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Westinghouse Electric Corp. v. Local No. 449 of International Union of Electrical and Radio

Decided: January 14, 1957.

WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION, A CORPORATION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LOCAL NO. 449 OF INTERNATIONAL UNION OF ELECTRICAL AND RADIO, MACHINE WORKERS, CIO, LOUIS BONYI, PRESIDENT, RUSSELL EMMONS, VICE PRESIDENT, AND JEAN BORICS, SECRETARY, ALL OF LOCAL NO. 449, CHARLES KOVACS, AMERICO FIORI, ANGELO CALISTI AND CIO CENTRAL JERSEY INDUSTRIAL UNION COUNCIL, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



On appeal from the Superior Court, Chancery Division.

For modification -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Wachenfeld, Burling and Jacobs. For reversal -- Justice Oliphant. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.

Wachenfeld

This appeal arises out of a labor injunction case in which the appellant, the Westinghouse Corporation, on three different occasions sought and obtained ex parte injunctive relief against the defendants. On full argument as to whether or not a preliminary injunction should be granted, the Chancery Division, after oral examination and cross-examination of witnesses offered on the appellant's behalf, discharged the orders to show cause and vacated the ad interim restraint.

Subsequently a supplemental complaint, again seeking to enjoin defendants from allegedly illegal picketing, was filed

by the appellant and a new order to show cause was issued without ex parte restraint. The defendants thereupon applied for and obtained an order directing the appellant to produce its president as a witness for the defendants at the final hearing, the appellant being given the right to demand the presence at the same time of any officers of the defendants it might desire to interrogate.

The defendants additionally, pending the return of the second order to show cause, moved to take the depositions on short notice of the plaintiff's president and its secretary and to require the appellant to produce "all minutes, books, records, paper writings, correspondence, instructions, directions, authorizations, documents and other records of the plaintiff corporation and its officers, directors, managing and authorized agents, dealing with, relating to or in any way appertaining to the negotiations between the plaintiff and all unions of employees in the plants operated by the plaintiff concerning the existing labor dispute between the plaintiff and said unions."

The appellant has some 50 plants in the country which are not all represented by the International Union of Electrical Workers, and at the time of defendants' motion it had settled its labor disputes with many of the 32 other unions at its other plants.

After granting the defendants' discovery motion, the court permitted the appellant to bring on for a hearing its motion to strike the notice to take the oral depositions of the officers aforementioned and to produce the specified documents and records. It also allowed the appellant to move to vacate the order directing the appearance of its president.

Subsequent to oral argument, the court, excepting in minor respects, denied the plaintiff's application to vacate or limit the defendants' short notice to take oral depositions and to produce documents and records. The court also refused to rescind its oral direction requiring the appearance of the president of the appellant company. The corporation requested leave to appeal from this unfavorable interlocutory disposition, a motion later abandoned. Its application for

a stay pending the allowance or denial of its appeal was denied by the trial court and by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court as well.

Unable to avoid what it obviously considered either the danger or the indignity of exposing its corporate president and records to examination, the appellant served a notice of motion for a voluntary dismissal of the proceedings. After oral argument by the respective parties, the court dismissed the action with prejudice, leaving open the question of counsel fees for which the defendants had applied at the hearing.

The parties were given ample opportunity to submit in writing their respective views for and against the propriety of taxing counsel fees. The court thereafter entered an order allowing to each of the two defense attorneys fees in the sum of $5,250, from which determination the appellant now appeals.

The sole issue to be decided is whether the Chancery Division had the power to tax counsel fees against the appellant corporation after the latter had voluntarily withdrawn its cause of ...


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