National Labor Relations Board v. Deena Artware, Inc.

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Deena Artware, Inc.
LOCATION: Superior Court of Bibb County

DOCKET NO.: 46
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 361 US 398 (1960)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1959
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Deena Artware, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1959 (Part 1) in National Labor Relations Board v. Deena Artware, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1959 (Part 2) in National Labor Relations Board v. Deena Artware, Inc.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

-- (Inaudible) next to the (Inaudible) in which it ruled that it would not order discovery in the absence of a formal charge of contempt.

Having been told that, the Board undertook further investigation to the extent that this was possible without access to the books and records and testimony.

And it formulated a rather detailed contempt petition which appears at Record 3 to 13.

That petition for contempt is directed not only against Deena Artware, the company involved in the original unfair labor practice, but also against the parent company, Deena Products against various other subsidiaries of Deena Products to which Deena Artware's assets were ultimately transferred and against George Weiner, the President of all of these corporations and the controlling stockholder of the parent company.

This contempt petition, filed in August of 1958, was accompanied by a renewed motion for discovery.

The Court's final decision of December 1958 dismissed the contempt petition and denied the motion for discovery.

It's that judgment, of course, that's under review here.

Now, to prove (Inaudible) petition.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

No, dismissed on motion.

And the Court's opinion says that the 1952 decree of the Court enforcing the Board's original order was not sufficiently definite so far as restitution of back pay was concerned to support a contempt adjudication.

The reason the Court says is that the 19 -- the early -- original Board order left undetermined the exact amounts due each employee, merely ordered that each one of them be made whole.

Then the Court goes on to say that accordingly, there was no binding decree until the 1955 order of the Court which enforced the Board's supplemental decision position, but reasons the Court, between 1952 and 1955, Deena Artware, on the Board's own allegations, had completed the process with making itself judgment proof and after 1955 was unable to pay.

Charles E. Whittaker:

(Inaudible)

Ralph S. Spritzer:

That is correct.

Thus it seems to us, we've come full circle in this case.

The Board having first been told in 1953 when it diligently came in and sought to enjoin a partial assignment of assets that it was premature, and that it could always come back after the back pay obligation was liquidated if, in the meantime, Deena Artware had purposefully stripped itself of its assets.

It's told ultimately when it does come back with the petition for contempt on that very basis that at last it is now too late.

Where is that first (Inaudible)

Ralph S. Spritzer:

That appears in the Court's 1953 opinion which is setout beginning at page 51 of the appendix to the petitioner.

I'm looking for the precise language that I referred to.

Page 56.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Yes, beginning about two thirds of the way down on 56.

It will be time enough, the sentence begins, to rule on any question of contempt when the order becomes liquidated and final.

If at that time any financial inability to pay the award as shown to be the result of improper actions on its part in the meantime appropriate contempt action can then be taken.

Our -- our position in relation to the Court of Appeals' latest opinion can be summed up very simply, I think.

We agree with the Court of Appeals that its 1952 decree, directing the company to make restitution to the named employees did not impose a present obligation to pay specific sums.

Certainly, it was contemplated that the Board, in accordance with its usual practice, would exercise its continuing jurisdiction and that it would conduct such supplemental proceedings as might be necessary failing agreements between the parties to determine the exact amounts due.

(Inaudible)

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Yes, sir.

(Inaudible)