United Mine Workers of America Local 1972 v. Decker Coal Co., Nos. 88-42

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore THOMAS, URBIGKIT, MACY and GOLDEN, JJ., and GUTHRIE; GOLDEN
Citation774 P.2d 1274
Parties111 Lab.Cas. P 56,063 UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 1972; United Mine Workers of America International Union; and 91 Individual Citizens of the United States, Appellants (Defendants), v. DECKER COAL COMPANY, a joint venture, Appellee (Plaintiff). UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL UNION 1972 ("UMWA Local 1972"); United Mine Workers of America International Union ("UMWA International"); and 91 Individual Citizens of the United States ("91 Citizens"), Appellants (Defendants), v. DECKER COAL COMPANY, Appellee (Plaintiff).
Docket NumberNos. 88-42,88-83
Decision Date19 May 1989

Page 1274

774 P.2d 1274
111 Lab.Cas. P 56,063
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 1972; United Mine Workers of America International Union; and 91 Individual Citizens of the United States, Appellants (Defendants),
v.
DECKER COAL COMPANY, a joint venture, Appellee (Plaintiff).
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL UNION 1972 ("UMWA Local 1972"); United Mine Workers of America International Union ("UMWA International"); and 91 Individual Citizens of the United States ("91 Citizens"), Appellants (Defendants),
v.
DECKER COAL COMPANY, Appellee (Plaintiff).
Nos. 88-42, 88-83.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
May 19, 1989.

Page 1275

Michael K. Shoumacher and Hardy H. Tate, Sheridan, Robert H. Stropp, Jr. of Stropp & Nakamura, Birmingham, Ala., and Thomas E. Towe, Billings, Mont., for appellants in case No. 88-42 and 88-83.

Hayden F. Heaphy, Jr. of Burgess & Davis, Sheridan, Warren L. Tomlinson, Jeffrey T. Johnson, and Sandra R. Goldman of Holland & Hart, Denver, Colo., for appellee in case No. 88-42 and No. 88-83.

Before THOMAS, URBIGKIT, MACY and GOLDEN, JJ., and GUTHRIE, J., Retired.

GOLDEN, Justice.

A parent labor union, its local administrative subsidiary, and ninety union members seek reversal of their contempt convictions arising out of a labor dispute with their employer. The convictions were founded on allegations that the two unions

Page 1276

and their individual members violated a preliminary injunction by blocking a state highway to prevent nonunion "replacement" workers from traveling to the employer's coal mine and by damaging the employer's pickup truck. The district court fined each union member $100 and suspended the fines on the condition that they would not further violate the injunction. The district court entered a judgment in favor of the employer and against the unions in the sum of $6,725.67 for property damages plus attorneys' fees incurred by the employer in prosecuting the contempt action. In addition to this assessment, each union was required to post a $40,000 bond subject to forfeiture if any further violations of the district court's order occurred.

The appellants are the United Mine Workers of America International Union (UMWAI), its administrative subdivision designated as the United Mine Workers of America Local Union No. 1972 (Local), and ninety individual union members. Appellee Decker Coal Company (Decker) operates a strip coal mine in Big Horn County, Montana, about twenty miles north of Sheridan, Wyoming. UMWAI and the Local represent most of the nonsupervisory employees at the Decker mine.

In their appeal, the ninety individual appellants assert that the district court found them in criminal, not civil, contempt and that those criminal contempt convictions must be reversed because the individual appellants were not properly notified that they were being charged with criminal contempt. UMWAI and the Local appeal their contempt convictions, asserting, among other issues, that the district court erred in finding them in contempt for their members' actions.

We reverse the contempt convictions.

I
ISSUES

In our disposition of these appeals, we shall discuss the following issues as expressed by appellants:

1. Whether the District Court erred in denying the individual Appellants, non-Defendants below, Motion to dissolve and dismiss show cause Orders and quash service where the show cause Orders served upon the individuals failed to identify them as persons against whom the Order was issued and failed to articulate the charges against them?

2. Whether the sanctions directed against the individual Appellants amounted to an improper adjudication of criminal contempt against these individuals?

