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Myers v. Spohnholtz

APRIL 9, 1973.

GALE H. MYERS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

HARRY F. SPOHNHOLTZ ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DANIEL A. ROBERTS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GOLDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Harry F. Spohnholtz and George K. Gundersen (defendants) appeal from a judgment of $25,000 entered against them and in favor of Gale H. Myers (plaintiff) in a libel action tried before a jury. Before stating the respective contentions advanced by the parties, we will clarify one preliminary matter.

• 1, 2 Plaintiff's complaint, as originally filed and as amended, described the defendants individually and as president and vice-president "* * * of and on behalf of all members of Chicago Local No. 4-L Lithographers and Photoengravers International Union, an unincorporated association * * *." The answer of defendants to the second amended complaint described defendants in the same style. The verdict of the jury found the issues "in favor of the plaintiff and against both of the defendants." The judgment order referred to the defendants as such without further description. Defendants' post-trial motion referred to them without further designation. In the interest of propriety, we will consider that the judgment is entered solely against the defendants, as such, without further description or designation. This will be more appropriate and will conform to the law of this jurisdiction that an unincorporated voluntary association may not be sued in its associated name. (Boozer v. U.A.W. of America, 4 Ill. App.3d 611, 615, 279 N.E.2d 428.) The labor union mentioned in the complaint could not be sued in its own name for a money judgment as in the case at bar. (Murley v. Local Union No. 147 of Bro. of Painters, 133 Ill. App.2d 578, 273 N.E.2d 538.) All proceedings herein are, therefore, amended by striking out the name of the labor union, with the cause to proceed against the two defendants individually. Supreme Court Rule 366(a), 50 Ill.2d Rule 366(a).

On January 7, 1965, David Carr, President of Local 78-L in Miami, wrote to defendant Spohnholtz, then President of Local 4-L in Chicago. The letter advised that plaintiff had come into the area, wanted to join Local 78-L and had submitted an application. The application showed that he was expelled from Chicago Local 4-L in 1938. The letter requested any information that could be given concerning plaintiff, especially regarding his eligibility for membership in Local 78-L.

On January 21, 1965, defendant Spohnholtz responded by a letter to David Carr as follows:

"Mr. David Carr President, Local No. 78-L Lithographers & Photoengravers International Union 700 S.W. Second Avenue Hallandale, Florida

Re: Gale Meyers [sic]

Dear Brother Carr:

We have probably a greater record on Gale Meyers [sic] than appears formally on the records of the Local. To condense it, I am enclosing a copy of a letter sent to Don Biedenbach by George Gundersen of this Local in 1960 which spells out most of the record.

Meyers [sic] has popped up in a number of shops around town here — usually in a capacity where we could easily avoid taking him back into membership in the Union — and we have not taken him back since he was expelled originally in 1939.

I would certainly recommend that, since his ability to stay in one spot for any length of time is questionable, it may be best for your Local not to get involved with membership; however, use your own judgment.

Fraternally,

/s/ Harry F. Spohnholtz,

Harry F. Spohnholtz, President, Chicago Local No. 4-L, L.P.I.U."

As stated in this letter, there was contained therein a copy of a previous letter dated April 7, 1960, written by defendant Gundersen, addressed to the President of Local 11 in Rochester, New York, as follows:

"Mr. Donald Biedenbach, President A.L. of A. Local No. 11 511 N. Goodman ...


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