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RONALD AND FRANCES GAJKOWSKI v. INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD TEAMSTERS (09/28/88)

decided: September 28, 1988.

RONALD AND FRANCES GAJKOWSKI, ROBERT SCHIPSKE, AND WILLIAM AND JEAN ABATE, APPELLANTS,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA AND HIGHWAY TRUCK DRIVERS AND HELPERS LOCAL UNION NO. 107, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court, Entered at Nos. 02585, 02586 and 02587, Philadelphia, 1984, on January 28, 1986, Reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Entered at Nos. 80-6719-09-2, 80-6720-11-2, and 80-6721-12-2, on September 5, 1984. 350 Pa. Superior Ct. 285, Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ. Zappala, J., files a concurring opinion in which Nix, C.j., joins. Flaherty, J., files a dissenting opinion in which McDermott and Stout, JJ., join.

Author: Papadakos

[ 519 Pa. Page 323]

OPINION ANNOUNCING THE JUDGMENT OF THE COURT

When the case was first decided on the majority opinion of Mr. Justice Hutchinson, I was a member of the 4-3 majority which held the local union accountable in damages for serious injuries inflicted upon the plaintiffs on the strike line. I joined the opinion which coincided with my view of negligence law which provides protection to those injured from tortfeasors under basic common law principles.

The repeated requests for reconsideration eventually awakened me to the realization that the Hutchinson opinion was not merely an effort to recompense injured parties for their injuries (an effort I fully support) but, rather, intentional or not, the opinion was in effect a repudiation of legislative intent and a removal of the limited liability which the Pennsylvania Labor Anti-Injunction Act was intended to cloak labor unions with in furtherance of the legislative policy of protecting the labor movement.

Thus, I joined in the granting of the Petition for Reargument Nunc Pro Tunc, inspite of the fact that a Petition for Reargument had previously been denied and that this second petition was filed late.

The grant of the Petition for Reargument Nunc Pro Tunc should shock no one as being a flagrant or unusual disregard of the rules of this Court. This Court has acted often on late petitions, even sua sponte, to reconsider decisions and correct grievous errors that have far-reaching consequences.

Following the entry of an order or judgment disposing of an appeal, the general procedure is to permit applications for reargument for a fourteen day period. The time period is measured from the entry of the order or judgment

[ 519 Pa. Page 324]

    involved. See, Pa.R.A.P. 2542(a). There have been times, however, when the Court has entertained petitions filed after the expiration of the fourteen day period and for reasons of fairness has granted these petitions and ordered reargument.

In Winn v. TWA, 506 Pa. 138, 484 A.2d 392 (1984), the Court entered its initial decision on November 29, 1984. After the expiration of the fourteen day reargument period expired, an application for enlargement of time was filed (on December 17, 1984) and was granted by the Court on January 28, 1985. On January 30, 1985, an application for reargument was filed and granted on March 25, 1985.

In In re: Estate of Ciaffoni, 498 Pa. 267, 446 A.2d 225 (1982), the Court issued its initial decision on April 30, 1980, and denied reargument on June 16, 1980. (491 Pa. 46, 417 A.2d 1136 (1980.)) After a final judgment had been entered in the matter, the losing party returned to the trial court and filed a Motion for New Trial Nunc Pro Tunc. This motion was denied and a second appeal was filed with this Court. The Court treated the matter as a second application for reargument under Pa.R.A.P. 105(a) and granted the petition and remanded for a new trial.

In Commonwealth v. Blair, 470 Pa. 598, 369 A.2d 1153 (1977), the Court disposed of a direct appeal on October 3, 1975 (463 Pa. 383, 344 A.2d 884 (1975)), and one year later, on October 19, 1976, granted a petition for reargument nunc pro tunc.

In Luskey v. Steffron, Inc., 469 Pa. 377, 366 A.2d 223 (1976), the Court issued its initial opinion on April 17, 1975. After the time had expired for a petition for reargument (on May 15, 1975), the losing party filed a Petition for Clarification which was granted and the matter was reargued.

