the DOL still has the opportunity to litigate this case on the merits, which it has assured the Court it will do vigorously. These actions, in this particular situation, where the DOL is faced with irreconcilable orders from two federal district courts, are convincing proof that the DOL has made good faith efforts to comply with this Court's Orders.
While a good faith analysis requires a close inquiry into the defendants actions, it is not the Court's role to examine every tactical decision made by the DOL in the current litigation. Such an inquiry would be likely to lead to a court's substituting its judgment, in hindsight, for that of the attorneys. While the plaintiffs and the Court may disagree with some of the DOL's decisions in this litigation, the record, when considered as a whole, reflects a good faith effort on the part of the DOL to comply with the letter and spirit of the NAACP II order. Therefore, the Court exercises its discretion and finds that the DOL is not in contempt of that Order.
For these reasons, the Court must deny the plaintiffs' Application for an Order to Show Cause against the DOL. In so doing, the Court is aware of the plaintiffs' concern that without the threat of sanctions, the DOL will not offer a zealous defense at the upcoming hearing on the merits. While the Court believes that the DOL will vigorously argue its case, it will allow the plaintiffs to reopen the contempt issue should evidence showing the DOL's lack of good faith arise.
The Court has the legal authority to issue an order to show cause against certain nonparty West Virginia growers, but practical considerations and principles of comity override bringing the parties before it at this time.
The Court finds itself on a path traveled once before. Two years ago, apple growers in the Western District of Virginia filed a suit similar to the one currently before the District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. In the previous case, the Virginia district court issued a TRO and scheduled the matter to be heard on its merits. This Court, upon application by the plaintiffs, entered a show cause order requiring the growers to appear and show cause why they should not be enjoined from further prosecuting their action in Virginia or litigating other actions inconsistent with this Court's rulings. Subsequently, this Court, with counsel for the plaintiffs and the government concurring, ordered the growers to terminate their litigation in the Western District of Virginia. The DOL's publication of an amended regulation in September 1983 and the subsequent litigation relating to this Court's Order suspending the amendment rendered the issue moot.
Plaintiffs now seek to have the Court enter an order against the Tri-County and Mount Level, which would require them to show cause why they should not pay all workers a minimum piece rate of fifty-two cents per box of apples picked,
and further, be enjoined from prosecuting their cause of action in the West Virginia district court. While the Court agrees with plaintiffs that it has the authority to issue the requested order to show cause, practical considerations and principles of comity give this Court reasons to deny the plaintiffs' application at this time.
Under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a) (1976), the Court " may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law." Id. (emphasis added). Thus, it is within this Court's inherent discretionary power to issue the order that plaintiffs have requested. Cf. SEC v. G. C. George Securities, Inc., 637 F.2d 685, 687 (9th Cir. 1981). Two pertinent questions the Court must consider in deciding whether to issue the order are whether it can subject the growers, as nonparties to the litigation that was before it, to the injunction requested by plaintiffs and whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over them. In short, the answer to both questions is "yes."
The case law provides support for this Court's interpretation that the All Writs Act grants the district courts the power to issue injunctions against certain nonparties. The Supreme Court in Washington v. Washington State Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Ass'n, 443 U.S. 658, 61 L. Ed. 2d 823, 99 S. Ct. 3055 (1979), held that the nonparty defendant-fishing associations were subject to an injunction the federal district court had issued to protect a series of its orders. Id. at 692 n.32. In United States v. Hall, 472 F.2d 261 (5th Cir. 1972), which the Supreme Court approvingly cited in Washington v. Washington State Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Ass'n, the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court's injunction against third parties preventing them from causing and abetting racial unrest in certain Jacksonville public schools which the court had ordered desegregated. Finally, this Circuit, in Environmental Defense Fund v. EPA, 158 U.S. App. D.C. 1, 485 F.2d 780 (D.C. Cir. 1973), issued an injunction preventing nonparty intervenors in an action before the federal district court for the Northern District of Mississippi from further prosecuting that suit because the issue was properly before Court of Appeals. While none of these cases are wholly on point with the one currently before the Court, they do support the proposition that the Court can use its inherent powers to protect its final decrees, especially when the nonparty's actions threaten the adjudicated public rights of a party to the litigation. Without a doubt, Tri-County and Mount Level's refusal to pay the fifty-two cent piece rate to its migrant farm workers is a direct violation of their rights as adjudicated by this Court. Thus, it is within this Court's discretion to order them to appear before it and, if need be, enjoin their activities.
The issue of the Court's personal jurisdiction over the nonparties was raised by the growers in 1983 when this Court issued show cause orders. As it was then, the law, today, is clear. Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 71, the nonparties can be served if they are within 100 miles of this courthouse. Plaintiffs' counsel represents to the Court that both growers are within that range. If they are not, jurisdiction is still proper under the precedent established by the Court of Appeals in Environmental Defense Fund v. EPA, 158 U.S. App. D.C. 1, 485 F.2d 780 (D.C. Cir. 1973), where, as was previously noted, nonparties in federal district court in Mississippi were enjoined from further prosecution by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Despite this Court's inherent power to grant relief against the West Virginia growers, principles of comity and practical considerations advise against such steps. The Court of Appeals for this circuit has stated, "Considerations of comity and orderly administration of justice dictate that two courts of equal authority should not hear the same case simultaneously." WMATA v. Ragonese, 199 U.S. App. D.C. 246, 617 F.2d 828, 830 (D.C. Cir. 1980). This reasoning is relevant to the present case in two respects. First, since a final judgment has been entered in the case before this Court, there is no simultaneous litigation in two co-equal tribunals. Furthermore, the case in West Virginia is not the same one as was before this Court. Second, bringing the apple growers, plaintiffs in the West Virginia litigation, before this Court and possibly entering an injunctive order against them would seem to violate the spirit of the Court of Appeals' reasoning in Ragonese. In essence, the growers would be asked to litigate in two federal courts simultaneously with the possible result that one court would enjoin them from continuing to litigate in the other. This puzzling situation would not be in the interests of the orderly administration of justice, and such use of the Court's powers should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances. See Bergh v. Washington, 535 F.2d 505, 507 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 921, 50 L. Ed. 2d 288, 97 S. Ct. 318 (1976).
The Court is mindful of the fact that a hearing on the merits before the district court in West Virginia is scheduled for this week. Moreover, that court has indicated to DOL's counsel that it anticipates resolving the matter by mid-October.
Given the realities of this schedule, the Court believes that its further involvement at this time would only serve to delay the fulfillment of the parties' rights. Because comity interests are advanced when "courts of coordinate ranks are respectful of each other's orders, as well as careful to avoid hindering each other's proceedings," Schauss v. Metals Depository Corp., 757 F.2d 649, 654 (5th Cir. 1985), this Court exercises its discretion and denies plaintiffs' application for a show cause order against the West Virginia apple growers.
The Court has before it plaintiffs' application for two Orders to Show Cause. For the reasons explained in the accompanying Opinion, the Court finds that the Department of Labor has made good faith efforts to comply with this Court's Order in NAACP II dated June 28, 1983. The Court further finds that while it has the authority to bring the nonparty West Virginia growers, Tri-County and Mount Level, before it and order then to show cause why they should not be directed to raise their piece rates immediately to fifty-two cents per box, and further, enjoined from prosecuting their causes of action in the Northern District of West Virginia, it is in the interests of comity and justice for all the parties involved that it deny the plaintiffs' application for this Order to Show Cause.
Accordingly, it is, by the Court, this 10th day of October, 1985, hereby
ORDERED that the plaintiffs' Application for two Orders to Show Cause be denied.