« ForrigeFortsett »
Counsel for Parties. 334 U. S.
which were not made in the courts below; and an adequate consideration of the problem would require consideration of three different acts of Congress, two of which were not properly before this Court on the record in this case. Held: Without intimating any conclusion on the merits, the judgments are vacated and the cause is remanded to the District Court for reconsideration and amplification of the record in the light of this Court's opinion and of present contentions. Pp. 251–257. (a) The hearing of contentions as to disputed facts, the sorting of documents to select relevant provisions, ascertain their ultimate form and meaning, the practical construction put on them by the parties, and reduction of a mass of conflicting contentions as to fact and inference from facts, is a task primarily for a trial court instead of this Court. P. 256. (b) Summary procedures under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, however salutary where issues are clear-cut and simple, present a treacherous record for deciding issues of farflung import, on which this Court should draw inferences with caution from complicated courses of legislation, contracting and practice. Pp. 256–257. (c) As a matter of good judicial administration, this Court will not attempt to decide these far-reaching issues on such a record presenting an indefinite factual foundation and involving such a welter of new contentions and statutory provisions, but will await the presentation of these issues on a record containing a more solid basis of findings based on litigation or on a comprehensive statement of agreed facts. P. 257. 164 F. 2d 1016, judgments vacated and cause remanded.
In an action by petitioners to recover overtime compensation claimed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the District Court first denied, 68 F. Supp. 576, but later granted, 70 F. Supp. 929, summary judgment for respondent. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. 164 F. 2d 1016. This Court granted certiorari. 333 U. S. 841. Judgments vacated and cause remanded, p. 257.
Leonard Lloyd Lockard argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioners.
William L. Varbury and Charles D. Egun argued the cause and filed a brief for respondent.
Briefs of amici curiae in support of petitioners were filed by Solicitor General Perlman and Robert L. Stern for the United States; and June P. TTooten.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affrmance were filed by J. R. L. Johnson, Jr. and Robert A. Fulviler, Jr. for the Hercules Powder Co.; Ernest S. Ballard, Frank F. Foule, Jr. and Charles R. Kaufman for E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.; and Grover T. Ovens and E. L. VcHaney, Jr.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case involves questions as to the application of the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act to certain persons who worked in a government-owned plant in which respondent produced munitions under a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with the War Department. It involves such subsidiary issues as whether the plaintiffs were employees of the Government or of the private contractor, whether munitions produced for shipment across state lines in war use are produced for "commerce"? and whether they are "goods" : within the meaning of the Act. Substantial claims of petitioners may be denied or large
1 Act of June 25, 1938, c. 676, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S. C. $ 201,
? The Act defines commerce as follows: "'Commerce' means trade, commerce, transportation, transmission, or communication among the several States or from any State to any place outside thereof."
3 The Act defines goods as follows: "Goods' means goods (including ships and marine equipment), wares, products, commodities, merchandise, or articles or subjects of commerce of any character, or any part or ingredient thereof, but does not include goods after their delivery into the actual physical possession of the ultimate consumer thereof other than a producer, manufacturer, or processor thereof."
Opinion of the Court.
sums added to the cost of the war by the answers to these questions, and many cases other than this will be controlled by its decision.
The manner in which the case has thus far developed raises the question whether as a matter of good judicial administration this Court should attempt to decide these far-reaching issues on this record.
No one questions that, taking its allegations at their face value, the complaint in this case states a cause of action under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Summary judgment has gone against the plaintiffs because, by affidavit and exhibits, the allegations have been found unsustainable. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure* "on the ground that defendant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” The motion, so far as the Fair Labor Standards Act was concerned, was based on an affidavit "which states facts showing that as a matter of law neither complainants nor defendant were covered” by the Act in that neither "were engaged in commerce, or in the production of goods for commerce.” Made part of the affidavit by reference were defendant's construction and operation contract with the Government and some 22 supplements or change orders covering nearly 200 pages of the record. The complainants then filed a supplemental complaint which added by reference all regulations and interpretative bulletins of the Department of Labor and Administrator of the Fair Labor Standards Act clarifying and explaining it. And, as against defendant's affidavit and exhibits, the plaintiffs,
* Rule 56 provides that the trial court may award summary judgment after motion, notice and hearing, provided the pleadings, depositions, admissions and affidavits on file show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Opinion of the Court.
as recited in the District Court's opinion, offered by reference affidavits of three former employees of the contractor showing the customs of payment and operation as bearing on the issue of whether they were government employees or those of the private contractor. The affidavits do not appear in the record, but parts deemed relevant are set out in the court's opinion.
On this basis the District Court first denied summary judgment. 68 F. Supp. 576. It was of the view that the plaintiffs, whatever the forms of the transaction, were in reality employed by the Government and, hence, the Fair Labor Standards Act by its own terms did not cover them. But it held that they were covered by $ 4 (b) of the Act of July 2, 1940," and were entitled to recover overtime under it.
On rehearing, the court concluded, however, that no remedy under this latter Act was available to them in this action as it was not pleaded. Accordingly, it granted summary judgment against them. 70 F. Supp. 929. The Circuit Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc affirmed. 164 F. 2d 1016. It held that the plaintiffs were in substance employees of the United States, that munitions were not a part of commerce within the meaning of the Act, and that in any event munitions were not "goods” within the meaning of the Act. One judge, concurring, did not pass on the question whether petitioners were employees of the Government but held only that munitions were produced for war, not for commerce. One judge dissented on the ground that the whole system "was designed and operated so that the United States should not be the employer" and considered that munitions produced for transportation to a place outside of the State were produced for commerce and those engaged therein
5 Act of July 2, 1940, c. 508, 54 Stat. 712.
Opinion of the Court.
were subject to the Act. The case is here on certiorari, 333 U. S. 841.
The Silas Mason Company, in a sense, is no more than a nominal defendant, for it is entitled to reimbursement from the Government. The Government, the ultimate party in interest, appears through the Department of Justice in support of the statutory basis for the claims against itself. But it advises us that “The Department of the Army is of the view that respondent's position has merit for the reasons set forth in the brief filed by respondent. The Army is concerned with the great cost to which the Government will be subjected if the numerous suits akin to this are lost, or even if it must bear the cost of defending them. Furthermore, the Army believes that the classes of employees involved in these cases were well paid, that they accepted their compensation without complaint or expectation of receiving more until this litigation was commenced sometime after the termination of their employment, and that accordingly there is little equity in the employees' present position."
Three Acts of Congress require consideration. The plaintiffs and the Government say the Fair Labor Standards Act is controlling. The defendant, the Department of the Army, which handled the transaction, and the District Court consider that the Act of July 2, 1940, controls the liability. But the trial court held it cannot be the basis of adjudication of plaintiffs' claims because no such issue was pleaded and that holding has become the law of the case since there has been no appeal. The plaintiffs pleaded their cause of action also under the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act, but it was held unavailable to them below and their petition for certiorari
6 Act of June 30, 1936, c. 881, 49 Stat. 2036, 41 U. S. C. § 35.