Lenroot v. Hazlehurst Mercantile Co., No. 620.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtMIZE
Citation59 F. Supp. 595
Decision Date06 January 1945
Docket NumberNo. 620.
PartiesLENROOT, Chief of Children's Bureau, United States Department of Labor, v. HAZLEHURST MERCANTILE CO. et al.

59 F. Supp. 595

LENROOT, Chief of Children's Bureau, United States Department of Labor,
v.
HAZLEHURST MERCANTILE CO. et al.

No. 620.

District Court, S. D. Mississippi, Jackson Division.

January 6, 1945.


59 F. Supp. 596

Amzy Steed and Harry Campbell, Jr., both of Birmingham, Ala., for plaintiff.

Henley & Woodliff, of Hazlehurst, Miss., for defendants.

MIZE, District Judge.

This cause having come on for trial on August 23, 1944, and the Court having considered the testimony adduced at the trial and the briefs filed by the parties, hereby makes and enters its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, as follows:

Findings of Fact

I. The plaintiff, Katharine F. Lenroot, is the Chief of the Children's Bureau, United States Department of Labor. The defendants, Hazlehurst Mercantile Company and Alford & Miller Company, are corporations organized and existing under the laws of the State of Mississippi, having their principal offices and places of business in Hazlehurst, Copiah County, Mississippi, within the jurisdiction of this Court.

II. Defendants, as copartners, doing business under the name and style of Hazlehurst Mercantile Company or Roper's Shed, were engaged during the vegetable packing and shipping seasons of 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944 in the operation of a vegetable packing shed in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, handling principally cabbage and tomatoes. The cabbage shipping season in each of these years extended through the month of May, while the tomato shipping season extended through the month of June.

The shed is located on the west side of and adjacent to the tracks of the Illinois Central Railroad, and a spur track of this railroad runs alongside of the shed. Occupied entirely by the defendants during the vegetable packing and shipping season, the shed is a one-story frame structure approximately 360 feet long and 80 feet wide.

III. Most of the vegetables handled by defendants were obtained from farms in the general vicinity of the packing shed. The defendants own and operate farms, devoting some acreage to the cultivation of cabbage and tomatoes, which are later packed in their shed. However, the total amount of tomatoes cultivated on farms operated by defendants in their corporate capacities, which were later packed and shipped by them, constituted only about 5% of the approximately 75 carloads of tomatoes shipped during each of the 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944 seasons, a carload containing approximately 675 lugs of tomatoes, weighing 30 lbs. each. Likewise, the total amount of cabbage cultivated on farms operated by defendants in their corporate capacities, which was later packed and shipped by them, constituted only about 5% of the approximately 150 carloads of cabbage shipped by them during each of said seasons. When cabbage is shipped in crates, a carload contains approximately 350 crates, weighing 85 lbs. each; and, when the cabbage is shipped in sacks, the carload contains approximately 500 sacks, weighing 50 lbs. each. The vegetables drawn from defendants' farms were commingled with those obtained from other sources upon their delivery to defendants' establishment.

Some 45% of the vegetables packed and shipped by defendants are grown on farms operated (1) by stockholders of the defendant corporations, (2) by subsidiary corporations, and (3) by growers whose operations are financed by the defendants, their stockholders and subsidiaries. These tomatoes and cabbage, too, were commingled by defendants with the tomatoes and cabbage procured from other sources.

In addition, approximately 10% of the cabbage and 33 1/3 % of the tomatoes shipped by them were graded, sorted and packed by farmers prior to sale and delivery to the defendants for shipment. These vegetables also were commingled by defendants with cabbage and tomatoes obtained from other sources and, notwithstanding the fact that the grading and packing operations had

59 F. Supp. 597
been performed by the farmers, defendants' employees performed certain operations on such vegetables after their receipt in the packing shed, such as labelling the lugs, loading the lugs in the freight cars and "stripping" the lugs in the freight cars

The remaining amount of vegetables (approximately 40% of the total cabbage pack and about 17% of the total tomato pack) shipped by the defendants consisted of cabbage and tomatoes which were obtained from farms other than those specified above and which were sorted, graded, prepared and packed in defendants' establishment.

IV. Briefly, after the tomatoes are unloaded at the shed, employees of the defendants handle them according to the following operations:

As the tomatoes are brought to the shed, they are unloaded from the farmers' containers called "field carriers" into "field carriers" of the defendants. Employees, known as graders, then inspect, grade and sort the tomatoes out of defendants' field carriers into the packers' bins. In this process the graders inspect the tomatoes for bruises, cuts, disfigurations, wormholes, blisters and other imperfections or defects. Defective tomatoes are removed from the bin and discarded. Simultaneously, the grader examines the nondefective tomatoes to determine the particular grade, according to size, that the tomatoes should be placed in, sorting out and separating the various grades and placing the tomatoes into bins especially provided for the particular grade. Tomatoes are graded, as to size, into three standard grades, commonly known, sold and purchased as "small", "small to medium" and "medium".

The wooden crates or lugs, the containers in which the tomatoes are packed, are constructed by other employees in the shed. The defendants purchase shooks of wooden material for the sides and bottoms of the containers and "unitized" wooden pieces for the ends of the containers which are in uniform and specified sizes and ready to be assembled. Defendants' employees make the wooden crates by fitting these pieces together around forms and then nailing them together. Employees, called "labelers" or "slop boys", then paste labels on the crates bearing one of the defendants' brand names. This operation of pasting on the labels is sometimes performed after the lugs have been constructed and before the tomatoes have been packed therein; at other times after the tomatoes have been packed in the lugs and before the lugs have been loaded in the freight cars; and still at other times after the lugs have been placed in the freight cars. When the crates are completed, they are stacked at various places in the shed by employees, commonly called stackers. As the crates are needed by those employees engaged in packing the tomatoes, they are stacked on a shelf in front of the packers.

The packers stand in front of the bins, in each of which a uniform grade of tomatoes, graded according to size, either "small" or "small to medium" or "medium", has already been assembled. As they pack the tomatoes, the packers also grade them according to quality into three standard grades, commonly known, sold and purchased as U.S. 1, U.S. 2, and "commercial." The packer thus receives a crate from the shelf in front of him, takes the tomatoes by hand from the bins (selecting only tomatoes of the same grade,...

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1 practice notes
  • McComb v. Puerto Rico Tobacco Marketing Co-op. Ass'n, No. 5106.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • December 7, 1948
    ...D.C.W.D.Ky., 1943, 50 F.Supp. 900; Bowie v. Gonzalez, 1 Cir., 117 F.2d 11, 18; Lenroot v. Hazlehurst Mercantile Co., D.C.S.D.Miss., 59 F.Supp. 595; Walling v. Lincoln Loose Leaf Warehouse, D.C.E.D.Tenn., 59 F.Supp. 601; McComb v. Farmers Reservoir & Irr. Co., 10 Cir., 167 F.2d This has been......
1 cases
  • McComb v. Puerto Rico Tobacco Marketing Co-op. Ass'n, No. 5106.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • December 7, 1948
    ...D.C.W.D.Ky., 1943, 50 F.Supp. 900; Bowie v. Gonzalez, 1 Cir., 117 F.2d 11, 18; Lenroot v. Hazlehurst Mercantile Co., D.C.S.D.Miss., 59 F.Supp. 595; Walling v. Lincoln Loose Leaf Warehouse, D.C.E.D.Tenn., 59 F.Supp. 601; McComb v. Farmers Reservoir & Irr. Co., 10 Cir., 167 F.2d This has been......

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