United States District Court, N.D. California
AMERICAN AIRLINES FLOW-THRU PILOTS COALITION, et al., Plaintiffs,
ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.
ORDER RE MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND CLASS
RICHARD SEEBORG United States District Judge.
named plaintiffs in this putative class action are five
individual pilots and an unincorporated association of more
than 150 similarly-situated pilots who originally were
employed by "American Eagle"-a collective name for
several regional affiliates of American
Airlines. In 1997, Eagle pilots became eligible to
become pilots at American by virtue of a so-called
"Flow-Thru Agreement" executed among the airline
companies and the affected unions. Plaintiffs, who refer to
themselves and the putative class members as
"Flow-Thru-Pilots" (FTPs), acquired certain rights
under that agreement with respect to when and how they would
be offered positions flying for American, and what their
seniority status would be among American pilots. The FTPs
would also come under the representation of the union for
American pilots, defendant Allied Pilots Association
("The Union")-at least once they began flying at
American. A disputed issue in the present motion for summary
judgment is whether the Union owed any duty to FTPs who had
not yet obtained positions at American.
contend that the Union has subsequently discriminated against
them and all other FTPs in connection with (1) the
integration of former TWA pilots into the American workforce
in the early 2000s, and (2) the more recent and ongoing
absorption of former U.S. Airways pilots into American
employment. In essence, plaintiffs allege that the Union has
placed the interests of former TWA and U.S. Airways pilots
above those of the FTPs in subsequent bargaining with
American, with resulting negative impacts to the FTPs'
seniority status, service credits, pay, and other benefits.
Union now seeks summary judgment and plaintiffs seek class
certification. For reasons explained below, summary judgment
will be granted in part, and the class certification will be
granted as to the remaining claim.
judgment is proper "if the pleadings and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The purpose of summary
judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually
unsupported claims or defenses." Celotex v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The moving party
"always bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of the pleadings and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact." Id. at 323 (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted). If it meets this burden, the moving
party is then entitled to judgment as a matter of law when
the non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of the case with respect to which he bears
the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322-23.
non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e). The non-moving party cannot defeat the moving
party's properly supported motion for summary judgment
simply by alleging some factual dispute between the parties.
To preclude the entry of summary judgment, the non-moving
party must bring forth material facts, i.e.,
"facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law . . . . Factual disputes that are
irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986). The opposing party "must do more than
simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986).
court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party, including questions of credibility and of
the weight to be accorded particular evidence. Masson v.
New Yorker Magazine, Inc., 501 U.S. 496 (1991) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255); Matsushita, 475
U.S. at 588 (1986). It is the court's responsibility
"to determine whether the ‘specific facts' set
forth by the nonmoving party, coupled with undisputed
background or contextual facts, are such that a rational or
reasonable jury might return a verdict in its favor based on
that evidence." T.W. Elec. Service v. Pacific Elec.
Contractors, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987).
"[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a
material fact is ‘genuine, ' that is, if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248. However, "[w]here the record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for
trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.
First claim for relief
first claim for relief of the operative Second Amended
Complaint alleges the Union breached its duty to plaintiffs
of fair representation by negotiating and agreeing to
"Discriminatory LOS [length of service]
Provisions." In essence, the dispute arises because
under the 1997 Flow- thru agreement, FTPs were not entitled
to receive LOS credit for the time they flew at Eagle before
joining American. At the time this agreement was reached, of
course, the FTPs were at the bargaining table with their own
union. The arrangement might not have led to future disputes
had it not been for (1) the post- 9/11 downturn in the
industry that led to a multi-year hiring freeze at American,
and (2) American's merger with the bankrupt TWA, which
resulted in a large number of TWA pilots ("the TWA
staplees") coming into competition with the FTPs for
available jobs at American.
complaint sets out an extensive history of events in the
collective bargaining process over the years that plaintiffs
contend reflect the Union's discriminatory conduct
against FTPs and in favor of other groups of pilots,
including but not limited to the TWA staplees. The first
claim for relief incorporates all those allegations, and
asserts they constitute the breach of the Union's duty of
fair representation. The Union's present motion contends,
and plaintiffs do not dispute, that there are two basic
categories of claims: (1) those arising from the negotiation
of so-called "Letter G" as part of a collective
bargaining agreement made in 2015, and (2) all other claims,
which relate to earlier negotiations and events. The Union
contends that the "all other claims" are