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Whippany Paperboard Co. v. Local No. 301

Decided: December 22, 1952.


On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division.

For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Burling, J.


[11 NJ Page 158] A civil action in the nature of a labor injunction suit was instituted by Whippany Paperboard Co.,

Inc. (hereinafter called the company), a New Jersey corporation having its principal place of business at Whippany, Morris County, New Jersey, and having three manufacturing plants at Whippany, namely the Hanover Mill, the Stony Brook Mill and the Eden Mill. The latter, having an entrance gate approximately 1,000 feet northerly of Thomas Street in Whippany, was the general site of the occurrences from which the present proceedings emanate. The company's complaint filed in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, named as defendants United Paperworkers of America, an "international union belonging to the Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.)," Local No. 297 and Local No. 301, "voluntary labor unions affiliated with United Paperworkers of America," various named individuals designated as "officers, trustees, board members or stewards" of the two defendant locals, including the defendants-appellants herein, namely Anthony Adamo (International Representative "of the parent union"), Martin Scalley (President, Local 297), George Skurchak (Assistant Chief Steward, Local 297), Jess (Jesse) Fisher (Executive Board Member, Local 301) and Phil (Philip) Nobile (Financial Secretary, Local 301).

At the time of the incidents involved in this matter that litigation had not progressed beyond the initial phase and therefore there was no final determination of the issues between the parties thereto. Under the circumstances we advert to the complaint to show the nature of the suit only, and not to adjudicate the main dispute nor to resolve any disputed fact therein. The civil action has not been brought to final judgment and no appeal therein is pending at this time.

The company's complaint included allegations relating to the history of collective bargaining between the company and the defendants, the inception of the strike by the defendants at the company's plants in August 1951, attempts at negotiations and mediation including conferences at the office of the New Jersey State Mediation Board, conduct of the company and the defendants during the strike preceding the times alleged in the complaint as basis for the suit, the

events alleged to have occurred on November 12, 1951, which the company asserted as the factual basis for the relief sought, and allegations of threatened substantial irreparable injury. The irreparable injury was characterized in the complaint as danger to company property through freezing, fire and explosion by virtue of inability to maintain the heating and sprinkler systems in the premises (there being present in the plants "many tons of waste paper and tons of finished paper stock and other miscellaneous combustibles") and through defendants' prevention of admission of the company's "supervisory, inventory and maintenance employees" to company property, endangering not only the plants but the surrounding community as well; specific conduct of the defendants was alleged to be "illegal" mass picketing, intimidation and threats of violence. The company sought injunctive relief against these alleged practices of the defendants. The complaint was verified by affidavit.

Upon this complaint the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Judge Thomas L. Stanton presiding, on November 16, 1951 filed an order requiring the defendants to show cause "before this court on the 21st day of November, 1951 at the Hudson County Court House" why the relief sought by the company should not be granted, and further ordered that pending the hearing on that return day the defendants be enjoined and restrained as follows:

"(a) From gathering, loitering or picketing about or around plaintiff's plants in Whippany, New Jersey, as set forth in the Bill of Complaint, or about the public streets or sidewalks approaching thereof or in close vicinity thereof; provided that not more of the number of pickets specified below may peaceably walk up and down the sidewalks or the streets adjacent to the entrances to said plants, specified below, upon condition that they maintain a space of at least ten feet between each picket and that they or any of them do not obstruct the entrances or any thereof to said plants, or molest or interfere with the entry into or egress from said plants by any employees, servants, or agents of plaintiffs, or by any person having business with plaintiff, that is to say:

(1) 3 pickets on the sidewalks and public streets outside and in front of the entrance of each of said plaintiff's plants in Whippany, New Jersey.

(b) From violence or threats of violence or intimidation practiced upon any person now employed by plaintiff, or who is willing to be employed by plaintiff.

(c) From ordering, commanding, directing, assisting, aiding or abetting in any manner whatsoever any person or persons who attempt to violate subdivisions (a) and (b) of this order, or either of them."

and the order also included the following provisions:

"It is further ORDERED that a copy of this order, which need not be certified, be served upon the defendants, Local No. 301 and Local No. 297, United Paperworkers of America, by service upon any of its officers or trustees within 3 days from the date hereof, and upon the other defendants within 3 days from the date hereof.

It is further ORDERED that any of the parties have leave to move to dissolve, enlarge or modify the restraints herein contained upon one days notice served upon the attorneys of the parties."

On November 21, 1951 the defendants named in the company's complaint appeared through counsel and applied for a continuance. The Superior Court, Chancery Division, entered an order granting the continuance and ordering the restraints contained in the order to show cause of November 16, 1951, supra, to be "continued and remain in full force and effect." On similar applications by the defendants, further continuances were granted by the court. Each of the orders granting the continuances continued the restraints ordered on November 16. Orders of this nature were filed December 5, 1951, December 20, 1951, January 23, 1952, February 20, 1952, March 19, 1952, April 25, 1952 and June 5, 1952 (the latter continuing the matter to July 8, 1952). These orders were all made by Judge Stanton, who ordered the initial restraints on November 16, 1951.

The incidents from which the present proceedings stem occurred on April 7 and April 8, 1952. Subsequent to these occurrences, on motion of the company supported by affidavits, on April 9, 1952 an order issued by the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Judge Joseph L. Smith presiding, which contained the following:

"* * * it now appearing to the court upon the affidavits of Anthony Desiderio, Frank Resotka, ...

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