MacDonald v. Carr

Decision Date03 January 1969
Citation243 N.E.2d 808,355 Mass. 120
Parties, 70 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2305 Alton S. MacDONALD et al. 1 v. John CARR et al. 2
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

Joseph T. Doyle, Boston, for plaintiffs.

Warren H. Pyle, Boston, for defendants.


KIRK, Associate Justice.

This bill in equity as originally filed on January 19, 1967, sought to enjoin the defendants and all other members of Local #2 of the IBTW from conducting or participasting in an election of officers and convention delegates of Local #2 for the year 1967. The plaintiffs are MacDonald, individually, who is a member of Local #2 of the IBTW and several other named persons who sue on their own behalf as officers and as members of the IBTW and as representatives of other members of the IBTW. The alleged grounds for seeking the preliminary injunction were, in summary, that Local #2 was chartered by and is affiliated with the IBTW, that certain individual defendants had for cause, after hearing, been indefinitely suspended from membership in the IBTW and, consequently, under the by-laws of Local #2 and the constitution of the IBTW, were ineligible for nomination to the several offices they sought in Local #2, and that MacDonald, a member in good standing in Local #2, had appealed to the IBTW which brought the bill to preserve and enforce MacDonald's rights.

On January 26, 1967, the application for a preliminary injunction was denied. On February 6, 1967, the defendants in their answer and in special pleas asked that the bill be dismissed on the grounds that the election had already been held on January 27, 1967, and therefore the Superior Court was without jurisdiction of the case under the provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, as amended.

On April 5, 1967, the plaintiffs filed and the judge allowed an amendment which converted the original bill into a bill for declaratory relief, seeking a declarations that the defendants were ineligible to hold the offices to which they had been elected and asking that they be enjoined from performing the duties of their respective offices. The defendants in their answer to the amended bill admitted, inter alia, that they had been elected and asked that the bill be dismissed. The judge to whom the case was assigned for hearing on the pleas and on the merits deferred decision on the pleas until after hearing the merits. Thereafter, he made a report of material facts, overruled the pleas, and entered a decree denying relief to the plaintiffs, and declaring that the defendants had been illegally suspended by the IBTW and were properly elected. The decree ordered that the defendants be restored to good standing by the IBTW and that the plaintiffs not interfere with the defendants in their offices. The plaintiffs appeal from the final decree. The defendants have not appealed.

The foregoing summary of the pleadings in sequence makes it unnecessary, as will subsequently appear, for us to deal with the merits of the controversy or to pass upon (with no intimation of error) the propriety of the comprehensive findings made by the judge. Our view of the case is controlled by the critical fact, established by the amended bill and the defendants' answer, that an election had been held on January 27, 1967. This fact presents the issue of lack of jurisdiction in the Superior Court to deal with the subject matter. It is our duty to resolve the issue of jurisdiction even though the defendants, having prevailed on the merits, have not appealed. Commissioner of Corporations & Taxation v. Chilton Club, 318 Mass. 285, 287, 61 N.E.2d 335. Both parties have to some extent argued the issue of jurisdiction to us.

It is our conclusion that, no injunction having been granted, leaving the defendants free to hold an election, the Superior Court ceased to have jurisdiction once it appeared that an election had been held. In our judgment, this result follows from the provisions of Title IV, Labor-Managment Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), §§ 402 and 403, 73 St. 519, 534, 29 U.S.C. §§ 482, 483 (1964), which are set out in the footnote. 3 'By force of the Supremacy Clause (art. VI, second paragraph) of the Federal Constitution any State law or action which conflicts with the Federal enactments is invalid.' John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Commissioner of Insurance, 349 Mass. 390, 398, 208 N.E.2d 516, 522, and cases cited.

Title IV of the LMRDA covers the conduct of union elections. Section 402 defines the procedure which is to be followed by a member of a labor organization who challenges an election. Section 403 concludes with the sentence, 'The remedy provided by this title for challenging an election already held shall be exclusive.

