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WIRTZ v. CASCADE EMPLOYER'S ASSN.

July 2, 1963

W. Willard WIRTZ, Secretary of Labor, Plaintiff,
v.
CASCADE EMPLOYER'S ASSOCIATION, INC., OF the PACIFIC NORTHWEST, et al., Defendants. W. Willard WIRTZ, Secretary of Labor, Plaintiff, v. HARVEY ALUMINUM (INCORPORATED), et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: YOUNGDAHL

Similar motions in the two above-entitled cases raise important questions concerning where the Government must bring a civil suit seeking compliance with certain filing provisions of Title II of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, Pub.L. 86-257, 73 Stat. 519 et seq. (1959), 29 U.S.C. §§ 401-531 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Plaintiff is the Secretary of Labor. Defendant Cascade is an Oregon corporation having its registered office in Oregon; defendant Harvey Aluminum is a California corporation having its principal place of business in California, and engages in production and manufacturing in California and Oregon. Plaintiff alleges that both are 'employers' within the meaning of sections 3(e) and 203(b) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 402(e), 433(b), and that both have failed to file reports required by 29 U.S.C. § 433(b). Plaintiff seeks compliance with such filing requirements. Defendants have moved to quash the service of the summons and complaint on the ground that nationwide service of process is not contemplated under the statute, and have moved to dismiss the actions on the ground that venue does not lie in the District of Columbia. The Court need not reach the issue of nationwide service of process, because the Court has concluded that venue does not lie in the District of Columbia.

The Secretary has alleged that jurisdiction of these actions is conferred upon the court by 29 U.S.C. § 440, which provides:

 'Whenever it shall appear that any person has violated or is about to violate any of the provisions of this subchapter, the Secretary may bring a civil action for such relief (including injunctions) as may be appropriate. Any such action may be brought in the district court of the United States where the violation occurred or, at the option of the parties, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.'

 The Secretary has conceded that these defendants have not consented to having the actions brought in the District of Columbia, and that such consent is necessary in order for the case to be brought here 'at the option of the parties.' This Court accepts such concession without independent consideration. The Secretary therefore relies, for venue, solely upon the following clause: 'Any such action may be brought in the district court of the United States where the violation occurred * * *.'

 In considering the nature of the 'violation' to which Congress refers in 29 U.S.C. § 440, it is agreed by both sides that the subchapter which the Secretary may thereby enforce is primarily a reporting statute. *fn1" § 431 requires a labor organization to file with the Secretary a copy of its constitution and bylaws, a report on how it conducts its internal affairs, and a detailed annual financial report. § 432 requires officers and employees of labor organizations to file annual reports about certain financial transactions. § 433 requires employers and others to file reports concerning certain payments made by them and certain agreements or arrangements entered into by them to persuade employees to exercise, not to exercise, or to exercise in a certain way their right to organize and bargain collectively. § 436 provides, to insure the effectiveness of the reporting requirements, that every person required to file a report shall retain for five years after such filing the records necessary to verify the report. These, in the main, are the reporting requirements. § 439 provides criminal penalties for willful violations, false statements, misrepresentations, and concealment or destruction of pertinent records. § 440 provides civil actions (including injunctions) for enforcement.

 The Secretary contends that since the instant actions charge a failure to file reports, and since § 433 of the Act directs that reports under this subchapter be filed 'with the Secretary (of Labor),' whose office is fixed at the District of Columbia by another statute, 5 U.S.C. § 611, therefore the violation 'occurred' in the District of Columbia, and venue properly lies here. The Secretary supports this result with the principle that 'where there is a violation of a statutory duty to perform an act, the place where the act had to be done fixes the situs of the violation for venue purposes.'

 However valid this principle may be, we are concerned here with a question of statutory interpretation: whether Congress, in this particular statute, intended that venue would lie in the District of Columbia for a civil action charging a failure to file reports and seeking an injunction requiring such filing.

 The language of § 440 strongly suggests that Congress did not so intend. Such a result would make the the District of Columbia by mutual consent) largely surplusage, and would require the statute, so far as failure to file is concerned, to be interpreted as if it read: 'Any such action may be brought in the District of Columbia, or, at the option of the parties, in the District of Columbia.' Such redundancy should not be easily attributed to Congress if another interpretation is possible. *fn2"

 The legislative history supports a more reasonable interpretation. When this section of the statute was reported out by the Senate committee, it read as follows:

 'Any such actions against a labor organization may be brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or in the district court or other court of the United States where the violation occurred.' S. 1555, 86th Cong.1st Sess. § 110(c) (1959).

 Subsequently, however, this language was amended on the floor of the Senate to read as follows:

 'Any such action against a labor organization may be brought in the district court or other court of the United States where the violation occurred or at the option of the parties in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.' 105 Cong. Rec. 6683-84 (1959).

 The reason for this amendment was stated by Senator Morse, its sponsor, as follows:

 'I think it is pretty important in this democracy of ours, the cost of litigation being what it is and the cost of travel being what it is, that it be provided in the bill that a case should be tried in the district where the violation took place, rather than say, 'We will bring ...


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