3. Whether the district Court erred in judicating the International and Local 1972 in contempt of Court? 1

Appellants raised three additional issues arising from the district court's contempt order and its amendment. They are stated in this way:

4. Whether the District Court's Order requiring the Unions to post $40,000.00 bonds which would be forfeited upon future violations of the preliminary injunction by the Unions or any members, agents, representatives, employees or persons acting in concert with them, violates Section 27-7-107 of the Wyoming statutes?

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5. Whether the District Court's Order restricting the strike activities of the Unions and their members until the International posts a $40,000.00 bond violates the right to free speech and assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment?

6. May a District Court delegate its judicial function of enforcing the injunctive Orders of the Court, as well as the determination of whether such injunction has been violated, to a Sheriff, police officer or other law enforcement officer?

During oral argument in this court, the parties informed the court that on December 8, 1988, the district court, acting on and pursuant to the parties' agreement, had entered its Order Modifying Preliminary Injunction, Amended Preliminary Injunction, and Contempt Orders. The modification order deleted those provisions of the contempt order and its amendment requiring the unions to post bonds and providing for forfeiture upon future violations, imposing restrictions on the unions' strike activity until UMWAI posted its bond and allowing law enforcement officials to enforce the injunction. In contrast to appellee Decker's position that this modification order renders moot these three additional issues, appellants urge us to consider them since they are capable of repetition and would always evade review because of their "short-lived" nature in disputes of this kind.

In our judgment, the parties' agreement and the modification order render these additional issues moot. In Interest of AJ, 736 P.2d 721, 723 (Wyo.1987). Cf., Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 108 S.Ct. 592, 601, 98 L.Ed.2d 686 (1988). Accordingly, we decline to consider them.

II
FACTS

On October 1, 1987, the parties' collective bargaining agreement expired. Since that day the parties have been engaged in a labor dispute.

Because of alleged unlawful activities during union demonstrations on October 21 and October 23, 1987, giving rise to allegations of rock throwing, property damage and blocked access to Decker facilities, Decker filed a complaint in the district court on October 23, 1987, against UMWAI, the Local, eight specifically named individuals in both their individual and representative capacities and John Does and Jane Does in both their individual and representative capacities, seeking a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, a permanent injunction and damages. Decker also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the same defendants. The Sheridan County sheriff served a notice of the hearing of Decker's action on Mr. Larry Deeds as president and agent for service of the Local and on one Tom Wells. At 7:30 p.m., October 23, 1987, the district court issued a temporary restraining order against those defendants named in the caption of Decker's action. On October 27, those defendants filed a counterclaim against Decker, seeking injunctive relief to prevent Decker from interfering with the defendants' alleged lawful labor activities.

On November 4, 1987, after several days of hearing the district court entered its preliminary injunction against those defendants named in the caption of Decker's action, restraining them, in pertinent part, from damaging Decker's property and from impeding Decker employees' travel to and from work at the mine. On December 10, 1987, in the same action in which the November 4 preliminary injunction issued, Decker filed a motion for an order to show cause why UMWAI, the Local and the ninety individual appellants whose names were listed on an exhibit A attached to the motion, "should not be adjudged in civil contempt of this Court * * * for having violated and disregarded the terms of said Preliminary Injunction * * *." In its motion Decker alleged that on November 10, 1987, "Defendants and persons acting in concert with them (exhibit A purported to be a list of persons present and participating)" blocked Wyoming State Highway 338 (the Decker road) about eight miles north of the city of Sheridan, impeding Decker employees'

Page 1278

travel to their place of work at the mine.

According to the motion, Decker property was damaged in the amount of $6,725.67, and law enforcement personnel arrested fifty-eight individuals. In addition to seeking the district court's show cause order, Decker asked the court "to order that Defendants purge themselves of said contempt by payment to [Decker] of the sum of $6,725.67, together with all costs of this proceeding, including reasonable attorney's fees; and to punish said Defendants and their individual officers and members, for such contempt in such manner as the Court deems just and proper."

