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NAVIOS CORP. v. NATIONAL MARITIME UNION

December 16, 1964

NAVIOS CORPORATION
v.
NATIONAL MARITIME UNION OF AMERICA et al. UNIVERSE TANKSHIPS, INC. v. NATIONAL MARITIME UNION OF AMERICA et al. CURTIS BAY TOWING COMPANY OF PENNSYLVANIA. v. NATIONAL MARITIME UNION OF AMERICA et al. P. F. MARTIN, INC. v. NATIONAL MARITIME UNION OF AMERICA et al. The PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY v. NATIONAL MARITIME UNION OF AMERICA et al. The PENNSYLVANIA TIDEWATER DOCK COMPANY v. NATIONAL MARITIME UNION OF AMERICA et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOOD

The defendant Unions, and their individual personal representatives, have filed motions for summary judgment in these consolidated actions. These motions controvert our statutory jurisdiction under Sections 301 and 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 185 and 187. Also under attack is our federal jurisdiction of certain common law actions, and various claims for punitive damages and counsel fees.

In limine we are confronted with a threshold procedural problem which may seem technical, but nevertheless must be resolved. A motion for summary judgment is improper when matters in abatement such as lack of jurisdiction are advanced. It is not a substitute for a motion to dismiss, because if the court lacks jurisdiction it cannot render a judgment, but must enter an order dismissing the action without prejudice. Thompson v. United States, 291 F.2d 67, 68 (10 Cir. 1961). 'But since the label attached to a motion is unimportant, a motion for summary judgment for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter may be treated and disposed of as a motion to dismiss.' 6 Moore's Fed.Prac. par. 56.03, p. 2027 (2 ed. 1953).

 Although lack of jurisdiction is the primary ground asserted in the motions, we have also considered, as a basis for our decision, whether or not certain of these actions state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On this latter theory several of our rulings operate on the merits.

 With the intention of making an orderly disposition of these motions, we will make a summary statement of the facts which will generally apply to all of the cases involved. Where necessary, such facts will be amplified in dealing with each individual action.

 STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

 From October 21, 1960, until March 15, 1961, the defendants engaged in picketing of the 'Ore Monarch,' a Liberian vessel owned by Universe Tankships, Inc. (Universe), a Liberian corporation, with its principal place of business in Bermuda. This foreign flag vessel was chartered by Navios Corporation (Navios), a Liberian corporation, with its principal place of business in Nassau, the British West Indies.

 The vessel in question was flying the Liberian flag and employed alien seamen when it arrived at Pier 122 in South Philadelphia with a load of iron ore from Venezuela.

 The ship was met by a picket boat bearing signs protesting the substandard wages and working conditions allegedly prevailing on the ship. These signs bore the legend of the defendant Union, International Maritime Workers Union (I.M.W.U.).

 In order to make their picketing more effective, officials of the I.M.W.U., N.M.U., Seafarers' International Union (S.I.U.) and the International Longshoremens' Association (I.L.A.) prevailed upon employees of the Pennsylvania Tidewater Dock Company (Tidewater) to refrain from unloading Universe and Navios ships. Pickets were posted at the boundary of Tidewater's property, and this prevented further unloading. This action thereby deprived the Pennsylvania Railroad Company (Railroad) of revenues it normally would have received from shipping the cargo after it was unloaded by Tidewater. The Railroad also owned the unloading facilities operated by Tidewater pursuant to a contract between the parties.

 The object of this labor activity was a concerted campaign on the part of N.M.U. and S.I.U. to organize the alien seamen employed by Universe and Navios. All of the plaintiffs seek damages from the defendants for the losses they sustained by reason of this picketing and interference with their business and contractual relationships with labor unions, customers, suppliers and others.

 Navios and Universe Actions, Civil Actions Nos. 29757-29758

 The Complaints in each of these two actions plead a claim under 303 of the L.M.R.A. as the source of the Court's jurisdiction. No other cause of action is asserted.

 Only the N.M.U.'s motion is directed at these foreign shipowners. The thrust of the motion is that both claims should be dismissed 'as the activities of foreign flag vessels are not in 'commerce" ...


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