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Werner v. International Ass'n of Machinists

AUGUST 20, 1956.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane county; the Hon. RUSSELL W. KEENEY, Judge, presiding. Orders and judgment affirmed.


On April 2, 1954 John J. Werner filed his verified complaint in the circuit court of Kane County against International Association of Machinists, a voluntary association or union; P.L. Siemiller, the general vice-president of this union; Local Lodge No. 1202 District 108 of said union; Nicholas Bury, president of said Local Lodge No. 1202; and V.J. Mazzacano, individually, and as an officer of said union and the highest officer of said Local No. 1202 and its representative in the Grand Lodge of said union. The defendants appeared and filed a verified motion to dismiss the complaint. This motion was heard on June 24, 1954 and taken under advisement. On July 1, 1954 an order was entered sustaining the motion of defendants to dismiss and granting leave to plaintiff to file an amended complaint within twenty days.

The record discloses that an amended complaint was filed on July 20, 1954, and on July 26, 1954 defendants filed a motion to expunge from the order of July 1, 1954 the portion thereof which granted leave to plaintiff to file an amended complaint in twenty days and to strike the amended complaint from the files. This motion was heard and sustained on the same day and an order entered striking the amended complaint from the files and directing the clerk to strike from his docket the portion of the order of July 1, 1954 which granted leave to the plaintiff to file an amended complaint in twenty days. On the same day, July 26, 1954, an order was entered reciting that plaintiff tendered, in open court, a complaint as amended, that plaintiff submitted a copy thereof to counsel for defendants and moved for leave to file the same. Subsequently this motion was heard and on October 11, 1954 an order was entered denying plaintiff leave to file the tendered amended complaint and rendered judgment dismissing plaintiff's complaint.

Thereafter and on October 19, 1954 notice was served on counsel for defendants that plaintiff would appear before the trial court on October 22, 1954 and move the court to reconsider this cause and upon such reconsideration, vacate the several orders entered on July 1, 1954, July 26, 1954, and October 11, 1954. In response to this motion, defendants moved to strike the same. On October 22, 1954 these motions were set for hearing for November 9, 1954. A hearing was had which was concluded on February 9, 1955 and the motions were, by the court, taken under advisement. On February 17, 1955 the court announced his decision in open court, overruling plaintiff's motion and entered an order continuing the cause for the preparation of a written order. This written order was entered by the trial court denying plaintiff's motion to vacate the previous orders and rendering judgment in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiff for costs on March 3, 1955. At this same time, the court fixed the amount of an appeal bond and on March 9, 1955 plaintiff filed his notice of appeal to the Supreme Court and on March 12, 1955 the appeal bond was filed.

By his notice of appeal, plaintiff sought to have the Supreme Court reverse (a) that portion of the order of July 1, 1954 dismissing plaintiff's complaint; (b) that portion of the order of July 26, 1954 striking plaintiff's amended complaint from the files and that portion of the same order which struck from the order of July 1, 1954 leave to file said amended complaint; (c) the order of October 11, 1954 dismissing plaintiff's complaint and denying him leave to file an amended complaint; and (d) the order of March 3, 1955 which denied plaintiff's motion to vacate the previous orders and rendered judgment against the plaintiff for costs.

In the Supreme Court, the defendants appeared and filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, or, in the alternative, to transfer this cause to this court. The Supreme Court, without opinion, transferred the cause to this court and on October 29, 1955 appellees filed their brief and argument in this court.

Counsel for defendant suggest that the order of October 11, 1954, denying plaintiff leave to file the tendered amended complaint, was a final judgment and this appeal should be dismissed, inasmuch as the notice of appeal was filed on March 9, 1955, which was more than ninety days after the entry of the order of October 11, 1954. There is no merit in this contention. The record discloses that on October 22, 1954 the plaintiff filed his motion to vacate and set aside the order of October 11, 1954. This motion of October 22, 1954 was heard and taken under advisement and not disposed of until March 3, 1955. The judgment of October 11, 1954 was therefore suspended until March 3, 1955 and the time in which to file a notice of appeal did not begin to run until the latter date. (Corwin v. Rheims, 390 Ill. 205, 216; Lenhart v. Miller, 375 Ill. 346, 351.)

The trial court held that the original complaint set forth insufficient facts to entitle the plaintiff to the relief which he sought. Thereafter, the plaintiff, in apt time, submitted his amended complaint to the court and to opposing counsel and sought leave to file it. The trial court examined it, held that when plaintiff became a member of the union he agreed to abide by all the rules and regulations of the organization and not having exhausted all his remedies within the union, his submitted amended complaint did not state a cause of action and denied plaintiff leave to file it. It is elementary that if a complaint does not state a cause of action, the court may dismiss it upon motion. (Deasey v. City of Chicago, 412 Ill. 151, 153, 154.) In our opinion, the sufficiency of the submitted amended complaint to state a cause of action is presented to this court by this appeal.

This amended complaint alleged that the defendant, International Association of Machinists, hereinafter referred to as "International," was a voluntary association of individuals with a total dues-paying membership in excess of 600,000 residing and employed throughout the United States, Canada, Hawaii, the Canal Zone and Alaska; that the territory serviced by International is divided into 157 districts with 1900 local lodges; that defendant, Local Lodge No. 1202, is a subordinate lodge of International and located in District 108, which has in excess of 2000 members with headquarters in Aurora, Illinois; that defendant, P.L. Siemiller, was the general vice-president of International and the titular head of District 108; that defendant, Nicholas Bury, was the president of Local No. 1202, and defendant, V.J. Mazzacano, was the highest ranking union official of Local No. 1202 and its representative to the Grand Lodge of International; that plaintiff had been associated with unionism for 25 years and had been a member in good standing of Local Lodge No. 1202 since September 1, 1942, attended meetings, paid his dues and had held many offices in said union during his years of membership therein.