On the same day that Decker's motion was filed, the district court in its order to show cause ordered UMWAI, the Local, "and each individual named on Exhibit A" attached to the order to appear before the court on December 28, 1987,

to show cause * * * as to why said Defendants should not be held in civil contempt of Court for disobeying and disregarding the provisions of the [November 4, 1987, preliminary injunction]. Specifically, why said Defendants have impeded travel by [Decker's] employees to and from work at [Decker's] mine by blocking Wyoming State Highway 338; why said Defendants have damaged [Decker's] property; * * * why said Defendants should not be ordered to pay [Decker's] damages and reasonable attorney's fees, and court costs as a result of having to bring this action; why this Court should not provide such other and further relief as it deems just and proper.

Exhibit A attached to this order listed ninety-two individuals allegedly present and participating in the highway blocking incident. 2 Although the Sheridan County sheriff purportedly served most of these individuals with a copy of...

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33 practice notes
  • Beaulieu v. Florquist, No. 02-276.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • March 25, 2004
    ...waived even if not raised below. Boyd, 909 P.2d at 325 (quoting United Mine Workers of America Local 1972 v. Decker 86 P.3d 868 Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1283-84 (Wyo.1989)); Nicholaus v. Nicholaus, 756 P.2d 1338, 1342 (Wyo.1988); Bell, 662 P.2d at 415. We have, in fact, previously stated th......
  • Marquiss v. Marquiss, No. 90-184
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 7, 1992
    ...648 P.2d 501. See also Jessen v. Jessen, 802 P.2d 901 (Wyo.1990). Cf. United Mine Workers of America, Local 1972 v. Decker Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1281 (Wyo.1989), where neither contract nor statute existed (including rule of procedure), imposition of attorney's fees became punitive and co......
  • Best v. Best, No. S–15–0051.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 30, 2015
    ...Mut. of Omaha Ins. Co. v. Blury–Losolla, 952 P.2d 1117, 1119 (Wyo.1998) ; United Mine Workers of America Local 1972 v. Decker Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1283–84 (Wyo.1989).[¶ 11] Wyoming courts derive their jurisdiction from the Wyoming Constitution and from the Wyoming legislature. Article 5......
  • Gookin v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Ins. Co., No. 91-130
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 3, 1992
    ...while continuing to preserve its objections. Vanover, 307 P.2d at 121; United Mine Workers of America, Local 1972 v. Decker Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1283 (Wyo.1989); 5A C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 2d § 1352 (1990). State Farm maintained its objections to personal j......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Beaulieu v. Florquist, No. 02-276.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • March 25, 2004
    ...waived even if not raised below. Boyd, 909 P.2d at 325 (quoting United Mine Workers of America Local 1972 v. Decker 86 P.3d 868 Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1283-84 (Wyo.1989)); Nicholaus v. Nicholaus, 756 P.2d 1338, 1342 (Wyo.1988); Bell, 662 P.2d at 415. We have, in fact, previously stated th......
  • Marquiss v. Marquiss, No. 90-184
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 7, 1992
    ...648 P.2d 501. See also Jessen v. Jessen, 802 P.2d 901 (Wyo.1990). Cf. United Mine Workers of America, Local 1972 v. Decker Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1281 (Wyo.1989), where neither contract nor statute existed (including rule of procedure), imposition of attorney's fees became punitive and co......
  • Best v. Best, No. S–15–0051.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 30, 2015
    ...Mut. of Omaha Ins. Co. v. Blury–Losolla, 952 P.2d 1117, 1119 (Wyo.1998) ; United Mine Workers of America Local 1972 v. Decker Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1283–84 (Wyo.1989).[¶ 11] Wyoming courts derive their jurisdiction from the Wyoming Constitution and from the Wyoming legislature. Article 5......
  • Gookin v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Ins. Co., No. 91-130
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 3, 1992
    ...while continuing to preserve its objections. Vanover, 307 P.2d at 121; United Mine Workers of America, Local 1972 v. Decker Coal Co., 774 P.2d 1274, 1283 (Wyo.1989); 5A C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 2d § 1352 (1990). State Farm maintained its objections to personal j......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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