Plaintiffs, United Engineers & Constructors, Inc. and William C. Reppenhagen, Inc., instituted the present action pursuant to § 303
of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. § 187, seeking damages from the defendants, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, and Teamsters Local 676 (Union) for activity allegedly in violation of § 8(b)(4)(B)
of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4)(B), relating to secondary boycotts. Before the court is a motion by the plaintiffs for partial summary judgment on Count II of the complaint pursuant to Rule 56(a), Fed. R. Civ. P.
The facts of the present controversy are as follows:
Plaintiff contractors are constructing a Nuclear Generating Station in Salem, New Jersey, for the Public Service Electric and Gas Company. A work stoppage, arising out of a labor dispute between the defendants and Trap Rock Industries, occurred on June 22nd and 23rd, 1970.
In addition to the institution of the instant damage action, plaintiffs filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) contending that the Union had engaged in a secondary boycott in violation of § 8(b)(4)(B) of the NLRA. The NLRB found for the complainants in the administrative proceeding. Subsequently, the NLRB requested the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to hold the Union in contempt of an outstanding purgation order issued in 1965 which prohibited the defendants from engaging in precisely the same activity.
A hearing was conducted on January 15, 1971, in which both sides (the NLRB and the Union) produced extensive testimony. The Union was held in contempt for the work stoppages of June 22nd and 23rd, 1970 which, the court concluded, constituted a secondary boycott, as well as a willful violation of the outstanding purgation order. NLRB v. Truck Drivers & Helpers, Local Union 676, [66 LC P12,082] 450 F.2d 413 (3d Cir. 1971).
The sole issue presented here is whether the doctrine of collateral estoppel prevents the relitigation of issues determined in the Court of Appeals action.
Plaintiffs contend that the application of collateral estoppel is particularly appropriate in this case in that the facts of the instant action have previously been determined in a judicial proceeding rather than by an administrative board.
Defendants, on the other hand, argue that damage suits under § 303 are totally independent of any unfair labor practice action held before the NLRB. The Union contends that Congress intended to create parallel administrative and judicial remedies for certain conduct, despite the possibility of achieving conflicting results.
It should be noted that the context in which similar cases have arisen is the attempt by one side to apply the doctrine of res judicata to the administrative findings of the NLRB. There is a split of authority on the question, with the majority favoring application of the doctrine.
The appropriate standard for determining when res judicata should be applied to an administrative proceeding was established by the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Utah Construction and Mining Co., 384 U.S. 394, 422, 86 S. Ct. 1545, 16 L. Ed. 2d 642 (1966).
When an administrative agency is acting in a judicial capacity and resolves disputed issues of fact properly before it which the parties have had an adequate opportunity to litigate, the courts have not hesitated to apply res judicata to enforce repose.