procuring of the release. In connection with the McCarthy case, attention may be called to the Weathers case already noted (p. 282), in which the Supreme Court of Kansas held that where there was inadequate consideration and a mutual mistake of fact, the release was not binding.

Somewhat more technical was the point involved in a case before the Appellate Court of Indiana (Union Sanitary Mfg. Co. v. Davis, p. 278). Davis had been awarded compensation, and the employer appealed, whereupon Davis sought to secure a dismissal of the appeal, since no motion for a new trial had been made, as in ordinary civil suits. The court ruled that such procedure was not necessary in the case at hand, especially as there had been a review of the award by the full board, so that the parties had had opportunity for presenting all questions.


A statute of Massachusetts provides that where a loss occurs under a contract of liability insurance, the company is directly and absolutely liable without regard to whether or not the insured person makes settlement with the injured person. In Lorando v. Gethro (p. 107), the supreme court of the State upheld the law as constitutional, and affirmed the right of the injured person to have the insurance money applied directly to the satisfaction of the judgment in his favor. A quite similar point was involved in Verducci v. Casualty Co. of America (p. 108), a judgment having been secured against employers that were insolvent. The company admitted that they were insurers of the employers, but contended that the policy was only for the benefit of the insured firm in case payments had been made by it. The Supreme Court of Ohio held that such a stipulation. was inconsistent with the law of the State, and that it was void; judgment was therefore entered for the employee. Another point that arose under the law of this State was as to the writing of insurance by stock companies to indemnify an employer for the result of his own negligence or that of his agents. Such insurance was forbidden by the law, and a company writing insurance of the prohibited nature was ordered to conform with the law or cease operations in the State (State ex rel. Turner v. Employers' Liability Assurance Corp. (Ltd.), p. 293).

Not involving the matter of employers' liability insurance, but noted here as a matter of interest, is case of brotherhood insurance of a trainman who became affected with color blindness and was, as a consequence, discharged from his employment (Routt v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, p. 68). The policy provided for benefits as for total and permanent disability where there was complete

and permanent loss of sight of both eyes. The Supreme Court of Nebraska held that there had been such loss of sight for the purpose of the employee's vocation, so that he was entitled to full benefits under the insurance contract.

Another case involved the question of accident insurance, the Supreme Court of Illinois declaring that the sunstroke of a traffic policeman, compelled to stand on the streets on a very hot day, entitled him to benefits as for bodily injury sustained "solely through accidental means," reversing the lower courts, which had denied the benefits of the policy (Higgins v. Midland Casualty Co., p. 120).


Public employees.-The first case to be noted under this head is one involving the right of a policeman receiving benefits from a pension fund for the maintenance of which deductions had been regularly made from his wages, to continue to receive such benefits after an award of compensation under the Iowa law (Dickey v. Jackson, p. 184). The decision of the city officials in refusing to make pension payments was annulled by the courts, the supreme court of the State aflirming this action on the ground that the rule against double pensions did not apply. A later amendment makes the compensation law inapplicable where city employees are entitled to pensions under local regulations.

The application of an Illinois statute directing the establishment of pension funds for employees of counties was passed upon by the supreme court of that State in Helliwell v. Sweitzer (p. 183). Contributions to the fund had been contested by some of the employees of Cook County, and the act was held void by a county court as to all officers and employees provided for. The supreme court, however, distinguished between employees whose salaries were governed by county regulations and those over whom the legislature had direct authority, holding the law valid and applicable as to the latter only.

Mothers' pensions.—As a form of outdoor relief presenting an industrial aspect, in that it is restricted to benefits where there are children under the working age, the subject of mothers' pensions has been included as in some degree a labor proposition. The constitutionality of the Utah statute was sustained by the supreme court of the State (Denver & R. G. R. Co. v. Grand County, p. 180), over the contention that the tax for the maintenance of such a pension is not a public purpose. The benefits of the law were held to warrant its enactment, and a second contention that the legislature could not devolve upon the county commissioners the right of levying the necessary tax was also rejected, and the law sustained in all its parts.

The continuance of payments under an amended form of the

law was passed upon by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (Commonwealth ex rel. Trustees of Mothers' Assistance Fund of Philadelphia County v. Powell, p. 181). An act of 1913 authorized pension payments to abandoned mothers among others, while in 1915 the law was made to apply only to those whose husbands are dead or permanently confined in institutions for the insane. The court refused to indulge in the presumption of death in a case where the father had disappeared in 1906 and had not been heard from since, and overruled the trustees and the lower courts, which had adopted the view that an unexplained absence for more than seven years raised a valid presumption of death.

Old-age pensions.-The New Hampshire Legislature sought the advice of the supreme court of the State on the constitutionality of a proposed measure for the payment of old-age pensions (In re Opinion of the Justices, p. 182). While the opinion turns largely on the somewhat unusual provisions of the constitution, it is of interest to note that these provisions limit the grant of pensions to those for actual services, and for not more than one year at a time. The court held that there was no means by which the legislature could circumvent the limitations by means of valid act.


