Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

WOODWARD v. DIPALERMO

January 16, 1986

JAMES F. WOODWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL DIPALERMO, et al., Defendants. YELLOW BUS LINES, INC., et al., Plaintiffs, v. DRIVERS, CHAUFFEURS & HELPERS, LOCAL UNION 639, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FLANNERY

 THOMAS A. FLANNERY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 In this case, a jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs on three counts: malicious destruction of property, intentional interference with contractual relations, and abuse of process. In response to a special verdict form, the jury awarded damages of approximately $ 56,000 against defendant James Woodward and approximately $ 77,000 against defendant union. This matter now comes before the court on defendants' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or alternatively, for modification of the judgment or a new trial. Because the verdicts are obviously against the clear weight of the evidence on the counts alleging intentional interference with contractual relations and abuse of process, the court will set aside the jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs on those counts, and enter judgments notwithstanding the verdicts in favor of the defendants. On the count alleging malicious destruction of property, the court will modify the verdict.

 I. Background

 Plaintiff Yellow Bus Lines Inc. ("Yellow Bus") was a Virginia corporation located in the District of Columbia and engaged in providing bus service for schools. In November of 1981, some eight employees of Yellow Bus struck for recognition of defendant Drivers, Chauffeurs & Helpers Local Union 639 ("Local 639"). Defendant Woodward was the Local 639 representative who sought to organize the employees and to establish Local 639 as their collective bargaining representative.

 Though the company continued to operate throughout a four-day strike in November of 1981, plaintiffs contended that Local 639 and Woodward engaged in a systematic campaign to undermine the company. This was allegedly done during the strike by encouraging employees to commit various acts of vandalism and after the strike by instructing the employees to damage property and be late or absent. Plaintiffs alleged that Woodward threatened Yellow Bus managers that if Yellow Bus resisted unionization, then litigation and other tactics would be used to hurt Yellow Bus. The labor dispute continued after the strike, and in the summer of 1983, Yellow Bus discontinued most of its operations, alleging that defendants' activities caused its demise.

 Proceedings in this court were initiated on November 4, 1982, when Woodward filed a suit alleging false arrest against D.C. police officer Michael Dipalermo, the District of Columbia, and Yellow Bus. Plaintiffs counterclaimed with federal and state claims in April of 1983 against Woodward and Local 639. By October 1984, this court had dismissed all of the federal claims, but elected to retain jurisdiction over the state claims. In May of 1984, Woodward's claim for false arrest was settled with the District of Columbia and was dismissed against Yellow Bus on Woodward's motion to dismiss.

 Judgment notwithstanding the verdict should be entered when "the evidence, together with all inferences that can reasonably be drawn therefrom, is so one-sided that reasonable men could not disagree on the verdict." Coburn v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 229 U.S. App. D.C. 61, 711 F.2d 339, 342 (D.C. Cir. 1983). Of course, only when the probative facts are undisputed and reasonable minds can draw but one inference does the question become one of law for the court. Aylor v. Intercounty Constr. Corp., 127 U.S. App. D.C. 151, 381 F.2d 930, 934 (U.S. App. D.C. 1967). An additional element in the standard of review exists in this case: by federal law, no union, agent or member of a union shall be held liable in any court for the unlawful acts of individual officers or members except upon "clear proof of actual participation in, or actual authorization of, such acts. . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 106 (1982).

 The counts and the evidence supporting them are each discussed separately.

 II. Interference with Business Contract

 The largest portion of the jury's award (cumulatively $ 100,000) was based on a finding that defendants intentionally interfered with the 1982-83 contract between Yellow Bus and the Charles Smith Jewish Day School ("JDS"). In order to prevail on this claim, there must be clear proof of a specific intent to procure the breach of a specific contract thereby causing a specific and ascertainable injury. Tuxedo Contractors, Inc. v. Swindell-Dressler Co., 198 U.S. App. D.C. 426, 613 F.2d 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1979).

 The only specific contract mentioned at trial was between Yellow Bus and JDS, which was entered into in October of 1982. The Chairman of the JDS Transportation Committee, Howard Wilchins, testified without impeachment that JDS's difficulties with Yellow Bus occurred almost one year after the strike, after the contract was negotiated in October of 1982. Transcript, at 1507, 1508. It was in January of 1983 that JDS took action to curtail the contract because of Yellow Bus' poor service. Transcript, at 1509. But even then the contract continued. It was only when the president and route manager of Yellow Bus, Paula Westgate, informed JDS of Yellow Bus' financial problems with the IRS that Wilchins terminated the contract. Transcript, at 1511; Defendants' Exhibit 22.

 This court finds that there is no proof, clear or otherwise, of a causal connection between defendants' alleged conduct and the termination of the contract. The two reasons for termination of the contract were Yellow Bus' poor performance and its difficulty with the IRS. Transcript, at 921, 1513. Neither of these arose from defendants' activities. The plaintiffs also had to prove that defendants ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.