Wooddell v. Electrical Workers, 502 U.S. 93, 5 (1991)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit

No. 90-967. Argued October 16, 1991—Decided December 4, 1991

Petitioner Wooddell, a member of Local 71 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), sued respondents, the local and its officers, alleging, inter alia, that, because of his opposition to proposed union actions, they had violated his rights under Title I of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) by discriminating against him in job referrals in the operation of a hiring hall provided for in the local's collective-bargaining contracts with electrical contractors. He also contended that such conduct constituted violations of the IBEW Constitution and the local's bylaws, which were allegedly breaches of contract redressable under 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 1947 (LMRA). Among other things, Wood-dell sought injunctive relief, lost wages and benefits, and damages. The District Court dismissed all claims against all defendants. The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the LMRDA claim but otherwise affirmed the District Court, including its holding that Wooddell had no right to have the LMRDA claim tried to a jury. The Court of Appeals further held that 301—which provides that "[s]uits for violation of contracts between . . . labor organizations . . . may be brought in . . . district court"—did not authorize a breach-of-contract action to be brought by an individual union member for an alleged violation of a union constitution.

Held: 1. Wooddell was entitled to a jury trial on the LMRDA cause of action. Although he seeks injunctive relief as well as damages, the injunctive relief is assertedly incidental to the damages. His claim for lost wages cannot be treated as restitutionary incident to an order reinstating him to a job from which he has been terminated, as the damages sought are for pay for jobs to which the union failed to refer him. Also, an LMRDA action is closely analogous to a personal injury action, a prototypical example of an action at law to which the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial applies. Thus, Teamsters v. Terry, 494 U. S. 558, 565, 570, 571—in which the Court found a right to a jury trial on a claim for an employer's breach of a collective-bargaining agreement


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