Monday, November 17, 2008

Trial Court Erred in Determination Regarding Jurisdiction

We are satisfied that the trial court was in error in holding that the state court had concurrent jurisdiction with the National Board in entertaining the controversy. If that question was at all of uncertain solution at the time the present action was commenced it was made certain by the recent decisions of the Supreme Court in the Garmon, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and the Guss cases. It was held in those cases that in labor controversies affecting enterprises engaged in interstate commerce there is a conflict in injunctive relief which may be available under the National Act and that, available under the equity powers of the state court, and that in such a situation the federal law affords the exclusive remedy, thus depriving the state court of jurisdiction to issue injunctions.

The question of the power of the trial court to grant the injunctive relief awarded in this case is of vital importance. It goes to the jurisdiction of the court to proceed on that phase of the litigation. Apparently the status of the plaintiff's business, that is, whether it was engaged in interstate commerce and thus subject to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board pursuant to the Labor Management Relations Act, was not deemed of significance before the decision of this court establishing the constitutionality of the Jurisdictional Strike Act. The Labor Management Relations Act, however, as construed by the latest decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, above cited, would be applicable if the jurisdictional facts were developed. If alleged and proved they would deprive the trial court of jurisdiction to proceed by way of injunction. On the present state of the record it seems desirable to permit the defendants to amend their answer to allege and prove, if they are able to do so, that the plaintiff is engaged in interstate commerce.

As to the award of damages there is substantial evidence in support of the judgment in the amount specified.

The judgment is reversed insofar as it awards injunctive relief, and affirmed insofar as it awards damages to the plaintiffs, with costs to neither party.

See Statute of Frauds, and Court Addressed Scope of General Laws of the State.