Great Coastal Exp., Inc. v. International Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America

Decision Date21 January 1975
Docket Number73--2448,Nos. 73--2393,s. 73--2393
Citation511 F.2d 839
Parties88 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2467, 75 Lab.Cas. P 10,609 GREAT COASTAL EXPRESS, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee-Cross Appellant, v. INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN & HELPERS OFAMERICA, an unincorporated association, Defendant-Appellant-Cross Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

Sidney Dickstein, Washington, D.C. (George Kaufmann, Anthony F. Troy, Ira R. Mitzner and Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin, Washington, D.C., on brief), for defendant-appellant in No. 73--2393 and for plaintiff-appellee in No. 73--2448.

J. W. Alexander, Jr., Charlotte, N.C. (James M. Minor, Jr., Richmond, Va., and John O. Pollard, Charlotte, N.C., on brief), for plaintiff-appellee in No. 73--2393 and for defendant-appellant in No. 73--2448.

Before RUSSELL, FIELD and WIDENER, Circuit Judges.

WIDENER, Circuit Judge:

This suit, originally filed in a Virginia state court, was removed to federal district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) as a claim arising under §§ 301 and 303 and of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 185 and 187.

This appeal results from two jury trials in which the appellant-defendant union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, etc. (IBT), was found to have been responsible for damages resulting from illegal secondary boycotts conducted by three of its local unions in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4).

The employer, Great Coastal Express, Inc. (the company), contended throughout both trials that all of its damages, alleged to be $942,065, resulted from the illegal acts of IBT because the company had not suffered damage until IBT supplemented its legal tactics with illegal ones. The first jury returned a general verdict against IBT for $1,300,000, which the district court set aside on IVT's motion for judgment non obstante veredicto, or in the alternative for a new trial, as being excessive. See 350 F.Supp. 1377 (E.D.Va.1972). A new trial was ordered to reconsider the issue of damages, and the verdict reached at the second trial was for $806,093, upon which the district court entered judgment.

IBT contends on appeal that the court wrongfully allowed the issue of whether or not the local unions, and their officers and members, were the agents of IBT to go to the jury in the first trial; that the company should not recover any damages because it failed to particularize its losses to those caused by illegal activity as distinguished from losses caused by legal union activity; that the court erred in restricting the second trial to damages; and that the instructions to the second jury were erroneous. For reasons which follow, we affirm the judgment of the district court. Because of our resolution of the case, it will not be necessary to reach the issue of the violent conduct of the unions raised on cross appeal by the company.

The company is an interstate truck common carrier, based in Richmond, whose business consists primarily of transporting general commodity freight from twenty-six Virginia counties into New Jersey and parts of New York, Connecticut and Pannsylvania. The company had been a party to the National Master Freight Agreement with IBT from 1964 until expiration of the 1967 contract on March 31, 1970. The parties reached an impasse during negotiations for a new contract, and the company refused to become a party to the new National Master Freight Agreement. Richmond Local 592 applied for strike benefits from IBT on August 6, 1970 and went on strike August 9, 1970. IBT approved payment on the strike benefits on August 10, 1970, and, on August 13, Local 107 in Philadelphia and Local 641 in Jersey City, New Jersey also went on strike against the company. Retroactive strike benefit payments were also approved by IBT for the latter two locals. All three locals were striking over the company's refusal to become a party to the National Master Freight Agreement, and no contention is made that the cause for the strike was not quite a legal reason.

The strike initially had little or no effect on the company. It was able to continue all its operations by using office employees, salesmen, supervisors, and newly-hired replacement drivers. Employees not on strike willingly crossed union picket lines at Richmond, and the company began making direct pickups and deliveries in its northern territories so that the picketed Jersey City terminal was practically unused. At the end of the seven or eight month continuance of the strike, however, the company's freight-hauling business had been effectively shut off. The argument between the parties is over the legality of a roving picket operation, and the extent to which illegal secondary boycott activities damaged the company.

The company's attack in the first trial was two-pronged, in that it sought damages for alleged secondary boycott activities in violation of LMRA § 303, 29 U.S.C. § 187, and also damages for various alleged acts of violence and sabotage. At the close of the company's evidence, the court granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict as to the violence aspect of the case, holding that the burden of proof for finding IBT liable for acts of violence committed is the higher standard of proof of clear and convincing evidence, rather than a preponderance, and that the company had failed to meet this higher standard. See U.M.W. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 735, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966), construing Norris-LaGuardia Act, § 6, 29 U.S.C. § 106.

