State ex rel. St. Louis-San Francisco Ry. v. Russell

Decision Date14 March 1949
Docket NumberNo. 41176.,41176.
Citation219 S.W.2d 340
PartiesTHE STATE OF MISSOURI, at the Relation of ST. LOUIS-SAN FRANCISCO RAILWAY COMPANY, a Corporation, Relator, v. HONORABLE HARRY F. RUSSELL, Judge of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, Respondent.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

M.G. Roberts, E.G. Nahler, C.H. Skinker, Jr., and A.J. Baumann for relator.

(1) It clearly appears upon this record that the case below involves a jurisdictional labor dispute. In granting the temporary injunction against relator, the respondent acted without, and in excess of, the jurisdiction of the Court. Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C.A., Sec. 151 et seq.; Order of Conductors v. Pitney, 326 U.S. 561; Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. v. Randolph, 164 F. (2d) 4, certiorari denied 68 S. Ct. 1083; General Committee v. M.-K.-T.R. Co., 320 U.S. 323; Howard v. Thompson, 72 F. Supp. 695. (2) Prohibition is the proper remedy where the court acts without, or in excess of, its jurisdiction. State ex rel. v. Aloe, 152 Mo. 466, 54 S.W. 494; State ex rel. v. Williams, 221 Mo. 227, 120 S.W. 740; State ex rel. v. Bright, 224 Mo. 514, 123 S.W. 1057; State ex rel. Natl. Refining Co. v. Seehorn, 344 Mo. 547, 127 S.W. (2d) 418.

Victor Packman and Henry D. Espy for respondent; Charles H. Houston of counsel.

