Appeals by defendants and cross-appeal by plaintiff from a judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, Robert J. Ward, Judge, see 397 F. Supp. 659 (1975), in an action wherein plaintiff sought damages under the Landrum-Griffin Act and for malicious prosecution. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Before: FRIENDLY, MANSFIELD and MULLIGAN, Circuit Judges.
We have here a set of appeals by defendants and a limited cross-appeal by plaintiff in an action brought in the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiff Morrissey, a member of defendant National Maritime Union of America (NMU or the Union), obtained a modest award of compensatory damages and a large award of punitive damages against the Union and three individual defendants. The complaint stated two claims. One charged violations of § 101(a)(2) and (5) of the Landrum-Griffin Act, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2) and (5). The other was a pendent claim for malicious prosecution. The individual defendants were Joseph Curran, president of the Union; Shannon J. Wall, its secretary-treasurer; and Charles Snow, its chief security officer; claims against three other defendants were dismissed during trial with plaintiff's concurrence. The case was tried before Judge Ward and a jury.
The nature of the case and proceedings in the trial court are well described in Judge Ward's post-trial opinion, 397 F. Supp. 659, 663-64 (1975):
On July 1, 1971, Morrissey who had for years opposed the established Union leadership, was in the Union Hall in New York City, distributing pamphlets contesting Curran's policies as he had on several occasions during the preceding month. Curran was President of the Union, but on that day was in Boca Raton, Florida. The Master-at-Arms, James Nimmo, upon instructions from Snow, the Chief of Security, several times requested Morrissey to cease distributing pamphlets inside the Hall, pointing out to him a notice posted on the bulletin board in the Hall and advising him that his conduct was illegal. The notice, which was undated but was signed by Wall, then the Union's Secretary-Treasurer, read:
It is the established policy of the National Maritime Union that only official union publications may be distributed inside the Hiring Halls or other union offices. No solicitation is permitted inside any union buildings. Any persons attempting to solicit sales or distribute unauthorized literature inside NMU buildings will be asked to discontinue such practice and, in the event they fail to comply with such request, will be required to leave the premises. WHen Morrissey persisted in distributing his pamphlets and refused to leave the building, the police were called, as Snow had directed. After a brief meeting with Snow in his office, the police took Morrissey to the Sixth Precinct Station House, where, upon a complaint which Nimmo signed, he was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. Morrissey was allowed to leave within a short time but was summoned for arraignment July 13, 1971. At the arraignment the charge of disorderly conduct was dropped and the case set for trial on July 20, 1971. The trial judge, after a preliminary hearing at which no testimony was taken, summarily dismissed the charge of criminal trespass, finding no chargeable offense upon any set of facts which the State offered to prove. Counsel for the Union was present at that time.
Morrissey, in this civil action brought pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 412, claimed that the actions of the Union officials in prohibiting and preventing him from distributing the pamphlets in the Union Hall deprived him of his right under 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2) to meet and assemble freely with other Union members and to express his views, arguments and opinions; that their causing his arrest constituted improper disciplinary action in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5); and that the arrest and subsequent attempts to prosecute him constituted the common law tort of malicious prosecution. He sued for both compensatory and punitive damages.
The Court, using a special verdict form, submitted the question of liability and compensatory and punitive damages on the Landrum-Griffin Act claims and the malicious prosecution claim separately to the jury.
The jury returned a verdict as follows:
Landrum-Griffin Act: Compensatory damages: $500
Punitive Damages against the Union: $50,000
Malicious Prosecution: Compensatory damages: $3,000
Punitive Damages against the Union: $50,000
The judge refused to disturb this except by eliminating the award of punitive damages against the Union, 387 F. Supp. at 666-67, and also refused to grant a new trial.
We are confronted with a barrage of assaults by the defendants, some relating only to the Landrum-Griffin (LG) claim, some relating only to the malicious prosecution claim, and some relating to both. Plaintiff cross appeals from the judge's elimination of the punitive damage award against the Union. Since we have concluded that one of the defendants' points requires reversal of the judgment on the LG count for a new trial, we find it convenient to deal in the first instance with ...