We should say here, and we emphasize, that the union does not contest the fact that there was evidence from which a jury could find an illegal secondary boycott. Indeed, the matter is admitted to be clearly a jury question. And the matter having been decided in favor of the plaintiff under proper instructions, it is, in all events, removed from our consideration. Lavender v. Kurn, 327 U.S. 645, 66 S.Ct. 740, 90 L.Ed. 916 (1946). The only question before us as to that finding is whether or not a partial new trial was proper. 1

The company offered evidence as to illegal secondary activities by representatives of customers it had serviced during the strike, and drivers it had hired to replace the strikers, as well as from its own executives and other employees and the president of the Richmond local and an international director of the union.

The principal witness concerning the amount of the company's damages was a Certified Public Accountant, Lepp, who testified that he had worked with Great Coastal for several years and had examined the books of Great Coastal for periods before, during and after the strike. Lepp stated that he noted a disruption in the company's general pattern of receipts and profits after the strike started. On the basis of the company's business growth pattern and operating ratio over a period of time prior to the strike, Lepp projected a figure of anticipated profit during the seven months of the strike as being $322,438. He added to this the actual loss incurred by the company during the strike, $274,895, to reach a total damage figure of $597,333 during the strike. Lepp then computed a projected profit figure of $495,715 for the period from the end of the strike to the end of 1971, subtracted $150,983 actual profit which the company showed in this post-strike period, and added the additional damage figure of $344,732 to $597,333 in arriving at the total damage estimate of $942,065.

The key witness for IBT with respect to union activity after the strike began was William A. Hodson, president of the Richmond Local No. 592. Hodson testified that he generally was in charge of the strike, and was personally involved in the picketing on occasion. The union began utilizing roving, or ambulatory, pickets to follow company trucks to customer business locations, and Hodson testified that these pickets were assigned on a weekly basis to go throughout the company's territory. All of the roving pickets' expenses were paid, in addition to strike benefit payments, by the union; Hodson testified that over $49,000 in strike benefits were paid, and that Local 592 had also received $10,000 from IBT, $10,000 from the Eastern Conference of IBT, and $2,500 from various Joint Councils of IBT, apparently in addition to authorized strike benefits, to further assist in financing the strike. 2 Hodson sent a letter to all of the company's customers, advising them that Local 592 was on strike against Great Coastal because of its unfair labor practices, expressing a desire to lawfully picket on their premises when Great Coastal trucks were present, and requesting their cooperation during the strike. He further testified that a purpose of the roving pickets was to receive assistance or cooperation from the company's customers, and that he had complained to IBT about sister Teamster locals, not employed by the company, who refused to respect their picket lines. At the first trial he admitted that a purpose of the roving pickets was to induce employees of Great Coastal customers not to unload Great Coastal freight, and at the second trial he admitted such was their primary purpose. Taken as a whole, Hodson's testimony left little doubt that Local 592 tried to get all IBT local unions, whether they represented Great Coastal employees at other locations or not, to assist in this strike in refusing to unload Great Coastal freight, and that nonteamster unions had also been asked to help.

Evidence, in addition to Hodson's testimony, indicated that Local 592 kept close contact during the strike with both the Eastern Conference of IBT and IBT headquarters itself, and that almost all of Local 592's requests for assistance, financial or otherwise, were complied with. IBT was advised on numerous occasions of the existence of the roving pickets. On one occasion, Eastern Conference director and IBT director and vice president Trerotola wrote to over 100 other teamster locals...

To continue reading

Request your trial
53 cases
  • Korotki v. Goughan
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • September 28, 1984
    ... ... violation of the rights it designates." Great American Federal Savings and Loan Association v ... Mason's Stores, Inc., 368 F.Supp. 1025, 1028 (E.D.Va.1973) (Merhige, ...         In Great Coastal Express, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of msters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers of America, 511 F.2d ... ...
  • Filkins v. McAllister Bros., Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • January 22, 1988
    ... ... in a contract between the Seafarers International Union, plus attorneys fees and costs. Tried to ... 156, 89 S.Ct. 331, 21 L.Ed.2d 309 (1968); Great Coastal Express, Inc. v. International Bhd. of ... ...
  • Vandergrift v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • March 30, 1978
    ...Co. v. Paterson Parchment Paper Co., 282 U.S. 555, 563, 51 S.Ct. 248, 250, 75 L.Ed. 544 (1931); Great Coastal Express v. Int. Brotherhood of Teamsters, etc., 511 F.2d 839, 845 (4th Cir. 1975). Guided by the facts and circumstances of the case and the evidence presented, there is awarded as ......
  • Pilot Freight Carriers v. INTERN. BROTH., ETC.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of North Carolina
    • July 23, 1980
    ...control of local unions that the locals, in essence, were not autonomous but were subdivisions of IBT." Great Coastal Express, Inc. v. IBT, 511 F.2d 839, 844 (4th Cir. 1975). The Court need not detail the various provisions of the IBT constitution which prove the point. The Fourth Circuit, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT