Supreme Court to Review Property Damage Strike Claims

Takeaway: The U.S. Supreme Court will examine whether the federal National Labor Relations Act precludes claims under state law seeking compensation for property damaged during strikes.

On October 3, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will review a case presenting the question of whether the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) preempts separate lawsuits against unions for property damage caused during strikes. True to its name, the doctrine of federal preemption means that federal laws (like the NLRA) can prevent parties from seeking relief under state laws (like civil suits for property damage) to the extent that the state laws conflict with their federal counterparts.

The Court will examine a lawsuit filed by construction company CalPortland, against Teamsters Local Union No. 174, in Washington state court. CalPortland seeks damages from the Union for allegedly conspiring with workers to destroy fresh concrete by timing a strike to interfere with a set of concrete deliveries, causing the concrete to harden and become useless. So far, the case has already had a complicated procedural history. The Washington state trial court found that the NLRA preempted the claims because the concrete damage was incidental to a work stoppage, the Washington state appellate court disagreed and reversed, and the Washington Supreme Court reversed again, agreeing with the trial court that NLRA preemption applied. See a copy of the Washington Supreme Court decision.  

If you have any questions about how this or any other labor and employment law development may affect your business, please contact Daniel J. Sobol at, Alexander V. Batoff at or the Stevens & Lee attorney with whom you regularly work.