CHARLES D. BONANNO LINEN SERV. v. MCCARTHY

550 F. Supp. 231 (1982) | Cited 1 time | D. Massachusetts | June 30, 1982

[June 30, 1982]

This is an action for compensatory damages filed by plaintiff Charles D. Bonanno Linen Service, Inc. ("Bonanno") against defendant Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers Union Local No. 25 ("Local 25"), an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, and individual defendants who are members of Local 25. 1" The action was tried before the court without a jury on September 24, 25, and 28, 1981 and October 14, 21, and 30, 1981. All findings of fact stated in parts I and II infra are from a preponderance of the evidence. Findings of fact in parts III and IV infra are based on clear proof. Evaluative findings and conclusions of law are stated in the remaining portions of this opinion.

I.

This action arises from a labor dispute between Bonanno and Local 25 that began in the spring of 1975. Bonanno is a Massachusetts corporation with its principal place of business in Medford, Massachusetts where it conducts a retail and commercial dry-cleaning and laundry service operation. A portion of that business involves the renting and distributing of linens, uniforms, and related products. As part of its distribution operation, Bonanno employed twelve truck drivers in the spring of 1975. At that time the drivers were working under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between their representative union, Local 25, and the New England Linen Supply Association ("Association"), a multi-employer bargaining group whose membership included Bonanno. During March and April of 1975, Local 25 and the Association were unable to reach an agreement on a new contract, and in June of 1975 Local 25 terminated the then-existing collective bargaining agreement. The membership of Local 25 voted in favor of a selective strike on June 18, 1975, and shortly thereafter union leaders selected Bonanno as the target company. On June 23, 1975 the union announced its decision and the Bonanno drivers commenced picketing. The following day most members of the Association imposed a lock-out on Local 25 employees. This lock-out ended on November 21, 1975, when Bonanno withdrew from the Association. 2" The strike and the picketing at Bonanno, however, continued until August, 1977.

Between June 23, 1975 and September 8, 1975, Local 25 maintained picket lines at Bonanno during most hours of the day and night. The pickets, sometimes numbering as many as forty persons, frequently massed in the morning and the midafternoon hours, at which times the Bonanno trucks, which were being driven by route supervisors and replacement employees, would be leaving or returning to the plant. The pickets blocked the paths of trucks, verbally abused substitute drivers, harassed production employees, and obstructed the entrance to the retail store located at the front of the plant. The mass picketing continued until September 8, 1975, at which time this court issued a temporary injunction restricting the number of pickets. 3" Although the picketing continued each day and on many evenings after September 8, 1975, there were rarely more than fifteen pickets present at the plant at any one time. The number of pickets decreased further after November 21, 1975 when the lock-out ended and members of Local 25 (other than Bonanno drivers) returned to work.

Throughout most of the strike, the picketing at Bonanno was accompanied by acts of violence. Employees were threatened with physical injury, trucks were sprayed with paint, windshields were broken, burning cigarettes were tossed into trucks containing inflammable linens, incendiary flares were thrown into the yard, nails were strewn at the exit gate of the yard, windows in the plant were smashed, the gate to the plant was rammed with an automobile, a wire to the fire alarm system on the roof of the plant was cut, a bullet was fired into the plant, and a truck was damaged on the street leading from the plant when a picket driving an automobile intentionally caused a collision.

The violence also occurred along delivery routes and at the homes of substitute drivers. In July, 1975 Richard Smith, a route supervisor who was substituting as a driver during the strike, was brutally attacked and clubbed by two men with blackjacks. During the attack, which occurred along a delivery route in Boston, Smith was told that he would be killed unless he stopped driving for Bonanno. Subsequently, other substitute drivers were warned that they too would suffer a similar fate unless they stopped driving for Bonanno. On one occasion pickets followed John Doherty onto a highway and attempted to run his truck off the road. In another incident pickets followed Charles Chivakos, induced him to step out of his truck, and then drove their vehicle at him. Trucks were regularly followed by pickets along delivery routes, a practice that began during the summer of 1975 and intensified during the fall and winter. On more than one occasion when trucks were left unattended after being followed by pickets, tires were slashed, windows were broken, or invoices were stolen.

