BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY v. AMERICAN TRAIN DISPATCHERS ASSOCIATION No. 10-10771.
BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. AMERICAN TRAIN DISPATCHERS ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Appellant.
United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.
Filed: May 19, 2011.
Before: WIENER, BENAVIDES, and STEWART, Circuit Judges.
Defendant-Appellant the American Train Dispatchers' Association ("ATDA") appeals the district court's remand order of July 6, 2010. The threshold issue is whether this order is final and thus reviewable, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Because administrative remand orders are generally considered interlocutory and because we agree, as did the parties at oral argument, that the district court's order remains reviewable on any later appeal, the district court's remand order falls short of the § 1291 finality requirement. This court lacks jurisdiction to review this case, and ATDA's appeal shall be dismissed.
ATDA is the collective bargaining representative for the train dispatchers of the BNSF Railway Company ("BNSF"). Both ATDA and BNSF are parties to several collective bargaining agreements (collectively "the CBA") governing the terms and conditions of employment at BNSF. After unsuccessful efforts to resolve a dispute, on March 2, 2005, the dispatchers represented by ATDA walked out on BNSF's Fort Worth dispatching center. Because of the surprise strike, BNSF had to shut down its entire rail transportation network for several hours, which allegedly resulted in approximately $300,000 in damages to BNSF.
On March 29, 2005, BNSF filed a grievance against ATDA, claiming that ATDA's surprise strike violated the CBA. After the parties failed to resolve the dispute through the requisite on-property handling, BNSF progressed the dispute to the Third Division of the National Railroad Adjustment Board. The parties then agreed to submit their dispute to a special board of adjustment, Public Law Board No. 7290 ("the Board"). On September 18, 2009, the Board issued its Award, concluding that BNSF could not seek damages for the strike because neither the Railway Labor Act ("RLA") nor the CBA provided for it. BNSF sought review in the district court. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court granted BNSF's motion and denied ATDA's motion, holding that the Board's Award was based on nine incorrect conclusions. Specifically, the district court concluded that, contrary to the Board's Award, BNSF could seek damages under the RLA and the CBA. The district court vacated the arbitral decision and remanded the matter to the same Board for further proceedings. The district court ordered that, consistent with its opinion, "if a breach of contract is shown, as a matter of law BNSF is entitled to a remedy for such breach." ATDA sought review in this court.
This court's jurisdiction is limited to appeals from "final decisions of the district courts." 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Section 3 First (q) of the RLA explicitly incorporates the finality requirement of § 1291. See 45 U.S.C. § 153, First (q) ("The judgment of the [district] court shall be subject to review as provided in section 1291."). A decision is final if it "ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment." Catlin v. United States,
Administrative remands generally are not final orders under § 1291. See Mem'l Hosp. Sys. v. Heckler,
Moreover, the order does not satisfy the conditions of the collateral order doctrine. The attorney for BNSF agreed at oral argument that the July 6, 2010, order would remain reviewable on appeal. The issue of whether the Board exceeded its jurisdiction, while not reviewable in the instant proceedings because of the remand, is thus still subject to future review by this court. As a result of this concession, ATDA will not lose the benefit of the extremely deferential standard of review federal courts apply to RLA labor arbitration decisions and to arbitrators' remedial actions on appeal. See United Paperworkers Int'l Union v. Misco, Inc.,
The appeal is DISMISSED for want of jurisdiction.
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