In Commonwealth v. Swanger, 453 Pa. 107, 307 A.2d 875 (1973), the Court filed an opinion on January 19, 1973 and denied a petition for reargument on February 23, 1973, and then sua sponte reconsidered its denial order and vacated same thereby granting reargument on March 22, 1973.

[ 519 Pa. Page 325]

In Dozer Agency, Inc. v. Rosenberg, 431 Pa. 321, 246 A.2d 330 (1968), the Court filed an opinion on March 22, 1966 and remanded for a re-evaluation of damages. A petition for reargument was timely filed and denied. "Sometime thereafter, this Court, sua sponte determined that reargument should be held limited to the question of the adequacy of the damages awarded by the court below and such reargument was held." Dozer, 431 Pa. at 323, 246 A.2d at 331 (1968).

For the reasons set forth below, I must repudiate my concurrence with the Hutchinson opinion, yet I cannot join with the theories supported by Mr. Chief Justice Nix and Mr. Justice Zappala. I believe that the original opinion and order dated August 31, 1987 should be withdrawn and judgment entered for the international and local union defendants.

Appellee, Highway Truck Drivers and Helpers Local Union No. 107 (Local 107) is an unincorporated association whose purpose as a labor organization is to represent employees in matters of collective bargaining with their respective employers throughout the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area. It is currently comprised of approximately 5,000 members on whose behalf it is signatory to more than 275 collective bargaining agreements with various employers throughout the Philadelphia Metropolitan area.

One of the employers with whom Local 107 has a collective bargaining agreement is the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Local 107 represents approximately 500 production and maintenance employees at that facility. On November 18, 1979, a majority of those employees voted by secret ballot to reject the Company's "final offer" for the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. Local 107 commenced a lawful economic strike on the following day against the Company in support of their positions.

For the next ten weeks, approximately 500 employees continuously maintained a peaceful picket line at the Company's facility for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On

[ 519 Pa. Page 326]

January 25, 1980, this peace was suddenly broken by the senseless shooting and maiming of two Local 107 members and a friendly security guard (Appellants herein), all of whom were at or near the picketing site. The assailant was one Robert Ballinger, a member of Local 107, who shot the victims with a .22 caliber revolver. Ballinger later pled nolo contendere to criminal charges arising from the incident.

As a result of that shooting incident, Appellants filed suit against Local 107 and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America (International) (IBT). The matter was tried before a jury in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in February and March of 1984. That jury returned a verdict in favor of Appellants and against Appellees, Local 107 and the International, jointly and severally, in the aggregate amount of 1.3 million dollars.

Local 107 and the International thereafter timely filed post-trial motions for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (judgment n.o.v.) or, in the alternative, for a new trial, or, in the alternative, for arrest of judgment.

On September 5, 1984, the Court of Common Pleas denied the post-trial motions filed by Local 107 and the International challenging the validity of the jury's verdict. In that same order, the court entered judgments against Local 107 and the International, jointly and severally, in the following amounts:

(a) $709,131.88 in favor of William Abate;

(b) $131,150.80 in favor of Jean Abate (for loss of consortium);

(c) $618,981.42 in favor of Ronald Gajkowski;

(d) $65,575.40 in favor of Frances Gajkowski (for loss of consortium);

(e) $12,590.46 in favor of Robert Schipske.

Thereafter, Local 107 and the International appealed to the Superior Court.

[ 519 Pa. Page 327]

On January 28, 1986, the Superior Court issued an opinion and order in which they reversed the decision of the trial court and directed that a judgment n.o.v. be entered in favor of both Local 107 and the International. Appellants, thereafter, filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal with this Court which was granted.

On August 31, 1987, this Court filed an opinion in this matter in which we reversed the decision of the Superior Court with regard to Local 107, but affirmed the Superior ...


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