Seafarers' Welfare Plan v. George E. Light Boat Storage, Inc.

Decision Date14 April 1966
Docket NumberNo. 14756,14756
Citation402 S.W.2d 231
PartiesSEAFARERS' WELFARE PLAN, Appellant, v. GEORGE E. LIGHT BOAT STORAGE, INC., Appellee. . Houston
CourtTexas Court of Appeals

Newton B. Schwartz, Houston, for appellant.

Robert R. Breaker, La Porte, for appellee.

WERLEIN, Justice.

This suit was brought by appellant, Seafarers' Welfare Plan, against George E. Light Boat Storage, Inc., appellee, on an alleged sworn account. Appellant pleaded that appellee employed persons in its business and that it had theretofore contractually agreed to pay to appellant the sum of $6,896.91 as set forth in the exhibit attached to its petition, and that appellee had promised and contracted to pay appellant a daily sum of money for each day each of its employees performed labor and services and worked for appellee, together with attorney's fees. Trial was to the court without a jury and judgment was rendered that appellant take nothing .

Appellant's petition does not state what Seafarers' Welfare Plan is, but its attorney testified that it was an unincorporated association under New York law, and that one Paul Drozak was a trustee thereof. Said attorney also testified that he was the attorney for appellant and for Seafarers' International Union of North America, Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland, AFL-CIO, and that he had known Drozak personally since 1962 when he became agent for appellant and also seafarers' International Union, and the Inland Boatmen's Union, for Texas, and that he recognized Mr. Drozak's signature on plaintiff's exhibits 1, 1-A and 3.

At the request of appellant, the court made its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court found that appellant had failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence any contractual relationship between it and appellee, and concluded that as a matter of law appellee was not indebted to appellant in any amount.

Appellant first complains that the trial court erred in holding that appellant's cause of action is not governed by federal law under the National Labor Relations Act, but by the Texas Business Corporation Act, V.A.T.S., and Texas rules of contract law. The court after making certain additional findings of fact and conclusions of law of a negative nature, which need not be set out in this opinion, concluded that appellant's cause of action is of such character that the federal National Labor Relations Act would be relevant, but not to the exclusion of the Texas Business Corporation Act nor the rules of contract law.

Appellant asserts in its brief that its suit was brought not only on a sworn account but also on a collective bargaining contract between appellee, appellant and the Inland Boatmen's Union of the Seafarers' International Union, Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland Waters District, AFL-CIO, to recover payments due and owing to appellant during the period from September, 1963 to May 31, 1965. We find no reference in appellant's petition to said Union, which may be referred to herein for brevity as SIU. It is not a party to this suit. Appellant's Exhibit No. 1 appears to be a collective bargaining agreement between SIU and appellee. This agreement is dated March 1, 1962, and appears to have been signed and executed for SIU by Paul Drozak. It is not shown in what capacity he executed such agreement. The agreement also appears to have been executed by appellee with Joe B. Light's signature under its typed name. It is not shown in what capacity Joe B. Light signed. The evidence shows, however, that during the year 1962 Joe B. Light was a vice president of appellee.

Attached to appellant's Exhibit No. 1 is a form of agreement between appellee, SIU and the Board of Trustees of the Seafarers' Welfare Plan. It appears to be a separate form of agreement, and it was also separately introduced in evidence by appellant as its Exhibit No. 3. It provides that the present contribution to the plan will be $1.75 per day per employee for employment after March 1, 1962, and provides that the Seafarers' Welfare Plan trustees are authorized to create a pension fund, and to include an allocation of the total contribution to Seafarers' Welfare Plan between the Welfare Fund and the Pension Fund, and that the trustees of the Seafarers' Welfare Plan are further authorized to amend the trust agreement of Seafarers' Welfare Plan to conform with the trust agreement associated with the Seafarers' Pension Fund to any current collective bargaining agreement, and further states that each signatory company shall make a contribution to the Seafarers' Welfare Plan and that the trustees thereof will allocate a portion thereof to the Seafarers' Welfare Fund and a portion to the Seafarers' Pension Fund as they deem advisable. This instrument is dated May 2, 1962. It appears to have been executed for SIU by Paul Drozak, Agent. The other name appearing thereon is George E. Light Boat Stg., Inc., by Joe B. Light, vice president and secretary. The evidence shows that Joe B. Light was not the secretary of appellee. The name 'Seafarers' Welfare Plan' is also typed on this instrument but it has not been signed or executed by Seafarers' Welfare Plan. No explanation is given by appellant as to why Seafarers' Welfare Plan did not execute the instrument.

