The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marovitz, District Judge.
Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment
Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction
This action arises from the refusal of the defendants, the
Chicago Tribune Co. (Tribune), the Chicago American Publishing
Co. (American), and Field Enterprises, Inc. (Field), to
publish in their respective newspapers an advertisement
submitted by the plaintiff, Chicago Joint Board, Amalgamated
Clothing Workers of America, AFL-CIO (Union). The plaintiff is
seeking both injunctive relief and compensatory and exemplary
Plaintiff is a national labor union with numerous local
unions in the Chicagoland area. Defendant Tribune is the owner
and publisher of a major Chicago newspaper, the Chicago
Tribune. Defendant American, which owns and publishes another
major Chicago newspaper, Chicago Today, is a wholly owned
subsidiary of defendant Tribune. Field is the owner and
publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News,
two other major metropolitan dailies.
Union is currently involved in a dispute with Marshall Field
& Co., the owner and operator of Chicago's largest retail
department store, regarding the sale of imported men's and
boys' clothing. Marshall Field & Co. is a leading Chicagoland
outlet for imported clothing. It is Union's position that the
unrestricted sale of imported men's and boys' clothing will
eliminate jobs for American workers manufacturing such
clothing, that such a result would impose a hardship on those
workers specifically and the American public generally, and
that, consequently, retail outlets of foreign made clothing
should refrain from the purchase and resale of such goods and
the public should not buy them until such time as the
exporting nations voluntarily agree to quotas on the amount
of clothing to be sent into the United States.
During the course of this dispute, which continues at this
time, Union prepared and submitted to defendants an
advertisement for publication in their respective newspapers.
The ad explained why plaintiff was picketing Marshall Field &
Co. and set forth Union's position on the sale of imported
men's and boys' clothing. All four major metropolitan
newspapers refused to publish the ad.
In Count I of its complaint, Union contends that defendants
are quasi-public entities whose refusal to publish is a
violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights to free speech
and equal protection. Count II alleges that defendants'
refusal to publish Union's ad constitutes a breach of
contract, which contract arises from plaintiff's acceptance of
an alleged standing offer by the defendants to print any
lawful advertisement. Count III alleges that plaintiff
justifiably relied to their detriment on representations by
the defendants to the effect that they would publish any
lawful advertisement. In its prayer for relief, Union asks
that the defendants be permanently enjoined from refusing to
publish the submitted ad, that during the pendency of this
action similar equitable relief be afforded, or that
defendants be enjoined from publishing any advertisement of
Marshall Field & Co. for or including imported men's or boys'
clothing. Union also seeks $1,000 in compensatory damages and
$5,000 in exemplary damages.
Presently before the court are plaintiff's motion for a
preliminary injunction and defendants' motions for summary
judgment. The motion for preliminary injunction seeks the
equitable relief found in the prayer of plaintiff's complaint.
Field's motion for summary judgment contends that the
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. In addition to this contention, the other defendants,
in their motion for summary judgment, contend that this court
lacks federal jurisdiction and that the granting of requested
relief would violate defendants' rights to freedom of the
press and free speech under the federal and state
Initially, we note that summary judgment is appropriate
where, as here, there are no material factual issues in
dispute and only legal issues need be resolved. Silverstein v.
United States, 293 F. Supp. 1106, 1110 (N.D.Ill. 1968).
Counts II and III, which are based on contractual or
quasi-contractual theories, have not been supported by any
discussion in plaintiff's brief and may be dismissed easily.
Under general contract theory, the presumption is that general
advertising aimed at the public is not an offer to enter a
"Neither the advertiser nor the reader of his
notice understands that the latter is empowered
to close the deal without further expression by
the former. Such advertisements are understood to
be mere requests to consider and examine and
negotiate; and no one can reasonably regard them
otherwise unless the circumstances are
exceptional and the words used are very plain and
clear." 1 Corbin, Contracts § 25, at 75 (1963).
Cf. Wall v. World Publishing Co., 263 P.2d 1010, 1012 (Okla.
1953) (absent express promise, invitation by newspaper to
readers to write letters on matters of public interest is not
offer to publish all letters received in response).
None of the defendants has explicitly extended an offer to
the general public to publish any lawful advertisement which
is submitted for publication by a party who is willing and
able to pay the standard advertising rate, nor has any
defendant so represented that such a policy exists. In plain
and clear words, each has reserved the right to reject any
advertisement. See The Chicago Tribune Advertising
Acceptability Guide, p. 3, submitted as Exhibit B to
Complaint; "General Advertising Rates: Chicago Tribune,
Chicago Today," (p. 12) submitted as Exhibit A to Affidavit,
¶ 3, of Mr. Charles B. Jordan; Affidavit of Mr. Howell Jones,
p. 2. Parenthetically, the Tribune guidelines discuss the
newspaper's concern with honesty, taste and effectiveness, and
indicate that the newspaper will exclude material which, for
instance, it feels is misleading, unfair, indecent or illegal.
At this time, we need make no evaluation as to the
reasonableness of this policy. ...