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Samoff v. Williamsport Building and Construction Trades Council

decided: October 18, 1971.

BERNARD SAMOFF, REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE FOURTH REGION OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
v.
WILLIAMSPORT BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL, AFL-CIO, APPELLANT IN 19204, AND LOCAL 812, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, AFL-CIO. APPEAL OF LOCAL 812, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, AFL-CIO, IN 19205



Kalodner, Van Dusen and Aldisert, Circuit Judges.

Author: Kalodner

Opinion OF THE COURT

KALODNER, Circuit Judge.

The District Court, by Order dated May 25, 1970, issued a temporary injunction against the appellant unions in proceedings instituted by the appellee Regional Director of the NLRB, pursuant to § 10(l) of the National Labor Relations Board Act, as amended.*fn1 The temporary injunction restrained the appellants from engaging in unfair labor practices in violation of § 8(b)(4)(i), (ii)(B) of the Act,*fn2 which prohibits certain types of secondary boycotts until final adjudication by the National Labor Relations Board of pending charges relating to such practices.

The appellants have appealed from the District Court's Order granting injunctive relief. They have also appealed from an Order of the District Court denying their application "to compel" the Regional Director to answer certain questions which he refused to answer during the taking of his deposition prior to the hearing on the injunction petition. The appellants contend that the denial of their application was an "unreasonable restriction" of discovery procedures available to them under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which so impeded their defense in the injunction action as to constitute prejudicial error.

The stated contention presents the critical question whether the District Court, under the prevailing circumstances, committed prejudicial error in refusing to compel the Regional Director to answer certain questions during the prehearing deposition.

Relevant to the resolution of this issue are these undisputed facts:

The Regional Director filed his petition for temporary injunction on April 9, 1970. On April 10, 1970, the District Court issued an order directing, inter alia, the appellants to answer the petition and to appear before the Court on April 24, 1970 to show cause why they should not be enjoined as requested in the petition.

On April 17, 1970, the appellants filed a Notice for the taking of the oral deposition of the Regional Director on April 21, 1970, pursuant to Rule 26 F.R.Civ.P. The Notice requested the production of "such documents in his file as he believes support the allegation of the Petition that the Petitioner has reasonable cause to believe that Respondents have violated" § 8(b)(4)(B) of the National Labor Relations Act. No subpoena was issued to compel his appearance, as provided for by Rule 45(a) and (b) F.R.Civ.P. The Director appeared for the taking of his deposition. He, however, refused to answer certain questions,*fn3 which appellants contend were asked "for the purpose of discovering both the facts on which the Regional Director intended to rely and such additional facts, known to him, as might have aided the Union in its defense. * * *"

On April 23, 1970, the appellants filed with the District Court an "Application For Order Under Rule 37(a) F.R.C.P." which asked the Court "to compel" the Director to answer the questions he had refused to answer. Oral argument was heard on this Application on April 24, 1970, and the Court reserved decision.

The injunction hearing proceeded on April 24, 1970, when the Director presented the testimony of his witnesses in support of his injunction petition. The Director's witnesses were subjected to extensive cross-examination by the appellants. The hearing was then continued to May 1, 1970, to permit the appellants three days to prepare their defense in light of the testimony presented by the Director. The appellants presented their testimony on May 1, 1970. On May 24, 1970, the District Court, as earlier stated, filed an Order granting the temporary injunction, and the Order denying the appellants' Application "to compel" the Director to answer the questions which he had refused to answer when his deposition was taken on April 21, 1970.

The District Court, in its Opinion at 313 F. Supp. 1105 (M.D.Pa.1970), after ruling that discovery was available to respondents in a § 10(l) temporary injunction proceeding, and that the Director did not contend to the contrary, said (P. 1109):

"* * * The petition filed by the government had sufficient clarity upon which respondents could have prepared an adequate defense. Respondents heard all of the petitioner's testimony and their counsel fully cross-examined petitioner's witnesses three days before they were obliged to defend the case. In consequence, the court concludes that sufficient discovery had been made available to the respondents, and considering the necessity of expeditious proceedings, no further discovery was necessary. * * *"

On review of the record we are of the opinion that the District Court, under the prevailing circumstances, acted within the scope of its permissible discretion in denying the appellants' Application to compel the Director to answer the ...


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