454 U.S. 1110 (1981)

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U.S. Supreme Court

KIMBLE v. MCDUFFY, INC. , 454 U.S. 1110 (1981)

454 U.S. 1110

D. J. McDUFFY, INC., et al
No. 81-536

Supreme Court of the United States

December 7, 1981

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice WHITE, dissenting.

The first part of 42 U.S.C. 1985(2) (1976 ed., Supp.III) creates a private right of action for damages based on certain forms of interference with federal judicial proceedings:

    "If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire to deter, by force, intimidation, or threat, any party or witness in any court of the United States from attending such court, or from testifying to any matter pending therein, freely, fully, and truthfully, or to injure such party or witness in his person or property on account of his having so attended or testified."

The second part of 1985(2) creates a similar cause of action for interference with state proceedings:

    "[I]f two or more persons conspire for the purpose of impeding, hindering, obstructing, or defeating, in any manner, the due course of justice in any State or Territory, with intent to deny to any citizen the equal protection of the laws, or to injure him or his property for lawfully enforcing, or attempting to enforce, the right of any person, or class of persons, to the equal protections of the laws."

These two clauses are separated by a semicolon: The lower federal courts have reached conflicting conclusions concerning the effect of that semicolon.

Page 454 U.S. 1110 , 1111

Petitioner was employed as an oil driller by respondent D. J. McDuffy, Inc., from December 1972 until April 1973. In March 1973, McDuffy joined the Industrial Foundation of the South (IFS). IFS is a nonprofit corporation, the purpose of which is to provide information to its members concerning workers' compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits in state and federal courts filed by employees or prospective employees of the employer/members. Apparently, the employer/members believe that they can reduce their employers' insurance and workers' compensation costs by obtaining this information, which may indicate whether a particular employee is likely to be an insurance or compensation risk.

Petitioner alleges that when McDuffy joined IFS, McDuffy learned that petitioner had previously pursued a lawsuit in federal court against a former employer and had obtained a large judgment. Contending that he was fired by McDuffy because of this prior suit, petitioner filed a class action in Federal District Court on behalf of all individuals who had been denied employment by IFS members because they had filed workers' compensation or personal injury claims against companies in the oil drilling business. [Footnote 1] The complaint, based entirely on 42 U.S.C. 1985(2) ( 1976 ed., Supp.III), sought damages for the class and a permanent injunction enjoining the challenged practices. [Footnote 2] The District Court granted respondents' motion for summary judgment. It held that the complaint failed to allege facts that would bring this case within either the first or second clause of 1985(2): A conspiracy by employers to retaliate against employees for filing personal injury suits fails to allege either an intent to deny the equal protection of the laws-required by the second clause-or injury for "having attended or testified in federal court," 445 F.Supp. 269, 276 (ED La.1978)-required by the first clause. A divided panel of the Court of Appeals for [454 U.S. 1110 , 1112]

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