(1) On prohibition the crucial question is whether a matter was presented to the lower court which that court has the power to deal with. The petition below involves the right of Negro citizens to protect their means of a livelihood from discriminatory practices and illegal conduct on the part of the defendant (as well as a violation of the Railway Labor Act). The suit involves property rights. A man's occupation partakes of the character of property. State v. McQuillin, 262 Mo. 256; Clarkson v. Laiblan, 178 Mo. App. 708; Door Co. v. Fuelle, 215 Mo. 421; State ex rel. Chase v. Hall, 297 Mo. 594; 30 C.J.S., 399, sec. 58; Grand International Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Mills, 31 P. (2d) 971, 43 Ariz. 379; Easley v. Betts, 161 Kan. 459, 169 P. (2d) 831; James v. Marinship Corp., 25 Cal. (2d) 721, 155 P. (2d) 329; Williams v. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, etc., 165 P. (2d) 903; Bautista v. Jones, 155 P. (2d) 343, 25 Cal. (2d) 746. (2) Plaintiffs have a natural, essential and inalienable right to pursue any legitimate occupation under our form of government, and they complained to the court that such rights were being denied them. A court of equity in the exercise of its proper functions could protect such constitutional rights whether under the Federal or State constitutions or Civil Rights Act, Title 8, Secs. 41 and 43. Asher v. Ingles, 13 Fed. Supp. 654; 16 C.J.S., p. 622, sec. 211; pp. 625, 626, sec. 212; Smith v. Texas, 233 U.S. 630; Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390; Butchers' Union v. Crescent City, 111 U.S. 746; Live Stock Dealers etc. v. Crescent City Live Stock Handling Co., 15 Fed. Cases #8408 pp. 649, 652, 653; Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 41; Tiburcio Parrott, 1 Fed. 498; Wills v. Restaurant Employees. 26 Ohio N.P. (N.S.) 435. (3) Courts of equity have power to pass on questions of employee seniority. Nord v. Griffin, 86 Fed. (2d) 481, certiorari denied, 300 U.S. 673, 81 Law Ed. 879; Grand International Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Mills, 31 P. (2d) 971, 43 Ariz. 379. (4) There is nothing in the Railway Labor Act, express or implied, which prevents seeking recourse to the courts for a violation of civil rights of railroad employees and if it is so construed it should be held unconstitutional as in violation of the V and XIV amendments. The Civil Rights Act expressly permits redress to the courts — and no repeal of that Act (constitutionally based) is to be found in the Railway Labor Act. 8 U.S.C.A., Secs. 41, 43; Steele v. L. & N.R. Co., 323 U.S. 192; Betts v. Easley, 161 Kan. 459, 169 P. (2d) 831; Dooley v. Lehigh Valley R. Co., 130 N.J. Eq. 75, 21 A. (2d) 334. (5) Even when Congress creates a right of action unless it expressly provides that the rights should be enforceable only in a Federal court, State courts and Federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction. State of Missouri ex rel. v. Taylor, 266 U.S. 200, 69 L. Ed. 247. (Mr. Justice Brandeis) affirming, 298 Mo. 474, 251 S.W. 483. (6) Considering the relation between the Federal and State Government, there is no presumption that Congress intended to prevent state courts from exercising the general jurisdiction already possessed by them, and under which they had the power to hear and determine causes of action created by Federal statute ..." Galveston Ry. Co. v. Wallace, 223 U.S. 481, 56 L. Ed. 516. (7) A state court of original jurisdiction, having the parties before it, may, consistently with existing Federal legislation, determine cases at law or in equity, arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States, or involving rights dependent upon such Constitution or laws. Robb v. Connolly, 111 U.S. 624. (8) The Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis had the power to act on the plaintiff's petition to protect a property right and grant the relief which it did. This jurisdiction is in no wise impaired by the consideration whether it acted in accordance with the law or erroneously. Its jurisdiction does not depend on whether its decision is right or wrong. If it has the power to decide a question, it has the power to decide the question erroneously, which error may be corrected on appeal. State ex rel. v. Skinker, 341 Mo. 28, 106 S.W. (2d) 409; State v. McQuillin, 262 Mo. 256, 171 S.W. 72. (9) There are no fact issues determined by a commissioner and neither side has requested one. Hence, all well pleaded allegations of the return must be taken as true for purposes of the case. Averments of the petition for a writ of prohibition to the extent that they were specifically denied by the return must be taken as false. State ex rel. v. Shelton, 238 Mo. 281; State ex rel. v. Shields, 237 Mo. 229. (10) The question of whether the court below has acted in excess of its jurisdiction or whether it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter is to be determined from the allegations in the petition in the case pending before the respondent and the evidence considered by him, and not from facts which the relator injects into the situation de hors the record. State ex rel. Chase v. Hall, 297 Mo. 594; State v. Joynt, 110 S.W. (2d) 737, 341 Mo. 788; 50 C.J., p. 706, sec. 134; 50 C.J., p. 710, sec. 137. (11) Even if it can be determined from the petition that the petition would be subject to demurrer or needs amendment in the Circuit Court, prohibition does not lie. State ex rel. Leek v. Harris, 334 Mo. 713, 67 S.W. (2d) 981; State v. Sevier, 98 S.W. (2d) 677; State v. Hay, 153 S.W. (2d) 834. (12) The United States Supreme Court has defined a jurisdictional dispute as one involving an asserted "overlapping of the interests of two crafts." (Emphasis ours.) General Committee B.L.E. v. M.-K.-T., 320 U.S. 323, 88 Law Ed. 77. (13) It has also been defined as follows: "It involves a determination of the point where the exclusive jurisdiction of one craft ends and where the authority of another craft begins." (Emphasis ours.) General Committee B.L.E. v. Southern Pacific Co., 320 U.S. 339, 88 Law Ed. 85. (14) Where the jurisdiction of the circuit court depends upon disputed questions of fact, that court has the right to determine its own jurisdiction from the facts before it, and prohibition will not be granted to prevent it from so doing. State ex rel. Addison v. Bowron, 75 S.W. (2d) 850; State ex rel. v. Caulfield, 245 Mo. 676, 150 S.W. 1047; State ex rel. v. Mills, 231 Mo. 483. (15) Even if the B. of R.T. should have been joined as a party, such defect would not be jurisdictional or grounds for invoking prohibition, as no orders were made having any binding effect on the B.R.T. 30 C.J.S. 595. (16) A defect of parties for non-joinder is ground for dismissal of bill, but it would be reversible error not to permit amendment and joinder. 30 C.J.S. 597, 598. (17) The Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen is not an employee of the Relator and has no justiciable interest in the controversy between the plaintiffs employed by the Carrier, and the Carrier accused of discriminating against them because of their race. It cannot show any injury in not being joined as a party. But even if it can, prohibition is not the remedy. The relator cannot by a "sidestroke" pervert the functions of the writ. State ex rel. v. McQuillin, 262 Mo. 256; 21 C.J. 343, Sec. 341, cited in Davis v. Austin, 156 S.W. (2d) 903; Elgin, Joliet & Eastern R. Co. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 89 L. Ed. 1887, 1900. (18) The closed shop or requirement for membership in a union is forbidden under the Railway Labor Act. Joliet & Eastern R. Co. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 734, 89 L. Ed. 1887, Title 45, Sec. 152, U.S.C.A. (19) There are two administrative agencies set up under the Railway Labor Act. The National Railroad Adjustment Board does not have the power to adjudicate jurisdictional disputes between two groups of employees. So if the matter as presented below was truly a jurisdictional dispute between two crafts, the Adjustment Board could not solve the problem. Order of Railway Telegraphers v. M.O.T. and N. Railway Co., 156 Fed. (2d) 1. (20) The National Mediation Board also has very limited jurisdiction and not of matters such as those here involved. It can only determine who are members of a craft as an incident to a representation dispute as to who are eligible to vote in choosing a collective bargaining agent for a craft. The Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen v. National Mediation Board, 135 Fed. (2d) 780; General Committee B.L.E. v. M.-K.-T. Ry. Co., 320 U.S. 325, 88 L. Ed. 76. (21) The First Division of the National Railroad Adjustment Board does not have...

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