OPINION OF THE COURT
A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM, Jr., Circuit Judge.
This is an appeal from a final judgment of the district court dismissing as moot the suit by appellants International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers ("International") and Trustee Henry P. Groton, Jr. against the officers of one of International's locals. The suit sought (1) to enforce a trusteeship imposed by the International over Local Lodge D-522, in part for reasons of possible financial mismanagement; and (2) to compel the officers to relinquish control over all assets and financial records of the local. Prior to any decision in the suit, the members of the local, in a representation election, voted to be represented by another union, and the National Labor Relations Board certified that new union as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the employees. Reasoning that the dissolution of the local over which appellants sought to impose a trusteeship left them without a viable claim, the district court dismissed their suit. We conclude that a decision as to the validity of the original trusteeship was necessary in order to determine who was entitled to control the assets at the time of decertification, — and therefore who is now entitled to control those assets.
On April 22, 1985, the International President, based on initial informal reports, exercised his power under Article XVIII, § 3 of the International Constitution and placed Local Lodge D-522 under emergency trusteeship.
Pursuant to the requirements of Article XVIII, §§ 1 and 3 of the International Constitution, the International Executive Council notified Groton that a hearing would be held on May 5, 1985, to determine whether the trusteeship should be continued beyond the period of the emergency order. Groton duly posted notice of the hearing throughout the local's workplace and also mailed notice of the hearing to each of the appellee officers.
Appellee officers refused at all times to acknowledge the validity of the trusteeship or to comply with the directives issued by the appointed trustee. On May 5, 1985, the scheduled hearing on whether to continue the trusteeship was held. Appellees declined to participate, however, choosing instead to rely on a letter from their attorney that was presented to the hearing officer at the commencement of the proceedings. The letter challenged the validity of the trusteeship on the ground that the International failed to provide adequate notice of the specific reasons underlying the imposition of the trusteeship. The hearing thus proceeded with testimony offered solely in support of the International and its trustee. Thereafter, the International Executive Council decided to extend the trusteeship.
Appellants, faced with the continuing non-cooperation of appellee officers with trustee Groton, filed a complaint in the district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking to enjoin appellees from interfering with the administration of the trusteeship and to compel them to produce the local's financial books, records, and assets. See App. at 5-12. Appellants also moved for a preliminary injunction pending final resolution of their complaint. While that motion was pending, however, Local D-522's members voted to affiliate themselves with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("Teamsters"). The National Labor Relations Board subsequently certified that selection and designated the newly formed Teamsters local as the exclusive bargaining representative. The twice-postponed hearing on appellants' outstanding motion for a preliminary injunction was not held until October 4, 1985. On March 24, 1986, before a ruling on appellants' motion for preliminary injunction had issued, appellees moved the court to dismiss the complaint as moot. Finding that the International "[did not] have a viable claim in th[e] action when the Local over which [it] sought to impose a trusteeship [was] no longer a viable entity," the district court granted the motion and dismissed the action. App. at 332. The present appeal ensued.
