MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
After careful review of the record, we adopt the analysis of the district court's Memorandum Decision and Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Granting in Part Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment, and Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification. We therefore
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
Jeff Gullickson, et al., Plaintiffs,
Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, Southwest Airlines Company, and Morris Air Corporation, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
Civil No. 94-C-660W
WINDER, Chief Judge.
This matter is before the court on three separate motions for summary judgment: (1) plaintiffs Jeff Gullickson, Thomas A. Mosher, Charles M. Motz, Jr., Michael Pratt, Gerald Puckett, Gary Joseph Sallee, Gary Winn, Robert R. May II, and Corey Holberg's ("Plaintiffs") motion for partial summary judgment
In December of 1992, defendant Morris Air Corporation began operations after obtaining a Part 121 operating certificate.
On about December 10, 1993, SWAPA learned of the pending takeover of Morris by Southwest. See Declaration of Gary Kerans at ¶ 3 [hereinafter Kerans Dec.] (attached as Exhibit 2 to Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association's Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Case No. 94-C-660W (May 4, 1995) [hereinafter SWAPA's Response]). At that time, Southwest requested "prompt negotiations for an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement" with SWAPA ("SWAPA-Southwest CBA"). Id. In particular, Southwest sought a waiver of the scope agreement provisions in the SWAPA-Southwest CBA.
Morris pilots were not members of SWAPA in December of 1993 and January of 1994. See Oral Deposition of Thomas Mosher at p. 54 (Jan. 31, 1995) [hereinafter Mosher Depo.] (attached as Exhibit B to Appendix of Summary Judgment Evidence of Southwest's and Morris' Motion for Summary Judgment, Case No. 94-C-660W (May 8, 1995)). Nevertheless, prior to engaging in the requested negotiations with Southwest, SWAPA wished to meet with a representative group of Morris pilots. See Kerans Dec. at ¶ 4. Consequently, in mid-December of 1993, a group comprised of several Morris pilots — Ray Plummer, David Wabel, Chip Beedle, Tim Murphy, and plaintiff Thomas A. Mosher ("Mosher") (collectively "Morris Committee") — was formed
It is undisputed that the Morris Committee's number one goal was guaranteed employment at Southwest for all Morris pilots.
After the December 16 meeting, SWAPA representatives met with Southwest.
SWAPA sent all of its members a copy of the December 22 Memorandum and an unexecuted copy of the Letter of Agreement. See Plaintiffs' Summary Judgment Memo. at p. 8. This memorandum provided "questions and answers concerning the acquisition of Morris Air and the Letter of Agreement." Id. Included among the numerous questions posed and answered in the December 22 Memorandum were: (1) "Who did SWAPA deal with from the Morris Air pilots?" (2) "What were the major concerns of the Morris pilots?"
See December 22 Memo. at p. 5. This explanation correctly states the terms of the Letter of Agreement.
On December 22, 1993, the SWAPA Committee also briefed the Morris Committee in person as to the provisions of the tentative Letter of Agreement. In addition, on both December 22, 1993 and December 23, 1993, the SWAPA Committee held informational meetings in Salt Lake City. These meetings were advertised by bulletin, all Morris pilots were invited to attend, and the meetings were not restricted in any way. See Mosher Depo. at p. 49. Plaintiffs do not dispute that, at those meetings, the SWAPA Committee went over the entire tentative Letter of Agreement item by item and answered all questions from the floor. As plaintiff Mosher explained, "[i]t was a road show to explain the tenets of the agreement between Southwest and SWAPA." Id. at p. 50. In fact,
Beedle Dec. at ¶¶ 11-13; see also Schnobrich Dec. at ¶¶ 11-12 (noting no objection to any part of Letter of Agreement and no questions or comments about seniority or seat protection); Mosher Depo. at pp. 53-54 (stating that none of the Morris pilots were SWAPA members in December of 1993 and January of 1994, and neither he nor Morris Committee asked to vote on Letter of Agreement).
Plaintiffs acknowledge that "[b]y memorandum dated ... December 23, 1993,
On January 7, 1994, the members of SWAPA ratified the tentative Letter of Agreement, which was retroactively effective to January 1, 1994.
In February of 1994, SWAPA became the collective bargaining agent for the Morris pilots. Three months later, on May 16, 1994, Morris pilots ratified a collective bargaining agreement that had been negotiated between SWAPA and Morris ("SWAPA-Morris CBA") by a vote of 134 to 2.
See SWAPA-Morris CBA at pp. 1-2 (emphasis added).
Morris pilots Ray Plummer and Frank Anthony were among those who participated in the negotiation of the SWAPA-Morris CBA. See Declaration of Frank E. Anthony at ¶ 5 (Apr. 12, 1995) (attached as Exhibit 4 to SWAPA's Response Memo.). In addition, after SWAPA negotiators reached a tentative agreement with Morris, two meetings were held with the Morris pilots to explain the proposed contract. Id. Plaintiffs apparently do not dispute that all sections of the contract were explained at the meeting, nor that Steve Palmason explained the section at issue here. See Plaintiffs' Opposition Memo. at p. 10, n.7. Further, copies of the proposed SWAPA-Morris CBA were made available to the entire pilot group. See Mosher Depo. at p. 57. The results of the ratification vote were announced on May 16, 1994.
On June 29, 1994, Plaintiffs filed this suit. Two days later, on July 1, 1994, Southwest terminated plaintiff Michael Pratt's ("Pratt") employment as a pilot.