The single case noted here is one of unusual interest, the decision having been rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States, four of the nine Justices dissenting (Adams v. Tanner, p. 108). The question before the court was as to the constitutionality of an initiated law of the State of Washington, forbidding employment offices to take fees from workmen for securing positions for them. The act was held to be unconstitutional as interfering unjustifiably with a legitimate business in violation of the provisions of the fourteenth amendment to the Federal Constitution. Interesting dissenting opinions were prepared, contending that the law should be sustained as a declaration of the public policy, in view of demonstrated evils involved in the existing system.



While the rights of members as such are usually determined by the constitution and by-laws of the organizations themselves, the courts may find occasion to intervene where there is a failure to comply with these provisions, or where they are inadequate, or where malice is shown. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island (Fales v. Musicians' Protective Union, p. 139) found that the proceedings of the local in its trial of the complainant had not been in good faith or in legal

form, and declared them void,, saying that in such case an injured party need not exhaust his remedy by appeal within the society. Where, however, it appears that there has been an adequate observance of the regulations and the hearing and procedure have been free from fraud and duress, the courts will not intervene to compel the reinstatement of an expelled member (Pratt v. Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees, p. 144).

The Supreme Court of Georgia found that a member who had been fined on the ground that he had preferred unfounded charges against a fellow member had been unable to make his defense because of the intimidation of the witnesses. He was not present at the time this action was taken, nor had he been notified of the intention to consider his case. The court therefore ordered that he be given the privileges of the union pending a proper trial (Holmes v. Brown, p. 175).

It may happen that a member of a union is expelled in accordance with its constitution, so that the expulsion is not reviewable by the courts, but a right to damages will still remain if the union proceeds maliciously to prevent the expelled member from securing other employment. The action of the union in interfering with the member's securing other employment in the case in hand was found to be not to serve the economic interests of the association, but to preserve discipline in their own ranks by punishing him for leaving and becoming a member of a rival organization (Shinsky v. Tracey, p. 142). The Supreme Court of Massachusetts therefore affirmed an assessment of damages made by a master.

A protracted battle has been fought in the case St. Louis Southwestern Ry. Co. v. Thompson (p. 141), it having been at least four times before the Appellate and Supreme Courts of Texas in the more than 10 years during which it has been contested. The present hearing was on an appeal from an award of damages against the railroad company which had caused him to be expelled from a brotherhood and against the brotherhood for its action in expelling wrongfully and not in good faith. The judgment was affirmed and the contention that an excess of damages had been awarded was rejected, since a previous decision had been made that a larger verdict was not excessive.


The Supreme Court of the United States had before it a case (Paine Lumber Co. (Ltd.) v. Neal, p. 176), alleging a conspiracy of a labor organization to prevent the sale in interstate commerce of goods manufactured by the complaining company. A district court and a court of appeals had refused to award the injunction prayed for, and the Supreme Court took the same view, four justices dis

senting. The conclusion was based principally on the finding that there was no malice toward the plaintiffs; nor had they been caused any special damage warranting an injunction. It was held that if there was in fact restraint of trade in violation of the so-called Sherman Antitrust Act a private person could not bring suit for an injunction thereunder; reference was also made to the position taken by the New York courts in regard to the issuance of injunctions as set forth in its opinion in the Cumming case (170 N. Y. 315).

Quite similar was the position of the Supreme Court of Minnesota in regard to a dispute between a builder and contractor of St. Paul and the local building-trades council (George J. Grant Construction Co. v. Building Trades Council, p. 131). The injunction sought was not so much to restrain designated acts as unlawful, but what was termed "organized economic oppression," the contest being over the right and liberty of the employer to maintain an open shop. It was held that the employer was entirely within his rights in so doing, but also that the members of the union might not only refuse to work in an open shop, no contract being involved, but might also agree not to work for any subcontractor on any part of the work, even though he employs only union men. On rehearing in this case the question of restraint of trade was pressed, and, while it was admitted that the acts of members of labor-unions might be such as to violate the State law on the subject, there was nothing shown to indicate that such action had yet been taken by the union in question. It was added that the statute in question was not intended to require unwilling rendition of service during the pendency of the dispute.


Several cases were noted in which employers or business managers sought protection against the acts of organized labor which tended to interfere with the conduct of their establishments. The most important of these was passed upon by the Supreme Court of the United States, involving the right of a labor organization to seek to unionize a plant against the owners' wishes (Hitchman Coal & Coke Co. v. Mitchell, p. 145). In this case the mine in question was being conducted as a nonunion mine, all workmen therein being under contract not to become members of a labor organization so long as they remained in their present employment. A protracted contest due to efforts of the United Mine Workers to organize the mine led to an injunction restraining such activities, and the Supreme Court held, three justices dissenting, that the operators were entitled to the protection sought against what was determined to be an illegal interference with their rights. The right of an employer to the good will of its employees and to protection in enjoying a reasonable prospect

« ForrigeFortsett »