The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON
In their latest motion, defendants, United Mine Workers and Trustees of the Anthracite Health and Welfare Fund, have moved, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 39(a)(2), to strike the plaintiff Pensioned Miners' demand for a jury trial.
The Union's principal contention is that this lawsuit is essentially an equitable one unknown to the common law; likewise, the Trustees maintain that the cause of action attempted to be asserted against them is one that is traditionally equitable and advance the additional reason that no jury trial should be held since no statute specifically confers such a right. The Pensioned Miners argue, on the other hand, that they are entitled to a jury trial under the various federal labor statutes pleaded in their Amended Complaint and also for the reason that they are seeking a money judgment.
"The sum of all this is that the present complaint misconceives the legal character of the wrong charged, incorrectly identifies the statutory basis of federal jurisdiction and seeks relief to which the plaintiffs are not entitled as against the defendant. Yet, the complaint discloses what may be a federal wrong and, conceivably, a basis for equitable relief or damages. Under Vaca v. Sipes, supra, damages might be recoverable if, as a result of defendant's alleged failure to insist on operator contributions, it is no longer possible to collect delinquent payments in full from all operators."
Plaintiffs were also directed to join the Trustees as necessary parties.
In their Amended Complaint the Pensioned Miners charged the Union with breaching its fiduciary duties, its duties as a labor union and its duty of fair representation by negligently or willfully or maliciously failing to cause all sums due and owing from the operators to be duly and lawfully collected, managed and distributed, and also by knowingly and willfully participating in the breaches of fiduciary duties by the Trustees. Recovery against the Trustees is bottomed on averments that they negligently or willfully or maliciously failed to collect all sums lawfully due and owing to the Fund and to manage the Fund according to law. Judgment is sought against the Union and in favor of the Fund in such total amount as shall be found to have been lost to the Fund by reason of the Union's failure to perform its duties or by reason of its participation in the Trustees' breaches of fiduciary duty and against the Trustees for their failure to perform their duties properly.
"The right to a jury trial in civil cases at common law is a basic and fundamental feature of our system of federal jurisprudence which is protected by the Seventh Amendment." Jacob v. City of New York, 315 U.S. 752, 62 S. Ct. 854, 86 L. Ed. 1166 (1942).
The Seventh Amendment preserves to litigants the right to jury trial in suits at common law "not merely suits, which the common law recognized among its old and settled proceedings, but suits in which legal rights were to be ascertained and determined, in contradistinction to those, where equitable rights alone were recognized, and equitable remedies were administered . . ." Parsons v. Bedford, Breedlove, & Robeson, 28 U.S. (3 Pet.) 433, 446, 7 L. Ed. 732 (1830). The Constitutional question depends on the nature of the issue to be tried rather than the character of the overall action. Ross v. Bernhard, 396 U.S. 531, 24 L. Ed. 2d 729, 90 S. Ct. 733 (1970).
Generally the remedies of a beneficiary against the Trustee are exclusively equitable. Local No. 92, International Ass'n of Bridge Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers, AFL-CIO v. Norris, 383 F.2d 735 (5th Cir. 1967). Restatement of Trusts, Second, § 197, comment b (1959), reads:
The relief sought here is for payment of money into the fund and not for payments immediately and unconditionally to the beneficiaries. See Dixon v. Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis, 297 F. Supp. 485 (D. Minn. 1969). It is to compel the Trustees to redress a breach of trust by refunding to the trust estate and is not converted into a legal action merely because the refunding is inevitably in dollars. See Local No. 92 v. Norris, supra. As such, it is an equitable proceeding to be tried to the Court and not to a jury. Furthermore, while plaintiffs' action against the Trustees is based on Section 302 of the Labor-Management Relations ...