Meadowmoor Dairies, Inc. v. Milk Wagon Drivers' Union of Chicago, No. 753, 24890.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation371 Ill. 377,21 N.E.2d 308
Docket NumberNo. 24890.,24890.
Decision Date07 June 1939

371 Ill. 377
21 N.E.2d 308


No. 24890.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

April 14, 1939.
Rehearing Denied June 7, 1939.

Appeal from Superior Court, Cook County; James F. Fardy, judge.

Suit by the Meadowmoor Dairies, Incorporated, against the Milk Wagon Drivers' Union of Chicago, No. 753, and others, to enjoin the defendants from interfering, or attempting to interfere, with the sale of the plaintiff's products by picketing stores where its products were sold and from using violence against the stores and doing other unlawful acts in furtherance of an alleged conspiracy to injury the plaintiff's business. From an adverse decree, the plaintiff appeals and the defendants cross-appeal.

Reversed and cause remanded, with directions.

FARTHING, J., dissenting.

[21 N.E.2d 310]

Deneen & Massena, William A. Parrillo, Joseph R. Roach, and Edward M. Keating, all of Chicago (Charles S. Deneen and Donald N. Schaffer, both of Chicago, of counsel), for appellant.

David A. Riskind and Abraham W. Brussell, both of Chicago (Walter F. Dodd, of Chicago, of counsel), for appellees.

GUNN, Justice.

Appellant, the Meadowmoor Dairies, Inc., filed a bill of complaint in the superior court of Cook county on February 2, 1935, to restrain and enjoin the Milk Wagon Drivers' Union of Chicago, Local 753, and various persons connected with the union as president, secretary, trustee and attorney, and the members thereof, from interfering or attempting to interfere with the sale of the appellant's products by picketing stores where its milk was sold or offered for sale, and from using violence against said stores and doing other unlawful acts in furtherance of an alleged conspiracy to injure the business of appellant, and from interfering with certain individuals, hereafter referred to as vendors, who purchased the milk from the appellant and resold it to stores or individuals. A preliminary injunction was issued but it was later modified to permit peaceful picketing of the appellant's plant. The appellees answered denying the allegations of force, violence and conspiracy, but admitted that they did cause peaceful picketing of certain stores which sold appellant's products, by having individuals carry banners or placards bearing thereon the words: ‘This store is unfair to Milk Wagon Drivers' Union, Local 753.’ The appellees allege they have a right to thus peacefully picket, as they claim terms and conditions of employment are involved as defined in the Anti-Injunction statute of the State of Illinois. Ill.Rev.Stat.1937, chap. 48, § 2a.

The members of the defendant union are employed upon a weekly basis by dairies competing with the Meadowmoor Company and have certain definite hours of work and deliver the milk, as employees, to customers of their employers. They have certain routes, solicit business and are paid a premium above the fixed minimum of sales. The Meadowmoor company does not follow this system. It sells its milk direct to certain individuals designated in the record as vendors, who own or rent delivery trucks, sell directly to stores and establish routes and sell from house to house and do their own collecting and retain the money so collected. The so-called vendors are not members of the union and do not follow the rules of the union with respect to hours of work or times of delivery, and their compensation depends upon how much milk they are able to sell to the customers they procure.

The appellees claim that disposing of milk in this way is injurious to the members of the union and has caused a number of them to lose employment because the appellant's milk was sold at a lower price than that of their employers. Appellees frankly admit that it is the system of vending or selling milk to purchasers at the plant, who, in turn, resell and deliver, to which they object. It is claimed this system brings about a situation which causes a dispute concerning terms and conditions of employment, thereby authorizing

[21 N.E.2d 311]

them to peacefully picket the stores purchasing milk without being restrained by injunction, except for the use of force or violence.

Evidence was heard before a master in chancery who recommended that a permanent injunction be issued against violence, unlawful actions and picketing of any kind. The superior court did not follow the recommendations, in full, but entered a decree enjoining all unlawful acts and acts of violence but permitted the picketing of stores buying appellant's products, and the vendors buying and reselling, by peaceable means including the carrying of the placards and banners above mentioned. From this decree appellant has appealed directly to this court claiming constitutional questions are involved. The appellees, by cross-appeal, claim that an injunction restraining the carrying of banners in a peaceable manner would restrict the right of free speech guaranteed by the Federal and State constitutions.

