Carpenters Union Gets Hit With

$2.3 Million Verdict

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Lake County Jury Convinced

Union Organizers Defamed Antioch Firm

09/25/06

Last week a jury returned a verdict in favor of J. Maki Construction Co. and its owner, John Maki,and against the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and three of its organizers.  Maki won on its claim that fliers distributed by the union's organizers, attributing to him a declaration that the homes he built were "crappy," were per se libelous.  An employer's claim against union officials and a union for libel are not preempted by federal labor law.

The union sought to pressure Maki into signing a labor agreement by distributing these leaflets, picketing, and following John Maki around as he patronized restaurants, visited his home in Wisconsin, and visited his lawyer.  J. Maki Construction employs around thirty carpenters.

The $2.3 million award is the highest in the State outside of Cook County.  The union, represented by Whitfield and McGann, is appealing, and will have to put up an appeal bond for the amount in issue. 

Judge Mitchell Hoffman presided over the two-day trial.  Fred Schwartz of Litler Mendelson represented the plaintiffs.