Questions of mootness are considered under a plenary standard of review. See, e.g., United States v. Yakima Tribal Court of the Yakima Indian Nation, 794 F.2d 1402, 1405 (9th Cir.1986) (review of district court jurisdiction is de novo); Sample v. Johnson, 771 F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1019, 106 S.Ct. 1206, 89 L.Ed.2d 319 (1986) (de novo standard for reviewing questions of mootness and subject matter jurisdiction). Mootness analysis traditionally begins with "the requirement of Article III of the Constitution under which the exercise of judicial power depends upon the existence of a case or controversy." North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 404, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971) (quoting Liner v. Jafco, Inc., 375 U.S. 301, 306 n. 3, 84 S.Ct. 391, 394 n. 3, 11 L.Ed.2d 347 (1964)); see Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Township
In addition to its threshold constitutional dimension, mootness doctrine incorporates prudential considerations as well. See Kremems v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 128, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 1714, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 (1977); Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., 424 U.S. 747, 756 n. 8, 96 S.Ct. 1251, 1260 n. 8, 47 L.Ed.2d 444 (1976); Wilkinson v. Abrams, 627 F.2d 650, 658 (3d Cir.1980). These policy concerns "relat[e] to the court's discretion in matters of remedy and judicial administration." Chamber of Commerce v. United States Department of Energy, 627 F.2d 289, 291 (D.C.Cir.1980). Thus, in applying the mootness doctrine, courts, in addition to satisfying the requirements of Article III, "must answer the more policy-oriented question whether the parties before it have, at the time for decision sufficient functional adversity to sharpen the issues for judicial resolution." Dow Chemical Co., 605 F.2d at 677-78. In operation, however, the mandatory constitutional aspects and the discretionary policy concerns of mootness analysis are often difficult to parse. Indeed, mootness is fundamentally a matter of degree; there is no precise test for ascertaining with precision whether a particular claim has become moot. Cf. Babbitt v. United Farm Workers Nat'l Union, 442 U.S. 289, 297, 99 S.Ct. 2301, 2308, 60 L.Ed.2d 895 (1979) ("The difference between an abstract question and a `case or controversy' is one of degree, of course, and is not discernible by any precise test."); Haitian Refugee Center v. Civiletti, 503 F.Supp. 442, 465 (D.Fla.1980), modified sub nom. Haitian Refugee Center v. Smith, 676 F.2d 1023 (5th Cir. Unit B 1982). Such a determination therefore becomes "an intensely factual inquiry," Haitian Refugee Center, 503 F.Supp. at 463, "guided primarily by pragmatic considerations." In re Zacherl Coal Co., 9 B.R. 952, 955 (W.D.Pa.1981).
This Court has recently recognized that "[t]he central question of all mootness problems is whether changes in circumstances that prevailed at the beginning of the litigation have forestalled any occasion for meaningful relief." Jersey Central Power and Light Co. v. State of New Jersey, 772 F.2d 35, 39 (3d Cir.1985); 13A C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3533 at 261 (1984). The availability of effective relief is one measure of the existence of a continuing controversy between parties
The gravamen of appellants' initial complaint was that the appellees were illegally withholding control of the local's records and assets in contravention of a trusteeship imposed, in part, to investigate possible financial mismanagement by appellees. The issue of control required, in turn, a determination as to whether the trusteeship had been properly imposed and was itself a valid exercise of the International's authority. The question of the validity of the trusteeship, which would be dispositive of appellants' original claim, was not rendered moot by the subsequent disaffiliation since the proper focus of inquiry in the case before the district court was the validity of the trusteeship at the time of its extension on May 5, 1985. If the trusteeship was valid then, appellants are now entitled to control the financial records and assets of the local and to ascertain whether the appellee officers had breached their fiduciary obligation. That right is unaffected by any later disaffiliation. The instant dispute is therefore a real controversy between adverse parties with a cognizable legal stake in the outcome.
Appellees seek to avoid a determination of the initial propriety of the trusteeship simply because the local was disbanded before the district court could hear and decide the case. The ability of the district court to grant appellants effective relief, if warranted on the merits of this case, however, supports our conclusion that this case is
Other prudential factors counsel against dismissal as well. First, appellees' refusal to cooperate with the trusteeship has a continuing adverse effect on appellants, insofar as they are thus unable to investigate the local's financial practices or to manage its assets.
For the foregoing reasons, the district court's dismissal of this case as moot will be reversed and the case will be remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Article XVIII, of the International Constitution provides in relevant part as follows:
In Re Kulp Foundry, Inc., 691 F.2d at 1129. In this appeal, appellants' efforts to expeditiously resolve the dispute between the parties and to preserve the status quo have been frustrated by a total lack of cooperation from the appellees. In addition, dismissal would operate to give appellees complete control over the disputed assets without a determination of the legality of the trusteeship. Absent that determination, the issue presented before this Court and the district court satisfies the requirements of a real case or controversy.