Drozak signed for the Union the collective bargaining agreement between SIU and appellee, which was entered into on March 1, 1962, and he also signed for the Union the one-page instrument dated May 2, 1962, appellant's Exhibit No. 3, designating himself as Agent for the SIU, although he did not state in what capacity he signed the collective bargaining agreement. He also appears to have signed as of February 7, 1964 for SIU an agreement which appears to have been signed on February 26, 1964 by appellee by its president, George E. Light. This instrument, which undertakes to change the contributions to the Seafarers' Welfare Plan to $1.95 per day per employee for employment after March 1, 1964, was not signed or executed by appellant. The trial court found as a fact that appellant failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence any contractual relationship between it and appellee, and hence the court concluded as a matter of law that appellee was not indebted to appellant in any amount. Appellant sued and relied upon a contract between it and appellee to establish that the amount sued for was due it from appellee. It failed to meet the burden of establishing that there was such contract. It failed, therefore, to establish any basis for its alleged sworn account and claim, even assuming the such unitemized claim could be considered a sworn account. We cannot say that the trial court erred in his finding of fact.

It should be noted here that appellant failed to obtain the testimony of Drozak either in person or by deposition, and failed to introduce any evidence that there was any oral or written agreement between the three parties which was entered into by them all. It merely introduced in evidence a one-page incomplete agreement which was not executed by Seafarers' Welfare Plan. Drozak, who signed the agreement for the Union as its alleged agent, was not present at the trial, and, as stated, did not testify. There is nothing to show that there was any oral agreement between the parties prior to the incomplete written form of agreement....

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6 cases
  • Leitman v. Boone, 82-1517
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • October 18, 1983
    ...v. Hirschfield, 404 So.2d 153 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), rev. denied, 412 So.2d 466 (Fla.1982); accord, Seafarers' Welfare Plan v. George E. Light Boat Storage, Inc., 402 S.W.2d 231 (Tex.Civ.App.1966); Ellis v. Williams, 312 S.W.2d 97 (Mo.1958); 1 S. Williston, W. Jaeger, Williston on Contracts § ......
  • TCA Bldg. Co. v. Northwestern Resources Co.
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • April 30, 1996
    ...v. State, 694 S.W.2d 391, 397 (Tex.App.--San Antonio 1985, writ ref'd n.r.e.); Seafarers' Welfare Plan v. George E. Light Boat Storage, Inc., 402 S.W.2d 231, 234 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston 1966, writ ref'd n.r.e.); see The Atrium v. Kenwin Shops of Crockett, Inc., 666 S.W.2d 315, 317 (Tex.App.-......
  • Peniche v. Aeromexico
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • April 5, 1979
    ...making it an illegal contract. 13 Tex.Jur.2d Contracts, Section 220 (1960); Seafarer's Welfare Plan v. George E. Light Boat Storage, Inc., 402 S.W.2d 231 (Tex.Civ.App. Houston 1966, writ ref'd n. r. e.); Continental Fire & Cas. Ins. Corp., v. American Mfg. Co., 221 S.W.2d 1006 (Tex.Civ.App.......
  • Smith v. Davis
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • August 20, 2014
    ...for publication). A void contract is no contract; it binds no one and is a nullity. Id. (citing Seafarers' Welfare Plan v. George E. Light Boat Storage, Inc., 402 S.W.2d 231, 234 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1966, writ. ref'd n.r.e.)). No disaffirmance is required to avoid a void contract......
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