in the alternative, that neither of plaintiffs by signing said agreement or agreements thereby becomes liable to the individual defendants herein, or either of them, for the damages which they or any of them may sustain by reason of the execution of said agreement or agreements, amending or interpreting said contract of June 2, 1927; and that plaintiffs have such other, further, different and general relief, including costs, to which they may be entitled."

The complainants rely upon diversity of citizenship and the necessary amount, and an alleged federal question arising under the Railway Labor Act of 1934, 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., as amended, as a double basis for jurisdiction.

During the year 1926, the two railways consolidated their facilities covering the manning of yard and hostler service in the Alexandria Terminal, Alexandria, Louisiana, and made all of these facilities one common interchangeable yard.

The interests of the two sets of employees for the two carriers, represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, and the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, became involved. A controvery followed. The respective committees of the three labor organizations having jurisdiction over the terminal facilities, being unable to agree as to the disposition of the issues, invoked the assistance of national officers. An agreement was reached in St. Louis on June 2, 1927, and made effective June 20, 1927, jointly executed by a duly authorized representative of each organization, whereby the work in the terminal was apportioned between the employees of the two railroads, based upon the ratio of business done at that time by the two carriers at the joint terminal.

The schedule of that contract covering the calling of crews to perform the terminal work allocated the maximum number of crews involved, thirty-two, between the trainmen of the respective railroads upon a fixed basis, which, roughly, approximated 55% Missouri Pacific trainmen and 45% Texas Pacific trainmen.

In the intervening years the Missouri Pacific terminal trainmen at the Alexandria terminal became dissatisfied with that allocation; contending that because of the change in the relative proportion of terminal business produced by those railroads and their number of terminal trainmen employed a greater percentage of the terminal work should be allocated to the Missouri Pacific trainmen; this contention was disputed by the Texas & Pacific men.

After controversy and action within the Trainmen's Union organization, the Trainmen's Union General Chairman for both railroads and the Vice-President of the National Trainmen's Brotherhood, on June 26, 1944, formally requested the personnel officers of both railroads to change the assignment schedule to a 65% Missouri Pacific and 35% Texas & Pacific basis. Before any action resulted, on June 5, 1944 certain Texas & Pacific employees brought suit in the state court at Baton Rouge, seeking to enjoin their own national Brotherhood and both railroads from changing the 1927 agreement in accordance with the findings and request of that national Brotherhood. A temporary restraining order was issued and, after hearing, was recalled and vacated for failure to properly cite and serve the National Trainmen's Brotherhood, held to be a necessary party; pretermitting numerous other exceptions filed. Consequently, the action was dismissed by the district court.

Then, "suspensive and devolutive appeals" were taken to the Louisiana Supreme Court. A motion by defendants to dismiss that appeal was denied, but the appeal was sustained only as a devolutive appeal — which, in effect, sustained the motion to dismiss as to the suspensive appeal.

Meanwhile, on June 26, 1944, the attorney of record for the trainmen members of the Texas & Pacific Railway, plaintiffs in the state court action, served formal written notice upon the railroads, reasserting their rights under the 1927 contract, and gave formal notice of their intention to invoke all legal remedies available to compel by specific performance adherence to the contract by the railroads and, in default, their intention to sue for damages if any changes were made, by negotiation with the national Brotherhood.

At this juncture the present suit seeking a declaratory judgment was filed.

The individual defendants have filed three motions to dismiss the bill of complaint; first, for failure to allege facts sustaining the venue of the court; second, for failure to make necessary parties; third, for failure to state a claim or cause of action. The motion to dismiss for failure to allege facts sustaining the venue of the court was abandoned at the time of the oral argument upon motion of the attorney for these defendants. At oral argument and by subsequent brief the other two motions were declared to apply only to the alternative prayer of the railroads.

This brings us to a consideration of the two remaining qualified motions to dismiss: (a) for failure to make necessary parties, and (b) for failure to state a claim or cause of action.

(a) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Make Necessary Parties.

For the sake of brevity we will refer hereafter to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers as engineers, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen as firemen, and the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen as trainmen. The motion to dismiss for failure to make necessary parties is based on two grounds: first, that the contract of June 2, 1927, includes the engineers and the firemen, hence those Brotherhoods should be joined as parties in the present suit; and second, that the plaintiffs acknowledge the engineers and firemen to be necessary parties to this suit by reason of allegations made in Section 2, Paragraph VIII of the bill of complaint.

The plaintiffs by motion in open court amended their bill of complaint so as to delete Section 2, Paragraph VIII thereof.

This deletion does away with whatever estoppel feature these allegations had, but cannot remove from consideration in this case the fact that the contract of June 2, 1927, was had by and between the two carriers on the one hand and the engineers, the firemen and the trainmen on the other hand, and that the court has before it at this time only the trainmen. We had been much impressed in the early consideration of these motions that the action should be dismissed, since the trainmen alone were before the court and not the engineers and the firemen, who were participants in the original contract.

However, the record shows that a request for a change in the apportionment of work was denied by decision of the three executives of the three national Brotherhoods. An appeal was perfected only to the Board of Appeals of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. On October 26, 1943, the Board of Appeals reversed the decision of the chief executives, giving reasons.1 All three Brotherhoods were originally parties; the voluntary leaving of two does not destroy the life in court of the third.

Again, we should not dismiss because the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen were temporarily restrained, etc., by an order of the Nineteenth Judicial District Court, State of Louisiana, in Bujol et al. v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company et al., No. 21579. As outlined hereinabove, this action brought about the formal notice to the carriers, placing them in a dilemma of damages.

Furthermore, the two Brotherhoods (Engineers and Firemen) are organized and exist under the laws of the State of Ohio and are domiciled in the city of Cleveland. Under the circumstances, the motion to dismiss filed by the individual defendants because these Brotherhoods are not made parties to the suit is disposed of by Rule 19(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 723c, reading in part as follows: "* * * The court in its discretion may proceed in the action without making such persons parties, if its jurisdiction over them as to either service of process or venue can be acquired only by their consent or voluntary appearance * * *." (Emphasis ours.)

The fact that the engineers and the firemen might have an interest in the controversy does not mean that the court cannot proceed with the present litigation. Wyoga Gas & Oil Corporation v. Schrack, D.C. Pa.1939, 27 F.Supp. 35, affirmed on reargument, D.C.1939, 29 F.Supp. 582.

We rule that the engineers and firemen are not indispensable p...

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