Acts of violence were also directed at persons other than substitute drivers. For example, security guards who were hired to patrol the plant or to accompany drivers on delivery routes were threatened by pickets. In September, 1975 one guard was physically attacked in front of the plant by Gerald Halloran, the Local 25 shop steward at Bonanno. Other persons who were threatened by pickets include Charles Bonanno, the owner of the company, David Holsberg, the plant manager, and John McBride, an engineer at the plant.

Most of the acts of violence by pickets occurred during 1975. After January of 1976 the violence was sporadic. There were approximately eight incidents of violence during all of 1976, the most serious of which occurred in the spring when a group of pickets threw rocks at Bonanno trucks and plant windows. Picketing at the site continued on a regular basis throughout most of 1976 in small numbers, and as late as November, members of Local 25 sometimes picketed at night. Although the picketing continued until August, 1977, the only incident of violence during the last year of the strike occurred in June when an incendiary flare was thrown into the yard of the plant.

During the course of the strike, Bonanno attempted to maintain order on the picket lines and to protect its employees and property in various ways. On the first day of the strike, Bonanno made arrangements with Guard Dogs, Inc., a private security service, to bolster plant protection. Since the Medford police department was unable to assign officers to the picket lines until the evening of June 27, 1975, Guard Dogs, Inc. provided all protective services for Bonanno during the first days of the strike. Each day, John McLaren of Guard Dogs, Inc., the supervisor of the security guards, would consult with managers from Bonanno and assign guards to the plant based on the size of the picket line and reports of violence. During the daytime hours of the first week of the strike, the primary duty of the guards was to maintain order along the picket lines. The security guards would open the picket lines to allow trucks, employees, and customers to pass through the gate or the entrance to the store. In addition, security guards would drive to delivery sites to check on the safety of substitute drivers and would respond to specific requests for assistance by drivers along their routes. Beginning sometime during the first week of the strike, private guards were also used to transport employees to work. Bonanno arranged a shuttle for the protection of the approximately eighty production workers, most of whom were women, because these employees were being verbally and physically harassed by pickets each day as they attempted to walk through the picket lines. Using Bonanno vehicles, guards would drive to designated locations, pick up the employees and transport them to the plant. The guards operated this shuttle until September, 1975.

The primary daytime activity of the guards changed after the attack on Richard Smith. Because of the attack and the continued threats and incidents of truck-following by pickets, drivers demanded more protection. Beginning on July 9, 1975, the day after the attack, Bonanno made arrangements through McLaren to have security guards accompany drivers along delivery routes. Typically, one guard would accompany each driver, although in situations where an additional guard was needed to protect both the driver and the truck, McLaren would supplement the escort service by functioning as a second guard himself. This escort service for drivers continued until March of 1976.

Beginning on June 27, 1975 and lasting until October 10, 1975, Bonanno also hired Medford police officers to control picket lines and protect the plant property. Between June 28, 1975 and August 22, 1975 Bonanno maintained at least two policemen on duty twenty-four hours a day. From August 25, 1975 until September 12, 1975 two police officers patrolled picket lines on weekdays from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. On September 15, 1975 Bonanno decreased the patrol to one officer. Finally, beginning on October 6, 1975 and ending on October 10, 1975, one policeman was on duty at Bonanno from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. Thereafter, with one exception on December 12, 1975, Bonanno did not use police officers as part of its daily security arrangements at the plant. Instead, Bonanno maintained private security guards at the site on a twenty-four hour basis. This continued until July, 1976, at which time the use of guards was limited to weekends and weeknights.

