Cason v. Glass Bottle Blowers Ass'n of U.S. and Canada

Decision Date11 May 1951
Citation231 P.2d 6,37 Cal.2d 134,21 A.L.R.2d 1387
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 28 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2098, 21 A.L.R.2d 1387, 19 Lab.Cas. P 66,334 CASON v. GLASS BOTTLE BLOWERS ASS'N OF UNITED STATES AND CANADA et al. L. A. 21143

V. P. Lucas, Los Angeles, for appellants.

J. Albert Woll, James A. Glenn and Herbert S. Thatcher, all of Washington, D. C., and Charles P. Scully, San Francisco, as amici curiae on behalf of appellants.

George D. Higgins, Los Angeles, for respondent.

GIBSON, Chief Justice.

Defendants a national labor union, an affiliated local, and certain union officials appeal from a judgment which awarded plaintiff damages as against the national union and granted a peremptory writ of mandate directing plaintiff's reinstatement to membership.

Plaintiff was president of a local union composed of employees of the Maywood Glass Company. Prior to May 6, 1945, plaintiff and a committee gave notice to the company that the local had voted not to work on Sundays, and the plant was not in operation on Sunday, May 6. The men reported for work on Monday, May 7, but they did not work until the following day because they found that their machines had been made ready and glass had been placed therein by nonunion workers. The company's general manager telegraphed the national union, complaining that plaintiff had refused to allow the local's upkeep men or operators to put the machines in order and had refused to permit the men to work on Sunday and Monday.

In voting not to work on Sundays, plaintiff and the local relied on a ruling made in 1944 by Maloney, the national president, that under the contract between the employers and the national union it was 'optional' with the locals whether the men would work on Sundays. So far as appears from the record, this construction of the contract remained in effect until May 11, 1945, at which time Maloney sent a telegram to the local union stating that the refusal to keep the plant in operation was a violation of the agreement with the employers and instructing the local to comply with the contract and keep the factory in operation seven days a week. The plant, however, was not in operation the next two Sundays, May 13 and 20, and on the latter date Maloney sent plaintiff the following telegram: 'I am informed by our national representatives that regardless of instructions contained in my telegram of May eleven the plant of the Maywood Glass Company is not in operation today Sunday stop I am holding you as president of Local one ninety responsible for this condition of affairs and by the authority vested in me as president do hereby suspend you from membership in our union the Glass Bottle Blowers Association of the United States and Canada.'

Four days later on May 24 Maloney sent plaintiff a second telegram reading: 'My recent telegram suspending you from membership in our organization was primarily because you refused as president of Local 190 to permit out upkeep men to come in the factory on Sunday May 6 for the purpose of placing machines in condition to work the following Monday; a violation of section one of our wage contract. Second, because the Maywood Glass Company opened their machines with foremen you stopped the plant for twenty-four hours by not allowing the operators to work in violation of section thirteen of our wage contract.'

As a result of his suspension, plaintiff was discharged by his employer. Prior to commencement of the present suit, plaintiff brought an action against the national union, its president, and a local representative to enjoin them from enforcing the suspension order and to compel them to reinstate him to membership, and also to recover damages for loss of wages. The trial court in that case found that the suspension was wrongful and awarded plaintiff damages for loss of wages from the date of suspension to December 17, 1945, the date of trial, but denied an injunction on the ground that it was improper for the court to order immediate restoration and thereby interfere with the procedure prescribed by the union for review of the disciplinary order. No appeal was taken, and the judgment became final.

During the pendency of the action above referred to, the president's order of suspension was approved by the executive board of the national union on March 2, 1946, and plaintiff then appealed to the national convention. In August, 1946, the matter was referred to the grievance committee of the convention, and plaintiff presented evidence and argued his case before it, but he was not allowed to confront or cross-examine his accusers or to rebut the evidence against him. The committee ruled against plaintiff, and its report was adopted and approved by the convention.

Thereafter, on December 17, 1947, plaintiff commenced the present action. The trial court found that he had been denied a fair hearing, and its judgment awarded him damages as against the union and granted a writ of mandate directing his reinstatement.

