LINER V. JAFCO, INC., 375 U. S. 301 (1964)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Liner v. Jafco, Inc., 375 U.S. 301 (1964)

Liner v. Jafco, Inc.

No. 43

Argued November 21, 1963

Decided January 6, 1964

75 U.S. 301


The Chattanooga Building Trades Council comprises numerous building trades unions, including the Hod-Carriers Union and its Local 846, two of the petitioners. Respondent Rea Construction Co., a large North Carolina building contractor, was engaged by respondent Jafco, Inc., as general contractor to erect a shopping center on a site in Tennessee. Rea operated an open shop, and workers on the project were paid lower wages than the union scale. The Council authorized the Hod-Carriers to place a picket at the site in protest, and petitioner Liner began peaceful picketing, whereupon construction workers on the job promptly ceased work. On the same day, Jafco sought an ex parte injunction from a Tennessee state court, which ordered the injunction to issue upon the execution and filing of an injunction bond. The next day, Jafco filed a bond to indemnify petitioners in damages if the injunction was "wrongfully" sued out. Petitioners' motion in the state court to dissolve the injunction was denied, the injunction was made permanent by a final decree, and, on appeal, the decree was affirmed. Pending decision on the appeal, construction at the site was completed. The State Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Held: the issuance of the injunction was beyond the power of the Tennessee courts, and the judgment is reversed. Pp. 375 U. S. 304-310.

(a) This Court is not bound by the state appellate court's holding that this case was rendered moot by the completion of construction, since, in this case, the question of mootness is itself a question of federal law upon which this Court must pronounce final judgment. P. 375 U. S. 304.

(b) The petitioners plainly have a substantial stake in the judgment, deriving from the respondent's undertaking in the injunction bond, which survives the completion of construction. P. 375 U. S. 305.

(c) Since a holding of mootness would frustrate national labor policy and encourage interference with the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board, the Court should be astute to avoid hindrances in the way of reviewing the state court's adverse decision on the claim of federal preemption. Pp. 375 U. S. 306-308.

(d) Whether the facts showed a "labor dispute" within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. §152(9) is at least arguable, wherefore the

Page 375 U. S. 302

state courts had no jurisdiction to issue an injunction or to adjudicate the controversy, which lay within the exclusive powers of the National Labor Relations Board. Pp. 375 U. S. 309-310.

Reversed and remanded.

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