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INTERNATIONAL UNION, UMW v. DISTRICT 50

May 19, 1969

International Union, United Mine Workers of America, Plaintiff,
v.
District 50, United Mine Workers of America, aka International Union of District 50, United Mine Workers of America, et al., Defendants


Holtzoff, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOLTZOFF

This is a joint trial of two actions that were consolidated for that purpose. In each action the plaintiff is International Union, United Mine Workers of America. It is a nationwide labor organization of coal miners, subdivided into numerous local unions, organized along geographical lines in regions in which coal mining is carried on. The defendant in each action is District 50, an organization of persons employed in gas, coke and chemical industries, which for many years was allied with the plaintiff, and which is likewise subdivided into local units.

 The first action is a simple suit on a promissory note, which originally was made for $8,440,000 in round figures. The balance claimed to be due on that note is $8,000,664.27. The second action is brought to enjoin the defendant from using the words "United Mine Workers of America" as part of its title, in view of the fact that the plaintiff has terminated the affiliation agreement between the two organizations. The affiliation agreement contained a provision giving either party the privilege of terminating it on 30 days' notice, which undeniably the plaintiff has given. Although on their face the two actions seem to be entirely separate and distinct, actually some of the issues in the two actions are intertwined and much of the evidence is applicable to both. Hence, it seemed in the interest of efficiency and of preventing a good deal of duplication that the two actions be consolidated for trial.

 We shall take up first the action on the promissory note given by the defendant to the plaintiff on February 26, 1962, on which some payments have been made, leaving the balance due as has just been stated. Execution of the note and failure to pay the balance due are not denied. The defenses interposed are fraud, duress, lack of consideration and an understanding that the note was a paper transaction and that it was not intended that the note should be actually enforced and paid. The first three of these defenses completely collapsed at the trial. Not an iota or scintilla of evidence was introduced even remotely tending to show any fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, or any physical, moral or business duress or pressure.

 What capped the climax as to these defenses was the testimony given on cross-examination by Angelo Cefalo, the Vice President of District 50, the defendant in these actions. He was one of the three executive officers who signed the note on its behalf. He gave the following answers on cross-examination (page 423 of the transcript):

 
Q. At the time you executed the Articles of Affiliation, the financial agreement and the promissory note on February 26, 1962, did you do this voluntarily or were you coerced into affixing your signature?
 
A. I did it voluntarily.
 
Q. Were you fraudulently persuaded to sign any of these three agreements on that specific date?
 
A. No, sir.
 
Q. Were you subjected to duress, coercion or restraint at the time you affixed your signature on these three documents?
 
A. No, sir.
 
Q. At the time you signed the documents on February 26, you had occasion to read or have these documents read to you, is that correct?
 
A. I so testified.

 As to the claim of lack of consideration, the evidence showed that the note was executed as the result of a compromise and settlement of a long standing obligation or indebtedness, that was reached as a result of negotiations. In order to understand the last contention, namely, that it was not intended that there was a real indebtedness between the parties or that the note was to be ...


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