Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers v. Terry
SCOTUS - 1990 (494 U.S. 558)
- Ps were truckers in D's union. Ps were transferred to Winston-Salem where they were given special seniority rights over inactive employees there who had been laid off temporarily.
- Ps were laid off and brought back on and lost their seniority status. Ps claimed that the trucking company violated the collective bargaining agreement.
- Ps filed a grievance with the Union, but the Union declined to refer the charges to a grievance committee.
- Ps filed an action in district court alleging that the trucking company had violated the collective bargaining agreement and that the Union had violated its duty of fair representation. Ps sought compensatory damages for lost wages and health benefits.
- The trucking company filed for bankruptcy, so only the claim against the Union remained.
- Ps requested a jury trial, and the Union moved to strike the jury demand.
- District court denied D's motion to strike.
- Fourth Circuit affirmed, motion to strike denied.
- SCOTUS affirmed, motion to strike denied.
- Does an employee who seeks back pay for a union's breach of fair representation have the right to a jury trial?
- How should a court determine whether the right to a jury trial attaches to a claim or remedy that was created post-1791?
- An employee who seeks back pay for a union's breach of fair representation has a right to a jury trial.
- How to determine if a jury trial attaches…
- First, the court must compare the statutory action to 18th century actions brought in the courts of England prior to the merger of the courts of law and equity.
- Second, the court must examine the remedy sought and determine whether it is legal or equitable in nature.
- The right to a jury trial extends to more than just the common law forms of action recognized in 1791. The right extends to causes of action created by Congress.
- The Seventh Amendment question depends on the nature of the issue to be tried rather than the character of the overall action.
- The only remedy sought is a request for compensatory damages; generally, an action for money damages was the traditional form of relief offered in the courts of law.
- Damages are only considered in courts of equity if…
- They are restitutionary.
- They are incidental to or intertwined with injunctive relief.
- Brennan thinks that courts should only look at what kind of relief is sought.
- The claim against the Union is more like a claim against a trust, traditionally an action in a court of equity.
- If you're looking for money, you get a jury most of the time.