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Duffer v. United Continental Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 16, 2013

MARK DUFFER, an individual on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS, INC., a Delaware Corporation; UNITED AIRLINES, INC., a Delaware Corporation; CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC., a Delware Coproration; AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INT'L, an unknown business entity; THE CONTINTENTAL AIRLINES CHAPTER OF THE AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INT'L, an unknown business entity, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE, (ECF NO. 25); (2) DENYING AS MOOT MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM CIVIL LOCAL RULE 83.3(c)(5), (ECF NO. 35).

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

On February 8, 2013, Mark Duffer ("Plaintiff") filed a class-action complaint on behalf of himself and other Continental Airlines pilots who are serving or have served in the United States Armed Services or National Guard. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff asserts three causes of action for (1) violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"); (2) violations of California's Military and Veterans Code ("MVC"); and (3) negligence. ( Id. )

Before the Court is a motion to transfer venue filed by defendants United Continental Holdings, Inc. ("UCH"); United Airlines, Inc. ("United"); and Continental Airlines, Inc. ("Continental") (all three together, "Airline Defendants"). (ECF No. 25.) Plaintiff has opposed the Motion to Transfer Venue, (ECF No. 32), and the Airline Defendants have filed a reply, (ECF No. 38). Defendants Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l ("ALPA") and The Contintental Chapter of Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l ("CAL-ALPA") (both together, "Union Defendants") have not filed a response to the Motion to Transfer Venue.

Also before the Court is a motion for relief from Civil Local Rule 83.3(c)(5) filed by ALPA, in which ALPA's would-be local counsel seeks relief from this Court's rule requiring local counsel associated with pro hac vice applicants to be physically located in or near this judicial district. (ECF No. 35.) The Airline Defendants filed a notice of non-opposition to the Rule 83.3 Motion. (ECF No. 39.) Plaintiff has not filed a response to the Rule 83.3 Motion.

After a careful consideration of the parties' submissions, and for the reasons that follow, the Court hereby GRANTS the Airline Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue and DENIES AS MOOT ALPA's Rule 83.3 Motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, an airline pilot and member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, claims Defendants have unlawfully withheld payment to Plaintiff and the putative class based on their military service.

UCH was formed in connection with the merger of United and Continental. Thereafter, UCH negotiated a so-called "United Pilot Agreement" ("UPA") with ALPA. The UPA includes Letter of Agreement 24 ("LOA 24"), which provides ALPA with $400 million to be distributed to United and Continental pilots. Following execution of the UPA, an arbitrator decided $225 million of the $400 million should go to United pilots and that $175 million should go to Continental pilots. CAL-ALPA then formulated a method for distributing the $175 million to Continental pilots.

CAL-ALPA's distribution formula is based on an "earnings portion" and an "availability portion." Under the "availability portion, " the more available a pilot was during each month of a specific period, the greater the portion of the $175 million the pilot would receive. Plaintiff claims that pilots who were absent due to military service during that specific period were considered unavailable during their absence and will therefore receive a smaller portion of the $175 million. Plaintiff alleges that other types of leave, such as jury duty leave and sick leave, were not counted as periods of unavailability. Plaintiff therefore claims that ALPA's distribution formula violates both the USERRA and the MVA.

DISCUSSION

The Court will first address the Airline Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue, after which the Court will discuss ALPA's Rule 83.3 Motion.

I. Motion to ...


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