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U.S. Supreme Court

Granny Goose Foods, Inc. v. Teamsters, 415 U.S. 423 (1974)

Granny Goose Foods, Inc. v. Teamsters

No. 72-1566

Argued January 8, 1974

Decided March 4, 1974

415 U.S. 423


Petitioner employers brought suit in California state court alleging that respondent Union was engaging in a strike in breach of collective bargaining agreements. The court issued a temporary restraining order on May 18, 1970. Two days later, the case was removed to federal court, and on June 4, the District Court denied the Union's motion to dissolve the restraining order. Strike activity then stopped, and the labor dispute remained dormant until the Union, after the petitioners had refused to bargain, resumed its strike on November 30, 1970. Two days later, the District Court, on petitioners' motion, held the Union in criminal contempt for violating the restraining order. The Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that the order had expired long before November 30, 1970, reasoning that, under both state law and Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 65(b), the order expired no later than June 7, 1970, 20 days after its issuance, and rejecting petitioners' contention that the life of the order was indefinitely prolonged by 28 U.S.C. § 1450 "until dissolved or modified by the district court."


1. Whether state law or Rule 65(b) is controlling, the restraining order expired long before the date of the alleged contempt, since, under the State Code of Civil Procedure, a temporary restraining order is returnable no later than 15 days from its date, 20 days if good cause is shown, and must be dissolved unless the party obtaining it proceeds to submit its case for a preliminary injunction, and similarly, under Rule 65(b), such an order must expire by its own terms within 10 days after entry, 20 days if good cause is shown. Pp. 415 U. S. 431-433.

Page 415 U. S. 424

2. Section 1450 was not intended to give state court injunctions greater effect after removal to federal court than they would have had if the case had remained in state court, and it should be construed in a manner consistent with the time limitations of Rule 65(b). Pp. 415 U. S. 434-440.

(a) Once a case has been removed to federal court, federal law, including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, controls the future course of proceedings, notwithstanding state court orders issued prior to removal. The underlying purpose of § 1450 (to ensure that no lapse in a state court temporary restraining order will occur simply by removing the case to federal court) and the policies reflected in the time limitations of Rule 65(b) (stringent restrictions on the availability of ex parte restraining orders) can be accommodated by applying the rule that such a state court pre-removal order remains in force after removal no longer than it would have remained in effect under state law, but in no event longer than the Rule 65(b) time limitations, measured from the date of removal. Pp. 415 U. S. 435-440.

(b) Accordingly, the order expired, by its terms, on May 30, 1970, under the 10-day limitation of Rule 65(b) applied from the date of removal; hence, no order was in effect on November 30, 1970, and the Union violated no order when it resumed its strike at that time. P. 415 U. S. 440.

3. The District Court's denial of the Union's motion to dissolve the restraining order did not effectively convert the order into a preliminary injunction of unlimited duration. Pp. 415 U. S. 440-445.

(a) That the Union may have had the opportunity to be heard on the merits of the preliminary injunction when it moved to dissolve the restraining order is not the controlling factor, since, under Rule 65(b), the burden was on petitioners to show that they were entitled to a preliminary injunction, not on the Union to show that they were not. Pp. 415 U. S. 142-443.

(b) Where a court intends to supplant a temporary restraining order, which, under Rule 65(b), expires by its own terms within 10 days of issuance, with a preliminary injunction of unlimited duration pending a final decision on the merits or further order of the court, it should issue an order clearly saying so, and where it has not done so, a party against whom a temporary restraining order has issued may reasonably assume that the order has expired within Rule 65(b)'s time limits. Here, since the only orders entered were a temporary restraining order and an order denying a motion to dissolve the temporary order, the Union had

Page 415 U. S. 425

no reason to believe that a preliminary injunction of unlimited duration had been issued. Pp. 415 U. S. 443-445.

472 F.2d 764, affirmed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, WHITE, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART and POWELL, JJ., joined, post, p. 415 U. S. 445.

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