Security at Bonanno during non-work hours changed over the course of the strike, consisting at different times of combinations of policemen, private guards, and dogs. In April, 1975, in anticipation of a likely strike and the possibility of violence, Bonanno completed the construction of a chain link fence on its property. The fence, together with the plant building, enclosed a yard where Bonanno parked its vehicles. Beginning in May, 1975 this enclosed area was patrolled during the evenings and on weekends by two yard dogs supplied by Guard Dogs, Inc. The dogs were brought to the yard by a handler, left unattended overnight, and removed from the yard the next morning. When the strike commenced and it was learned that the picketing would continue during the evenings, it was decided that the dogs should not be left in the yard unattended. This decision was made because of McLaren's concern for the safety of the dogs, and also because it was recognized that the dogs would not be able to protect the plant building from vandalism. Moreover, Bonanno was concerned with the possibility of violence because of disturbances that had occurred during a strike in 1972 against Bonanno by Local 25. For these reasons, McLaren assigned a security guard to patrol the plant along with the two yard dogs. On the second day of the strike nails were found strewn at the exit gate of the plant, and one night shortly thereafter a wire to the fire alarm system on the roof of the plant was cut. Because of these incidents, and the continual presence of pickets at night, Bonanno increased its evening security. Additional guards were assigned to the plant and the yard dogs were replaced with attack dogs so that guards could move freely inside the yard itself. 4" This changed on June 27, 1975 when Medford police officers began to guard the plant during the evenings and on weekends. From June 28, 1975 until August 22, 1975, Bonanno ceased using both dogs and private guards at night, except on occasions when private guards were used to supplement the police personnel. After August 22, 1975, private guards accompanied by attack dogs, or in combination with yard dogs, once again became the usual method of providing evening security at the plant. Each day McLaren, in consultation with Bonanno management, would determine the number of guards to use that evening based on the size of the picket line and on whether there were reports of incidents of violence during the day. This method of protecting the plant property continued until April, 1977, at which time yard dogs without security guards were again used on weeknights. Finally, in July, 1977 Bonanno completely eliminated the use of private guards and returned to using yard dogs alone during evenings and weekends.

Almost all of the private security services during the strike were performed by Guard Dogs, Inc. and Gallant Security Service, a successor company that was owned and operated by McLaren. Occasionally, during the summer of 1975, McLaren subcontracted for additional guards from Investigators Services Bureau, Inc. and Wackenhut Corp., two independent security guard services. These companies would bill Bonanno directly for the additional guards provided. Many of the private security guards who were used during the strike were licensed to carry firearms. Shotguns were kept at the Bonanno plant for security purposes and were sometimes placed in trucks when guards accompanied drivers on delivery routes. In addition, guards who were licensed to carry handguns frequently did so when protecting the plant or escorting drivers. At no time during the strike, however, was a firearm discharged by a security guard, although on one occasion a guard used mace to subdue an attacking picket.

II.

In this action plaintiff seeks compensation from defendants for expenses incurred as a consequence of the violence that occurred during the strike. Plaintiff seeks compensation for the expense of providing police and private security guard protection at the plant (not including the cost of using guard dogs during evenings and weekends), and compensation for the expense of providing escorts for employees and substitute drivers. In addition, Bonanno seeks compensation for the cost of repairing trucks and plant property damaged during the strike, and for costs directly associated with the attack on Richard Smith, including medical expenses, towing charges, and the cost of replacing Smith's wrist watch, which was destroyed during the attack. I find that Bonanno incurred the following expenses during the course of the strike: Expenses for Plant Protection Medford Police (6-27-75 to 10-10-75; 12-12-75) $34,628.00 Guard Dogs, Inc. (8-18-75 to 4-23-76) 21,915.00 Guard Dogs, Inc. and Gallant's Security Service (4-24-76 to 1-2-77) 23,984.12 Gallant's Security Service (1-3-77 to 7-10-77) 9,329.25Expenses for Escort Services for Drivers and Employees Guard Dogs, Inc. (6-30-75 to 3-1-76) 35,632.14 Wackenhut Corp. and Investigators Services, Inc. (July to September 1975) n5 6,886.16Expenses for Assorted Private Security Services Guard Dogs, Inc. (6-23-75 to 6-27-75) n6 2,188.00Expenses Relating to the Attack on Richard Smith Cost of towing Smith's vehicle to Bonanno plant after the attack 31.00 Cost of replacing Smith's watch damaged during the attack 47.20 Medical care expenses 161.20Expenses Relating to the Repair of Bonanno Trucks Damaged During the Strike Repair of 3 windshields (8-14-75 to 9-19-75) 199.90 Repair of 8 tires (8-5-75 to 9-11-75) 369.48 Repairs to front end of truck damaged during collision on 8-7-75 1,025.23 Service call to start truck (10-27-75) 28.20Expenses for Repair of Plant Windows Assorted Windows (8-19-75 to 1-21-76) 113.41 Plate-glass window (2-20-76) 217.61

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