The amended complaint then alleged that said union and its members are governed by a constitution and rules of order published in booklet form, a copy of which was attached to and made a part of the amended complaint. It was further alleged that at the time plaintiff filed his complaint, he was employed by Stoner Manufacturing Corporation of Aurora, Illinois, then affiliated with International; that on August 12, 1953 defendant, International, and the membership of Local Lodge No. 1202, were negotiating a contract with Stoner Manufacturing Corporation involving wages, hours and working conditions; that on August 12, 1953 a meeting of the employees of the Stoner company was held; that this meeting was in charge of and dominated by defendant, Mazzacano, who demanded that a vote be taken on the proposition of whether or not to strike; that plaintiff requested Mazzacano to conduct the meeting in accordance with the constitution and rules of the order, but Mazzacano refused to do so; that following the union meeting of August 12, 1953 the conduct of Mazzacano was generally discussed by the members of Local No. 1202 and a petition was circulated among and signed by forty members, directed to the president of District 108, requesting that defendant, Mazzacano, be informed his services were no longer desired and he be excused from further participation in the negotiations then going on; that plaintiff refused to sign this petition, but defendant, Mazzacano, became incensed at plaintiff because of his insistence at the meeting of August 12, 1953, that the constitution and rules of International be followed and Mazzacano then determined upon a plan and scheme to penalize the plaintiff and make an example of him before the membership and expel him therefrom.

It further appears, from the amended complaint and the exhibits attached thereto, that the plaintiff, on September 4, 1953, received a registered letter from the president of Local No. 1202, notifying him that charges "of improper conduct," violative of Section I of Article 24 of the constitution had been filed against him and notifying him to appear before a trial committee of Lodge 1202 on Tuesday, September 8, 1953, at 7:30 P.M. at District No. 108 office, 100 Main Street, Aurora, Illinois; that on September 8, 1953 plaintiff sent a registered letter to the president of Local No. 1202, requesting a copy of the charges filed against him and asking for a continuance of his trial. This request for a continuance was denied and the charges proceeded to a hearing before a trial committee, which, on September 8, 1953, found plaintiff guilty and recommended that he be expelled from the lodge. On September 16, 1953 the trial committee submitted its report and recommendation to the regular meeting of Lodge 1202 and, after hearing the report, the membership of the lodge who were present, 45 in number, voted by secret ballot, unanimously, that plaintiff was guilty as charged and that he should be expelled. Plaintiff was promptly advised of the results of the trial and informed that if he desired to appeal from the action of the lodge, his appeal should be directed to International President, A.J. Hayes, Machinists Building, Washington, D.C. and be taken within thirty days from September 10, 1953. Plaintiff did appeal and his appeal was received by the president of International on October 1, 1953, who advised plaintiff of that fact and that a transcript of the trial of plaintiff's case had been received and would be given careful consideration and a decision rendered according to Section 9 of Article K of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge.

It further appears that the president of International reviewed the record furnished to him on the appeal and concurred in the decision of the lodge and found plaintiff guilty of conduct unbecoming a member, but found the penalty of expulsion too severe and that penalty was set aside. Plaintiff, however, was directed to appear before the membership of Lodge 1202 at its December meeting to be openly reprimanded for his misconduct by the president of the Lodge and that he send a written apology to defendant, Mazzacano, and that a copy thereof be sent to the local lodge, to the general vice-president and to the president's office. The decision of the International president further provided that if the plaintiff failed to appear for reprimand and failed to submit an apology as directed, the financial secretary of the lodge was instructed to refuse to accept any further dues from plaintiff. Plaintiff was promptly notified of this decision.

Thereafter on December 8, 1953 plaintiff, by letter, requested the president of International to (a) reopen the case and permit him to defend the charges, or (b), that the Grand Lodge itself investigate the truth of the charges, or, (c) if neither of said requests be granted, that plaintiff be given such further appeal as was available. In this letter, plaintiff stated that he could not submit to an open reprimand when he had done no wrong, nor could he send a written apology to Mazzacano as he had "never attacked his character." Mr. Hayes, president of International, acknowledged receipt of this letter and advised plaintiff that his decision was based on the record and other pertinent information; that the record indicated that he had been served with adequate notice of his trial in the local lodge held on September 8, 1953 and, for that reason, his request that the hearing be reopened would be denied. The president of International treated the plaintiff's letter of December 8, 1953 as an appeal from his decision to the executive council as provided by the Grand Lodge constitution and that council reviewed the case and voted to sustain the decision of the International president and advised the plaintiff that the decision of the president becomes the decision of the executive council.

The amended complaint then alleged that by reason of said appeal of December 8, 1953, and the decision of the executive council as aforesaid, the plaintiff had exhausted his administrative remedies within the framework of the constitution and rules of order of International; that Article 24, Section 6 of said constitution and rules provides that appeals may be taken from the decision of the executive council to the Grand Lodge in convention or an appeal may be made to the membership at large of International through a referendum; that neither of said methods of appeal was reasonably open to the plaintiff for the reason that no Grand Lodge convention would occur until 1956 and that plaintiff ...

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