It would seem clear from the terms of Title IV that its aim was to prescribe a procedure which would channel all matters which might tend to undo labor union election results into the one agency of government which in the judgment of Congress was best equipped initially to settle them. Extrinsic evidence of the purpose of the legislation is found in a statement by one of its chief sponsors, Senator John F. Kennedy, who said, 'In the case of elections we preempt action for the Federal Government after the election is held. A suit may be filed in a State court prior to an election. The Federal Government takes preemption after an election. We have attempted to exercise Federal rights in those areas where the Federal Government can best do the job, the have attempted to provide for State preemption in the areas where the State can do it best. * * * Prior to the day of an election an individual can sue in a State. The day after an election the Secretary of Labor assumes jurisdiction.' 105 Cong.Rec. 6485 (1959). This view of the purpose of the legislation is confirmed by the fact that all attempts to preserve in the act remedies which theretofore were available under State law after the holding of elections were defeated. See Sen.Rep. No. 187, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., U.S.Code Cong. & Adm.News 1959, p. 101.

Finally, and we think with conclusive effect, we quote the observation made by the Supreme Court of the United States in the context of a case where the question was whether a union member could bring a suit in the Federal District Court under Title I of LMRDA as an alternative to a challenge under Title IV, § 402: 'Reliance on the discretion of the Secretary (of Labor) is in harmony with the general congressional policy to allow unions great latitude in resolving their own internal controversies, and, where that fails, to utilize the agencies of Government most familiar with union problems to aid in bringing about a settlement through discussion before resort to the courts. * * * (I)t is sufficient to say that we are satisfied that the Act itself shows clearly by its structure and language that the disputes here, basically relating as they do to eligibility of candidates for office, fall squarely within Title IV of the Act and are to be resolved by the administrative and judicial procedures set out in that Title.' Calhoon v. Harvey, 379 U.S. 134, 140--141, 85 S.Ct. 292, 296, 13 L.Ed.2d 190.

The parties to the present bill and the subject matter of the litigation bring the the case fully within the framework of Title IV of LMRDA. The plaintiff MacDonald who sues individually and as a member of Local #2 and who claims to be aggrieved by the election of allegedly noneligible members of Local #2 is clearly a person whose exclusively remedy is under § 402. Notwithstanding the framing of the bill as one to determine the eligibility of the individual defendants to hold office, the essence of the relief sought in the amended bill is to undo the election held by Local #2 on January 27, 1967. The eligibility of members to stand for election has been recognized as a basis for action by the Secretary of Labor under § 402. See Wirtz v. Local Union No. 125, Laborers' International Union, 389 U.S. 477, 478, 88 S.Ct. 639, 19 L.Ed.2d 716. Nothing in the bill points to any conduct by the defendants subsequent to their election which would warrant...

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7 cases
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • 27 Marzo 1972
    ...preempt remedies such as bills in equity or actions in the nature of quo warranto which had existed under state law. MacDonald v. Carr, 355 Mass. 120, 243 N.E. 2d 808 (1969). The Senate Report on the section of the bill which eventually became § 403 "Section 203 sic 29 U.S.C. § 483 of the b......
  • Brown v. American Arbitration Ass'n, 89 Civ. 0567 (PKL).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • 11 Julio 1989
    ...the exclusive post-election remedy, and thus to completely preempt remedies under state law. See Hodgson, supra; MacDonald v. Carr, 355 Mass. 120, 243 N.E.2d 808 (1969) (remedy provided by §§ 481-483 for challenging election already conducted is exclusive and state courts are deprived of ju......
  • Cummings v. Secretary of Environmental Affairs
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 20 Junio 1988
    ...question the basis on which parties are before us. Nature Church v. Assessors of Belchertown, 384 Mass. 811, 812 (1981). MacDonald v. Carr, 355 Mass. 120, 122 (1969). Commissioner of Corps. & Taxation v. Chilton Club, 318 Mass. 285, 287 (1945). The fact that the court did not raise the issu......
  • Godfrey v. Massachusetts Medical Service
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 11 Junio 1971
    ...whom the plaintiffs seek to represent.' Spear v. H. V. Greene Co., 246 Mass. 259, 266, 140 N.E. 795, 797. Compare MacDonald v. Carr, 355 Mass. 120, 126--127, 243 N.E.2d 808. The bill plainly meets the criterial outlined in the Spear case and, therefore, was properly brought as a class The d......
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