The opinion of the court was delivered by: GILES
GILES, J., District Judge.
Plaintiff has moved for a new trial asserting that the court erred in granting the defendants' motions for directed verdict on Counts I, II and IV of the complaint made pursuant to Rule 50(a), Fed. R. Civ. P. For the reasons which follow, plaintiff's motions are denied.
Raymond Maier, member in good standing of Local 107 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America ("Union"), sued the Union and its business agent, William Patterson. Patterson was sued in his official and individual capacities because in the course of a meeting on February 20, 1977, with some Union members who were disgruntled about their lay-off status, he became embroiled in a verbal exchange with plaintiff Maier. An altercation erupted between them. As a result of assault and battery by Patterson, Maier sustained personal injuries for which he sought recompense before a jury.
The lay-offs, including plaintiff's, had been effectuated in strict accord with the seniority and work reduction provisions of the collective bargaining agreement with the employer, Owens-Illinois. (Maier, N.T. 52). Maier asked Patterson about the possibility of jobs at a different company, the Lily Tulip Company, which apparently was using its own trucks for hauling purposes. Patterson replied that there was nothing he could do about it except that the Union had filed a grievance. (Maier, N.T. 14). He reiterated that there was nothing he could do. Maier then said to Patterson, "You don't do nothing for us, anyhow." Patterson responded, "You're nothing but a shit-stirrer, and I don't like you, anyhow." Maier retorted, "Screw you. I don't like you either." At that, allegedly, Patterson threw off his jacket and said, "I'll kill you, you little motherfucker." He then grabbed plaintiff by the head, thrusting him head-first into a closed window, breaking the glass and thereupon, commenced rubbing his neck across the broken glass remaining in the window. Other union members pulled Patterson away and rescued Maier from further assault, battery, and injury.
Maier never filed a grievance with the Union to complain of Patterson's conduct against him. Prior to and after the altercation, he experienced no bar to his full opportunity to participate in the meetings and affairs of the Union. Maier introduced no evidence that Patterson was predisposed to violence and that the Union knew or should have known of a propensity to use physical force in the course of his duties. Nor was there any evidence of knowledge on the part of the Union that the violence would occur or was likely to occur. Indeed, there was no evidence that Patterson, himself, had planned the altercation. The evidence only showed that an altercation ensued from personal words between Maier and Patterson.
Plaintiff introduced evidence that the Union had undertaken the representation of Patterson when he was sued in his official capacity and had not conducted its own internal investigation of the incident nor taken any disciplinary action against him. There was also evidence in plaintiff's case that he (1) had not pressed charges against Patterson through the Union; (2) had elected to have the FBI investigate the incident; and (3) that the FBI did investigate the matter and had communicated to the Union its decision not to recommend prosecution. See supra.
The court dismissed counts I, II and IV of the complaint, but permitted the issue of Patterson's personal responsibility under federal and state law to be decided by the jury. On this latter issue, a verdict was returned against Patterson and in favor of Maier, in the sum of $7,500, of which $4,500 were punitive damages and $3000 compensatory.
In granting the Union defendant's motions for directed verdict, the court rejected plaintiff's assertion that liability of a principal for the intentional torts of an agent can be based solely on respondeat superior. It further refused the assertion that the Union's representation of Patterson in his official capacity prior to trial constituted ratification of his conduct. The court agreed with the Union that there was no evidence the Union had authorized, directed or instigated Patterson to assault and batter Maier. Moreover, there was neither contention nor evidence that assault and battery was an expected method for Union business agents in carrying out the Union's business or in communicating with its membership. In granting defendant Patterson's motion, the court determined there was insufficient evidence to find that Patterson, in his official capacity, had violated plaintiff's rights under LMRDA.
Plaintiff raises two rather indistinguishable points to justify a new trial. He reasserts that Patterson was the agent for and acting on behalf of the Union at the time he assaulted and battered plaintiff, and that the Union thereafter ratified Patterson's conduct. Plaintiff further contends that there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could have inferred authorization or ratification.
On an appeal from the directed verdict in defendants' favor, the court must consider all of the evidence, but inferences from that evidence must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Denneny v. Siegel, 407 F.2d 433, 439 (3d Cir. ...