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APPLE STORAGE CO. v. CONSUMERS EDUCATION AND PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION ET AL. (01/07/71)

decided: January 7, 1971.

APPLE STORAGE CO., INC.
v.
CONSUMERS EDUCATION AND PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeals from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, June T., 1970, No. 1454, in case of Apple Storage Co., Inc. v. Consumers Education and Protective Association et al.

COUNSEL

Harold I. Goodman, with him Joel G. Weisberg, David A. Scholl, Peter W. Brown and Harvey N. Schmidt, for appellants.

No oral argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Justice Jones joins in this concurring opinion.

Author: Roberts

[ 441 Pa. Page 311]

We are here presented with a disregard of our previous decisions concerning the issuance of ex parte injunctions in situations where First Amendment rights are involved.

Appellants are an unincorporated Pennsylvania association known as the Consumers Education and Protective Association (CEPA), and some of the present and former members of that association. CEPA has a predominantly low-income membership dedicated to the education and peaceful protection of the consumers in the greater Philadelphia area.

This action arose when a Mrs. Theresa Gilliam came to CEPA with a consumer grievance. Mrs. Gilliam allegedly*fn1

[ 441 Pa. Page 312]

    had placed a number of household goods and family heirlooms in storage with appellee in 1966 at a cost to her of over $800. When she requested delivery of these goods in January, 1970, she was informed that some of them were missing. Appellee, admitting its liability, offered to pay $35 for the loss, while Mrs. Gilliam claimed they were worth $875. CEPA failed in its efforts to negotiate a settlement with the storage company. As a last resort, CEPA began to picket appellee's business premises in a peaceful manner. No disruption or disturbance occurred, and appellants left all entrances and exits unimpeded. Some members of the Philadelphia police force were present at CEPA's request.

Appellee filed a complaint in equity on June 5, 1970, seeking to restrain the picketing, without informing appellants or appellants' counsel. Three days elapsed between the filing of the complaint and the hearing on the requested relief, and still no notification was given to appellants, although several of CEPA's members were right outside the storage company's premises.

On June 8, 1970, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas issued an ex parte injunction, also without any attempt to advise appellants of that hearing, and setting June 12, 1970 as the date for a hearing on the preliminary injunction. No transcript exists of any testimony, nor is ...


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