In July 1902 union and nonunion employees struck D. E. Loewe and Co., a hat manufacturer located in Danbury, Ct., in an unsuccessful attempt to force the company to unionize, and the United Hatters of North America subsequently organized a nationwide boycott of the firm's products. In August 1903 Loewe sued for damages in both state and federal courts and sought the attachment of the homes and bank deposits of defendants in the Danbury area. The state case, brought before the Superior Court of Fairfield, Ct., sought $100,000 in damages from officers of the AFL, of the UHNA, and of six UHNA locals as well as an injunction against the boycott. The names of the AFL's officers were subsequently dropped from the suit after Gompers presented an affidavit to the court demonstrating that the AFL had not participated in the boycott.
The state case was never tried on its merits but was held in abeyance while the courts considered the federal case, which sought triple damages under the terms of the Sherman Antitrust Act from UHNA officers and members of UHNA locals in Danbury, Bethel, and Norwalk, Ct. Loewe argued that the union's boycott was a conspiracy in restraint of interstate trade under the Sherman Act, while the UHNA maintained that its activities did not come under the act's provisions. James P. Platt of the U.S. Circuit Court, District of Connecticut, dismissed the federal case in 1906 (148 F. 924 ), but Loewe appealed the decision, and, in 1908 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sherman Act was applicable and remanded the case for trial (208 U.S. 274
). Loewe v. Lawlor was tried in late 1909 and early 1910 before Judge Platt. Platt instructed the jury to find for Loewe, and Loewe was awarded triple damages, court costs, and attorneys' fees. On appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1911, the verdict was overturned on a technicality and a new trial ordered (187 F. 522 ). At the second trial, which took place in 1912, the jury again found for Loewe, who was awarded damages and costs of $252,131. Appeals to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1913 (209 F. 721 ) and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1914 (235 U.S. 522
) were unsuccessful, and the AFL subsequently donated $214,911 to the UHNA to help the union pay the award.