The appellant asserts its constitutional rights have been impaired by the judgment of the lower court in that its right to do business freely and without interruption has been illegally affected by the acts of the appellees. In reply to this claim appellees assert that with respect to the issue involved in this suit the right claimed by appellant, if it ever existed, is inferior to appellees' right to improve, by any peaceful means, the terms and conditions of labor, and that the rights claimed by appellant have been limited to such an extent that no relief in equity against the acts complained of is allowed, and the damages, if any, come within those for which no remedy is provided. It is, therefore necessary to examine the claim of the appellant with respect to its general right to be free from unlawful interference, interruption or intermeddling in the carrying on of its own business and to what extend it has been limited or deprived of the protection of judicial decree, for if such right never existed, or if it did exist and has been taken away, the case falls without regard to the affirmative claims of defendant.

At common law every man has full freedom in disposing of his own labor of capital and any one who maliciously invades that right by misrepresentation, fraud or coercion is liable, because such acts constitute unlawful competition. Doremus v. Hennessy, 176 Ill. 608, 52 N.E. 924,54 N.E. 524,43 L.R.A. 797, 802,68 Am.St.Rep. 203;Purington v. Hinchliff, 219 Ill. 159, 76 N.E. 47, 2 L.R.A.,N.S., 824, 109 Am.St.Rep. 322. He has a right to free and open market in which to purchase materials to do business and any one who invades such right without lawful cause commits a legal wrong. Carlson v. Carpenter Contractors' Ass'n, 305 Ill. 331, 137 N.E. 222, 27 A.L.R. 625;Carpenters' Union v. Citizens' Committee, 333 Ill. 225, 246, 164 N.E. 393. He has a right to enter into lawful contracts and any one who maliciously interferes by inducing such contracts to be broken, or by doing things which make them impossible of performance, is likewise liable. Angle v. Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad Co., 151 U.S. 1, 14 S.Ct. 240, 38 L.Ed. 55; Carpenters' Union v. Citizens Committee, supra. It is likewise illegal to persuade or coerce persons dealing with one in business into discontinuing such dealings by threats of injury to such customers by means commonly called a secondary boycott. Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U.S. 443, 41 S.Ct. 172, 65 L.Ed. 349, 16 A.L.R. 196;Auburn Draying Co. v. Wardell, 227 N.Y. 1, 124 N.E. 97, 6 A.L.R. 901;Godin v. Niebuhr, 236 Mass. 350, 128 N.E. 406; Purington v. Hinchliff, supra; Fenske Bros. v. Upholsterers' Union, 358 Ill. 239, 193 N.E. 112, 97 A.L.R. 1318;Wilson v. Hey, 232 Ill. 389, 83 N.E. 928, 16 L.R.A.,N.S., 85, 122 Am.St.Rep. 119,13 Ann.Cas. 82;Beck v. Railway Teamsters' Protective Union, 118 Mich. 497, 77 N.W. 13,42 L.R.A. 407, 74 Am.St.Rep. 421; 2 Cooley on Torts, 4th ed., p. 199. These rights constitute property, and access to one's place of business or the enjoyment of the good will attending it are incidents of property. Ossey v. Retail Clerks' Union, 326 Ill. 405, 158 N.E. 162;Mathews v. People, 202 Ill. 389, 401, 67 N.E. 28,63 L.R.A. 73, 95 Am.St.Rep. 241;Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U.S. 312, 42 S.Ct. 124, 66 L.Ed. 254, 27 A.L.R. 375. The foundation of the action is not necessarily the intent to injure, as a person may injure a person by a lawful act and intend to do so. The controlling feature is the malice which accompanies the intent to injure, which is manifested by the doing of an unlawful act, and for such purpose the injuring of the person in the emjoyment of his right to do business or to have employment is the unlawful act which, coupled with acts accompanying it, create the cause of action. Mogul S. S. Co. v. McGregor, L.R. 15 Q.B.D. 476;

[21 N.E.2d 312]

Doremus v. Hennessy, supra; 2 Cooley on Torts, 4th ed., sec. 227; Anderson v. Moskovitz, 260 Mass. 523, 157 N.E. 601.

The cases above cited furnish illustrations to show that at common law an action lies in favor of an employer, an employee, or a person injured by procuring a breach of contract or by an unauthorized interference with the right to do business.

The question arises to what extent have these general rights been modified or limited by the fact that the interference is caused by employees, or by persons who believe they have a right to interfere in an otherwise legitimate business enterprise because of its general effect upon their particular employment. The situation calling for determination of this question has usually arisen in cases between the employer and employee. In respect to this relation there has been a modification, and, in many instances, a complete change in the rule of the common law. In Illinois, by statute, it is provided that no contract requiring an employee to refrain from joining a union is valid (Ill.Rev.Stat.1937, chap. 48, § 2b) whereas, prior to such enactment,...

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