Bottoms v. B & M Coal Corp.

Decision Date04 June 1980
Docket NumberNo. 1-379A63,1-379A63
Citation405 N.E.2d 82
Parties109 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 3091 Stephen BOTTOMS, United Mine Workers of America, and David Norrick, Individually, and as a Member of the United Mine Workers et al., Defendants- Appellants, v. B & M COAL CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellee.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

David O. Kelley, Boonville, for defendants-appellants.

Halbert W. Kunz, Kunz & Kunz, Indianapolis, for plaintiff-appellee.


This consolidated appeal 1 arises from violations of a restraining order issued during a period of intense, and occasionally violent, labor strife in Southern Indiana. In the first case the Spencer Circuit Court found appellants United Mine Workers and 191 individually named union members in civil contempt for their actions at the B & M Coal dock on January 7, 1978. The second case involves only one person, Stephen Bottoms, who was held in contempt for damaging two trucks which were leased to B & M Coal. Both cases are affirmed in part and reversed in part.


On December 6, 1977, the national labor contracts between the United Mine Workers of America and the coal mine operators expired. That same day the UMW called a nationwide strike and union members walked off their jobs. As a result, virtually all union coal mining operations in Indiana stopped. However, B & M Coal, a non-union coal loading facility on the Ohio River, remained open and operating. 2

During the first few days of the strike a number of B & M's drivers were harassed by union members. In response, B & M sought a temporary restraining order and injunction in the Spencer Circuit Court. On the same day the court issued the following Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the United Mine Workers of America and "John Doe, Numbers 1 through 100."

"IT IS ORDERED that the said defendants, their agents, servants, members, employees and attorneys and all persons in active concert and participation with them be and they hereby are restrained and enjoined, pending the determination of this action, from harassing, from preventing or blocking plaintiff, its employees, agents and contractors from operating to, from and onto plaintiff's coal loading facility approximately one-quarter mile North of Rockport, Indiana, and more fully described in the Affidavit In Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, and from preventing, harassing or blocking the travel of vehicles, including those driven by plaintiff's contractors, hauling coal from various coal mines to plaintiff's coal loading facility; provided that plaintiff first gives security in the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), for the payment of such costs and damages as may be incurred or suffered by any party who is found to have been wrongfully enjoined, such Bond to be approved by the Clerk of the Court, no later than December 8, 1977. The Court fixes December 15, 1977, at 9:30 A. M. for hearing on permanent Injunction."

The order was amended on December 12, 1977, to limit the permissible number of pickets to three per site.

"IT IS ORDERED that the said defendants, their agents, servants, members, employees and attorneys and all persons in active concert and participation with them be and they hereby are restrained and enjoined, pending the determination of this action, from picketing at any site within the scope of the restraining order issued by this Court on December 8, 1977, in numbers greater than three (3) and further that such pickets, if any, shall be conducted peaceably and shall be subject to the Temporary Restraining Order issued by this Court of December 8, 1977. The Court fixes December 15, 1977, at 9:30 o'clock A. M., for hearing on Permanent Injunction."

On December 14, 1977, the effectiveness of the order was extended until a hearing on a permanent injunction could be held.

Copies of the TRO and the amended TRO were served on the headquarters of District 11 of the United Mine Workers and David Kelley, attorney for District 11. The orders were read to striking miners at various coal mines throughout the area by the local sheriff and his deputies, and on at least one occasion copies of the order were passed out to strikers. A great deal of local and national publicity surrounded the strike, including the issuance of the restraining orders.

The facts upon which the contempt citation against the UMW and 191 individuals is based occurred on January 7, 1978. Paul Teegarden, executive officer and manager of B & M Coal, received information from an informant that the B & M facility would be "raided." In anticipation thereof he closed down operations and sent his employees home early. Teegarden and an attorney, Frank Hahn, remained on the premises in a trailer which served as an office.

At approximately 5:00 p. m. two "convoys" of cars and pick-up trucks converged at B & M's front gate from different directions. Frank Hahn estimated each column to be one and one-half mile long; approximately 200 vehicles and 400-500 men were involved.

