Bergmann v. Board of Ed. of Normandy Consol. School Dist., 41450
|230 S.W.2d 714,360 Mo. 644
|08 May 1950
|No. 41450,No. 1,41450,1
|BERGMANN et al. v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF NORMANDY CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DIST. et al
|United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Victor B. Harris, John Raeburn Green, Milton I. Goldstein, all of St. Louis, for appellants.
Arthur V. Lashly, Jacob M. Lashly, Israel Treiman, Lashly, Lashly, Miller & Clifford, all of St. Louis 1, for respondents.
Action for actual and punitive damages and for injunctive and other equitable relief. The fourth amended petition contains six counts. The trial court dismissed counts II, IV and VI on defendants' motions to dismiss and, after an answer and reply were filed, the court entered judgment on counts I, III and V in favor of defendants on defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiffs have appealed.
The basic facts admitted by the pleadings are that on April 20, 1944 the defendant Board of Education of the Normandy Consolidated School District entered into a written contract with plaintiff Charles Koerner by which he was employed as a teacher in the Normandy Consolidated School District for the school year of 1944-1945; that, in 1944, plaintiff Leon Prost was by oral agreement employed by the said board to teach in said schools for the school year 1944-1945; that said Koerner and Prost remained in the employment of said board as teachers in said district until the end of the school year 1944-1945; that they were duly paid for their services pursuant to their respective contracts of employment; that on March 22, 1945 the said board by and through its superintendent Fred B. Miller addressed a letter to each of said plaintiffs notifying them that they would not be re-employed for the school year 1945-1946; that said letters were duly received by Koerner and Prost, respectively; and that they were not subsequently re-employed by said board.
In count I of the petition it is alleged that plaintiffs Walter Bergmann and Helene Villard are respectively the president and secretary of Local 779 of Normandy Federation of Teachers of the American Federation of Teachers, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor; that said Normandy Federation is a voluntary, unincorporated association of classroom teachers; that plaintiffs bring this suit for themselves and in behalf of said Local 779, as officers thereof, and in behalf of the other members of said Local; that Local 779 was organized in 1943 by classroom teachers of said Normandy District; that plaintiffs Charles Koerner and Leon Prost were classroom teachers in the Normandy School District and held membership and were active in Local 779; that the defendant Board of Education of the Normandy Consolidated School District is 'a public corporation existing under the laws of the State of Missouri'; and that the individual defendants include all members of said Board of Education in 1945 (four of whom are not now members), their successors in office and R. D. Shouse, the principal of the Normandy High School in 1945. One Fred B. Miller, the superintendent of the Normandy schools in 1945, was also named as a party defendant, but his death was, thereafter, suggested and plaintiffs dismissed as to him.
Plaintiffs charged that Miller and Shouse expressed to the teachers of the Normandy High School their hostility to the members of Local 779 and Miller carried on a campaign of vilification and abuse of teachers' organizations in general and of Local 779 in particular; that Miller stated that, if possible, he would discharge them from their positions, if they joined Local 779, or continued their affiliation with it; that his conduct was known to the then board members; and that the defendant members of the Board of Education and their successors in office did nothing to curb the violent and coercive conduct of defendant Miller against the members of Local 779.
It is further alleged that plaintiffs Koerner and Prost were well qualified as classroom teachers, but notwithstanding this fact their 'employment' as regular teachers in said Normandy District 'was terminated forthwith' by notice, as stated; that this 'action was solely because of the membership in and affiliation with * * * said Local 779'; that with a full knowledge of the said facts 'said Board of Education and said individual members thereof on or about May 25, 1945 refused to restore plaintiffs Koerner and Prost to their position as regular teachers in said Normandy District and thereby ratified and approved the opposition of said defendant Miller to Local 779'; and that said Board of Education and said individual members thereof by their conduct in thus refusing to do anything about said action and conduct of defendant Miller ('in discharging and dismissing plaintiffs Koerner and Prost') have 'coerced, restrained and interfered with the right of plaintiffs Charles Koerner and Leon Prost to belong to any lawful organization they choose to join; have deprived these plaintiffs of their property without due process of law; and said board and its agents have thereby violated Amendment 14 of the Constitution of the United States of America.'
