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United Transportation Union v. State Bar of Michigan
United States Supreme Court
401 U.S. 576 (1971)
The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (Brotherhood) developed a program to make affordable, competent legal counsel available to its members in the State of Michigan for claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. The Brotherhood referred its members to attorneys from Chicago who had agreed to charge union clients no more than 25 percent of the total damages recovered inclusive of costs. The Brotherhood paid union representatives for their time and expenses in transporting injured union members to meet with attorneys. The Brotherhood later merged into the United Transportation Union (Union) (defendant). In 1959, the Michigan State Bar (State Bar) (plaintiff) petitioned for an injunction to prohibit the Union from engaging in certain activities related to its lawyer referral program. The case progressed to the Supreme Court of Michigan, which enjoined the Union from engaging in four particular activities. First, the order prohibited giving legal advice to union members. Second, the order disallowed giving the names of injured members to any attorney. Third, irrespective of the fact that the State Bar did not allege or prove any type of fee sharing, the order prohibited the Union from receiving monetary benefit from a legal referral. Finally, the order proscribed any limitations on the fees attorneys could charge. The Union petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review of the state court injunction.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)
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