It was dark and a fog was rolling in off the river when the convoys arrived. As a result, witnesses could not see well. However, as soon as the vehicles stopped they heard doors slamming, the sound of feet in gravel and shouts of "come on," and "let's go." Teegarden and Hahn then saw a group of men approximately eight abreast and five deep enter an area illuminated by a flood light. Many of the men were carrying clubs. The group quickly dispersed into smaller groups of three to four men and the sounds of breaking glass, explosions, gun shots and the light of fires soon followed.

Teegarden and Hahn remained in the trailer. Both testified the trailer's windows were broken and they could hear the exterior being struck with clubs. A flare was thrown into the trailer and Teegarden picked it up and threw it back out a broken window. Voices from outside the trailer were heard to say, "Teegarden is in there," and "kill the son-of-a-bitch." At about this time police sirens sounded and the men began returning to the vehicles parked on the road. The entire incident lasted approximately seven minutes.

After putting out a fire on the steps of the trailer, Teegarden and Hahn stepped out to survey the damage. Nearly every vehicle on the B & M premises was on fire and many had broken windows, flat tires and extensive body damage. Teegarden's car was on fire and Hahn's was upside down.

Throughout the raid Sheriff Rininger and a deputy were parked in an unmarked car 150 yards from the B & M gate. As the two columns of vehicles arrived, Rininger noticed most of the license plates had been covered with mud. As men began to leave their vehicles Sheriff Rininger radioed the State Police and requested assistance.

When the State Police arrived, they blocked off the road at both ends of the convoy. Forty to fifty cars were allowed to pass through the road block before a decision was made to arrest the remaining men. All 191 individual defendants were arrested at that time. They were taken to the courthouse where arrest cards were made out for each individual. All the men were released within a few hours.

On January 30, 1978, B & M Coal filed a Motion for Violation of Temporary Restraining Order. Each defendant was served with a copy of a Citation to Show Cause and Order to Appear. After a bench trial the Spencer Circuit Court held the UMW and 191 individuals in contempt for violations of its orders and ordered them to pay $173,873.09 to B & M coal for damages caused on January 7.

"IT IS, THEREFORE, CONSIDERED, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED by the Court that the defendants, named herein, are in contempt of this Court and that the said defendants, jointly and severally, pay the sum of $173,873.09 to the plaintiff, B & M Coal Corp., within ten (10) days of this date and the sum of $10,117.72 to plaintiff's attorneys within ten (10) days of this date. It is further ordered upon defendants' failure to pay said amounts in full within ten (10) days of this date, that each and every defendant named herein be committed by the Sheriff of Spencer County to the Spencer County Jail until said sums are paid in full."

The facts which give rise to the holding of Stephen Bottoms in contempt of court for violating the restraining order are as follows. On March 20, 1978, Lee Steele and Rick McDonald were each driving a coal truck on State Road 74 approaching the town of Arthur Junction, Indiana. Their trucks were leased to B & M Coal Company. As they passed the Arthur Junction fire station they encountered a group of about 50 people. A rock was thrown by a man later identified by Steele as Stephen Bottoms. The rock broke Steele's windshield and he stopped his truck on the side of the road. Bottoms then came up to the cab of Steele's truck, shouted at him and struck him on the arm with a set of "numbchucks."

Rick McDonald had a similar experience. He testified he stopped his truck behind Steele's; as he did so, a man he later identified as Stephen Bottoms threw a baseball bat at his windshield, breaking it. Bottoms then retrieved the bat and proceeded to strike the driver's side mirror but succeeded only in bending the mirror bracket.

Neither man had seen Stephen Bottoms before but both men picked Bottoms' picture from photographs shown them by the local Sheriff's Department. They also identified Bottoms in court.

On March 29, 1978, B & M Coal filed a Motion to Cite Stephen E. Bottoms for Violation of Temporary Restraining Order and Bottoms was subsequently served with a show cause citation and ordered to appear. Following trial, Bottoms was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay $283.52 to B & M Coal for damage to the trucks.

"IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED by the Court that the defendant, Stephen E. Bottoms is guilty of Contempt of this Court and that the said Stephen E. Bottoms pay the sum of Two Hundred Eighty-Three Dollars and Fifty-Two Cents ($283.52) to the plaintiff, B & M Coal...

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