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Bethlehem Mines Corp. v. United Mine Workers of America

decided: February 12, 1973.

BETHLEHEM MINES CORPORATION, A WEST VIRGINIA CORPORATION
v.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, W. A. BOYLE, PRESIDENT; DISTRICT NO. 2, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, OWEN F. SLAGLE, PRESIDENT; LOCAL UNION NO. 1368, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, WILLIAM A. RISBON, PRESIDENT, FRANK CLAYPOOL, VICE PRESIDENT, GEORGE W. COMMONS, RECORDING SECRETARY, GASPER S. ZAFFUTO, FINANCIAL SECRETARY, ROBERT T. RUSSELL, WELFARE SECRETARY AND CHARLES D. NEFF, COMMITTEEMAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TRUSTEES AD LITEM, APPELLANTS



(D.C. Civil Action No. 71-157). APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA.

Biggs, Adams and Hunter, Circuit Judges.

Author: Adams

Opinion OF THE COURT

ADAMS, Circuit Judge.

In this appeal, defendant Local 1368 challenges an order of the district court adjudging it in civil contempt.

Plaintiff, Bethlehem Mines Corp., brought suit under section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 against the United Mine Workers of America, District No. 2, and Local 1368. Alleging an illegal strike in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, Bethlehem Mines sought to compel the defendants to return to work and to arbitrate the dispute.

On February 18, 1971, the district court held a hearing on plaintiff's application for a temporary restraining order and, after noting that the involved employees had returned to work, decided to take no action other than to retain jurisdiction. On February 26, 1971, after another work stoppage, the district court held a further hearing and entered a temporary restraining order enjoining the strike and directing arbitration of the dispute. On March 4, 1971, the temporary restraining order was continued until March 9, 1971. After further proceedings, the district court, at a hearing on March 9, 1971, orally continued the temporary restraining order as a preliminary injunction, without objection from the defendants. Defendants neither moved to vacate the temporary restraining order or the preliminary injunction continuing it, nor did they file an appeal.

On May 26, 1971, the district court, on plaintiff's motion, issued a rule to show cause why defendant Local 1368 should not be adjudged in civil contempt because of further work stoppages. Hearing on this motion was continued. On August 19, 1971, however, after another work stoppage, plaintiff filed a second motion for a rule to show cause and a motion for adjudication of civil contempt.

On August 23, 1971, the district court held a hearing on the motions filed on August 19. The next day the district court filed a memorandum and findings of fact and conclusions of law, dated August 23, 1971, and a memorandum and order adjudging defendant Local 1368 in civil contempt.

Both in briefs and at oral argument, Local 1368 has mounted its assault on the district court's order holding it in civil contempt, principally upon two grounds: (1) because of the Norris-LaGuardia Act the district court lacked the power to grant injunctive relief and erred in ruling that, under Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, 398 U.S. 235, 26 L. Ed. 2d 199, 90 S. Ct. 1583 (1970), it had such power; (2) the district court did not have jurisdiction because it failed to make required findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of the preliminary injunction.

Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for the filing of findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of an order granting a preliminary injunction, a failure to do so simultaneously with the decree does not deprive a court of jurisdiction and of power to adjudge in civil contempt those violating such order. Cf. United States v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., 320 F.2d 509 (3d Cir. 1963).

The Norris-LaGuardia Act's restriction on federal court power to grant injunctive relief in labor disputes is, in the posture of the present case, not controlling with respect to the question whether the court has the power to hold a defendant in contempt for refusing to obey its order.*fn1 While the Norris-LaGuardia Act delimits the power of federal courts to issue injunctions, it does not remove federal jurisdiction to adjudicate controversies properly before the court. Even assuming, arguendo, that the district court may be ultimately deemed without power to grant a particular form of relief, that does not imply that the court is entirely without jurisdiction to determine, by an appropriate hearing, whether to consider the matter at all.

In this case, to ascertain whether it had the power to grant injunctive relief, the district court had to examine the applicability of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the Supreme Court's decision in Boys Markets, supra. The court certainly had jurisdiction to make that determination. And after the district court held that, under Boys Markets, it had the power to grant injunctive relief, any disagreement with that holding should have been settled by the orderly process of appellate review, not by purposeful disobedience of an order rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction. Under these circumstances, to permit by an appeal of the contempt citation an attack upon the basic order that was violated would undermine respect for legal process. Thus, the district court had jurisdiction to enter its orders in this case, at least jurisdiction sufficient to uphold an order of civil contempt.

At oral argument and in supplemental briefs, it was suggested that the district court's non-compliance with F.R.Civ.P. 58 may require reversal in this case. That rule states in part: "Every judgment shall be set forth on a separate document. A judgment is effective only when so set forth. . . ." Here, the district court entered a temporary restraining order and later continued it orally as a preliminary injunction. Since the temporary restraining order had expired by its own terms when the preliminary injunction was granted, if defendant violated anything, it must have been the preliminary injunction. It was contended at oral ...


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