It is clear that mandate is available in this state against an unincorporated association. Von Arx v. San Francisco Gruetli Verein, 113 Cal. 377, 45 P. 685; Otto v. Journeyman Taylors', etc., Union, 75 Cal. 308, 17 P. 217; Smetherham v. Laundry Workers' Union, Local No. 75, 44 Cal.App.2d 131, 111 P.2d 948; see also Dotson v. International Alliance, etc., Employes, 34 Cal.2d 362, 210 P.2d 5; Elevator Operators, etc., Union v. Newman, 30 Cal.2d 799, 186 P.2d 1; Smith v. Kern County Medical Ass'n, 19 Cal.2d 263, 120 P.2d 874; Levy v. Magnolia Lodge, No. 29, I.O.O.F., 110 Cal. 297, 42 P. 887; Dingwall v. Amalgamated Ass'n, etc., 4 Cal.App. 565, 88 P. 597.

The trial court did not err in refusing to quash service of summons or to dismiss the writ proceedings as to the local union and three individual defendants. The motions were not made until the close of the trial, and it is obvious that defendants' general appearance was a waiver of service of summons and of any defects therein. Code Civ.Proc. §§ 406, 416; Harrington v. Superior Court, 194 Cal. 185, 228 P. 15. Moreover, the motion to dismiss the proceedings was based on the ground that the alternative writ was defective as to damages, and the defendants who made the motion could not have been injured because no damages were awarded against them.

The principal contentions made by defendants are as follows: (1) that the prior judgment is res judicata and bars any relief to plaintiff herein; (2) that the present action is barred by the statute of limitations; (3) that plaintiff received a fair hearing and was accorded every privilege to which he was entitled under the constitution and by-laws of the national union; and (4) that certain damages were improperly allowed.

The prior judgment held that plaintiff's suspension by the national president without notice and a hearing was wrongful and that plaintiff was entitled to damages resulting therefrom. The court, however, denied an injunction on the ground that reinstatement would constitute an interference with the functions of the union in considering plaintiff's case. The correctness of this judgment is not before us, no appeal having been taken therefrom, but we must determine its scope.

The judgment is clearly res judicata insofar as it held that plaintiff's original suspension by the national president was wrongful and that he was entitled to damages resulting therefrom. It is not res judicata, however, as to any matters which the court expressly refused to determine and which it directed should be litigated in another forum or in another action. Stark v. Coker, 20 Cal.2d 839, 843, 129 P.2d 390; Watson v. Poore, 18 Cal.2d 302, 309, 115 P.2d 478; Rest., Judgments, § 67. As we have seen, the trial court there found that a further hearing properly lay within the union and that it was not warranted in interfering with those proceedings, and it concluded that an injunction or immediate restoration to membership was not necessary at that time to the granting of adequate relief. It is apparent, therefore, that the court left open and refused to determine the question of plaintiff's right to ultimate reinstatement and that it contemplated that plaintiff would have a cause of action for damages or injunction in case of any wrongful denial of reinstatement. In view of the fact that the correctness of the prior judgment is not before us, we need not determine whether the trial court in that action was justified in limiting the issues to the propriety of the original suspension by the national president, and we likewise need not determine whether a union may properly provide for suspension of a member without a hearing, for a reasonable time, pending determination of the charges against him. As noted above, however, it is clear that the prior judgment in effect determined that a wrongful refusal by the union to reinstate plaintiff would constitute a new and independent wrong giving rise to a new cause of action. Accordingly, the rule that a party cannot split his cause of action and obtain piecemeal recovery is inapplicable.

Defendants contend that the action is barred by section 340 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which provides a one-year period for tort actions for injury to a person by the wrongful act of another, or, in any event, by section 339 of that Code, which provides a two-year period for actions on contracts not in writing.

Plaintiff's second amended complaint alleged that the suspension was wholly illegal and void as held in the prior action, that he had exhausted his remedies within the union, and that he had been denied reinstatement without being afforded a fair hearing or trial before the national convention. He prayed for a writ of mandate directing his reinstatement in the union and for damages. The trial court in effect found that the original action of the president was merely a suspension, and that the subsequent refusal to grant reinstatement...

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