Preliminary Injunction Prior to Hearing In Order to Restrain Picketing to Property

In Link Belt Co. v. Union #118 of Am. Fed. of Tech. Eng., 415 Pa. 122, 202 A.2d 314 (1964), the Supreme Court upheld a preliminary injunction issued prior to hearing. Plaintiffs in Link Belt brought an action in equity seeking a preliminary injunction prior to hearing in order to restrain defendant's mass picketing. The complaint and injunction affidavits averred that defendants formed picket lines at all of the entrances and exits to plaintiff's property, and, by physical force and intimidation, denied employers, employees, customers, and suppliers ingress and egress. Based solely on the complaint and affidavits, the court issued a preliminary injunction ordering defendants to restore open access to and exit from plaintiff's plant and limiting the number of pickets to three per plant entrance. The court continued the preliminary injunction after conducting a hearing on the following morning, and defendants appealed, wherein they alleged that the Act did not authorize the issuance of a preliminary injunction prior to a hearing. On appeal, the Supreme Court first reviewed the history of the Act and found Section 206d, added to the Act in the amendments of 1939, to have "completely restore[d] to the courts of common pleas the equitable powers exercised by them [before the Act of 1937] for causes which fall within the terms of the 1939 Amending Act." Id. at 126, 202 A.2d at 316. The Court then acknowledged prior decisions relying on the amendments to hold that compliance with the procedural requirements of the Act is not a prerequisite to the issuance of an injunction where a particular labor dispute falls within the exclusion of Section 206d. In cases outside the scope of the Act by virtue of Section 206d, the usual rules of equity will apply. Id. These rules of equity, including Pa.R.C.P. 1531, which authorizes the issuance of a preliminary injunction prior to hearing, curb injunction abuse with safeguards such as requiring the plaintiff to post an injunction bond payable to any party injured as a result of an improperly granted injunction, allowing a ban only on the illegal conduct complained of, and scheduling a hearing shortly after the issuance of an ex parte preliminary injunction. Under the guidance of the above principles, the Supreme Court found that plaintiff's allegations sufficed to sustain the issuance of the preliminary injunction. Refusing to pass on the actual merits of the case, the Court simply found that the complaint and affidavits supplied an apparently reasonable basis for the court below to conclude preliminarily that the defendants were engaged in an illegal seizure of the plaintiff's plant.