The relief asked on the first count was 'for an order of this Court directing the defendants to restore plaintiffs Koerner and Prost to their former positions as teachers in said Normandy District to reimburse them for any financial loss they may have suffered as a result of defendants' aforesaid conduct, and for a further order directing the defendants and all persons employed by them in the administration of said Normandly School District from interfering with, threatening, vilifying, or otherwise abusing the plaintiffs, or any other member of Local 779, because of his affiliation with or membership in said Local, or because of his affiliation with or membership in any other organization of teachers, and for such further orders as to the Court may seem just and proper.'
In count II it is alleged that Koerner and Prost were notified March 22, 1945 that they 'would not be re-employed as regular teachers in said Normandy District' (Italics ours) and that 'this action was solely because of the membership in and affiliation * * * in said Local 779.' Certain paragraphs of count I are incorporated including the prayer for relief.
In count III the allegations of count I are incorporated by reference and it is further alleged that 'the conduct of the defendants herein as aforesaid in discharging and dismissing plaintiff Charles Koerner as a regular teacher in said Normandy District because of his membership in said Local 779, has held said plaintiff up to public ridicule and has damaged his reputation as a teacher.' (Italics ours.) Plaintiff Koerner asked $10,000 actual damages and alleged that 'because said conduct has been deliberate and done with malice, it constitutes malicious slander and entitled plaintiff Koerner to Ten Thousand ($10,000.00) Dollars additional as punitive damages.'
In count IV it is alleged 'the conduct of defendants as aforesaid in refusing and failing to re-employ plaintiff Koerner as a regular teacher in said Normandy District through no fault of his own is a reflection on his character and his reputation and severely damages him in the pursuit of his calling.' (Italics ours.) Plaintiff Koerner asked $10,000.00 actual damages and charged that 'because said conduct has been deliberate and with malice, it constitutes malicious slander and entitles plaintiff Koerner to Ten Thousand ($10,000.00) Dollars additional as punitive damages.'
In count V it is alleged that the 'conduct of the defendants herein as aforesaid in discharging and dismissing plaintiff Leon Prost as a regular teacher, in said Normandy District because of his membership in said Local 779, has held said plaintiff up to public ridicule and has damaged his reputation as a teacher.' (Italics ours.) The same relief is asked as in count IV.
Count VI is based upon 'the conduct of the defendants herein as aforesaid n refusing and failing to re-employ plaintiff Leon Prost as a regular teacher, in said Normandy District because of his membership in said Local 779, has held said plaintiff up to public ridicule and has damaged his reputation as a teacher.' (Italics ours.) Actual and punitive damages are asked as in count V. In concluding count VI it is alleged that neither Koerner nor Prost seek actual or punitive damages against the individual school board members elected and serving subsequent to March 22, 1945.
The members of the Board of Education, elected after 1945, moved (in two motions) to dismiss on the ground that the fourth amended petition did not state a claim on which relief could be granted against them; that no facts were pleaded to show their participation in, ratification of or responsibility for the acts alleged; that the exercise of discretion by defendants as public officers was not subject to control by injunction; and that no threatened legal wrong was alleged as a based of equitable jurisdiction. The motions were sustained.
Defendant Board of Education filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the petition failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted against it and alleged that it had no capacity to be sued. The motion was sustained. The other defendants moved to dismiss on the ground that 'the fourth amended petition herein fails to state a claim on which relief can be had.' The motion was overruled. These defendants further moved to dismiss counts II, IV and VI on the ground that each count failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The motion was sustained.
In their answer to counts I, III and V, the individual defendants constituting the Board of Education in 1945 and defendants Shouse and Miller admitted that Koerner and Prost had been employed, notified and not re-employed, all as stated supra. Other allegations were denied, or...
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