Plaintiffs now move for partial summary judgment on claims one, two, and three of the Complaint, asserting the following basic arguments: (1) SWAPA's DFR was breached by the "endtailing"
SWAPA moves for summary judgment on claims one, two, and three on the following grounds: (1) the statute of limitations bars claims one, two, and three, (2) Plaintiffs could not vote on the Letter of Agreement because they were not members of SWAPA or eligible for membership at material times (claims two and three), and (3) by ratifying the SWAPA-Morris CBA, Morris pilots ratified SWAPA's actions as a whole (claims one, two, and three).
Morris and Southwest move for summary judgment on claims one and four,
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, 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). In applying this standard, the court must construe all facts and reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Wright v. Southwestern Bell Tel. Co., 925 F.2d 1288, 1292 (10th Cir.1991).
Once the moving party has carried its burden, Rule 56(e) "requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by ... affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Gonzales v. Millers Casulty Ins. Co., 923 F.2d 1417, 1419 (10th Cir.1991).
In considering whether there exist genuine issues of material fact, the court does not weigh the evidence but instead inquires whether a reasonable jury, faced with the evidence presented, could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510-11, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Clifton v. Craig, 924 F.2d 182, 183 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 827, 112 S.Ct. 97, 116 L.Ed.2d 68 (1991).
A. First, Second, and Third Causes of Action
Legal authority holds, and Plaintiffs apparently concede,
For example, in Rakestraw, pilots of a small airline ("Ozark") acquired by a larger airline ("TWA") voted to approve an agreement which merged the seniority lists by date of hire, even though they knew that this would leave the TWA pilots with the "pick of the assignments." See Rakestraw, 981 F.2d at 1526-27. Concededly, the vote was made under duress, since delay caused by the TWA pilots' objections to Ozark's proposed "slotted" seniority system had caused TWA to announce that it would simply operate Ozark's planes with TWA's pilots. Id. at 1527. Thus, "[s]taring unemployment in the face, Ozark's pilots accepted a merger of the seniority lists by date of hire." Id. Later, a class of Ozark's former pilots sued the union for, among other things, violating its DFR.
A similar situation is found in Marshall, wherein a union was sued for a DFR breach due to its failure to negotiate a dovetailed seniority list for a group of yeast workers. See Marshall, 960 F.2d at 1362. The facts show that the yeast workers had been informed by their employer that they would lose their jobs when the plant where they worked was sold and/or closed. Id. Their union subsequently negotiated an agreement giving the yeast workers the right to be transferred to a brewery (also owned by the employer) with modified endtailing — although the union had originally suggested to the yeast workers that seniority would be dovetailed. In finding that the union had not breached its DFR, the court noted that the union used its best efforts to assist the yeast workers who would otherwise have been out of a job, and that the yeast workers themselves ratified the collective bargaining agreement that called for modified endtailing. Id. at 1370.
Plaintiffs' arguments against the ratification defense in the instant case are essentially that: (1) an "oblique" reference to "transfer" of pilots according to the terms of an earlier agreement could not incorporate the challenged seniority agreement into the SWAPA-Morris CBA, (2) Morris pilots were not informed by SWAPA that a vote in favor of the SWAPA-Morris CBA would also ratify their seniority endtailing as outlined in the Letter of Agreement, and (3) even a negative vote on the SWAPA-Morris CBA would not have given Morris pilots the right to reject the seniority integration. See Plaintiffs' Summary Judgment Memo. at pp. 27-28; Plaintiffs' Opposition Memo. at pp. 9-12.
These arguments are unpersuasive for several reasons. First, it appears to the court that Plaintiffs themselves recognized the interplay between the Letter of Agreement and the SWAPA-Morris CBA. Indeed, Plaintiffs' naming of Morris as a defendant appears to contradict their contention that an "oblique" reference to the terms of an earlier agreement did not incorporate the seniority terms of that agreement into the SWAPA-Morris CBA. Plaintiffs' Complaint describes the grounds for Morris' liability thusly:
See Complaint at pp. 11-12 (emphasis added). Based on this statement, and given the limited role Morris appears to have played in this case, it can be surmised that Plaintiffs base Morris' liability at least partially on its status as a party to the SWAPA-Morris CBA — particularly since no evidence has been presented that Morris was involved in negotiations surrounding the Letter of Agreement. If so, Plaintiffs apparently believed that the challenged seniority terms had been incorporated into the SWAPA-Morris CBA, otherwise Morris could not have "similarly participated in and facilitated" SWAPA's alleged breach by "acquies[ing] in and enter[ing] into an agreement which it knew devastated the seniority rights of the Morris Air pilots."
Even if this were not the case, the language of the SWAPA-Morris CBA itself is sufficiently clear to inform Morris pilots that to ratify the CBA was also to ratify the effect of the Letter of Agreement. The SWAPA-Morris CBA clearly states that "the parties to this agreement recognize" that "Morris pilots will be transferred to the parent in accordance with the terms of an agreement between Southwest Airlines and the Association dated January 1, 1994." In view of the extensive oral and written information which the Morris pilots were provided regarding the Letter of Agreement, it would be disingenuous to suggest that they were unaware of either the existence or terms of the afore-mentioned "agreement between Southwest Airlines and the Association." Indeed, the events culminating in the Letter of Agreement were so critical to the Morris pilots' livelihoods that the court must conclude that they knew or should have known every detail contained in that document.
In addition, the SWAPA-Morris CBA states that "[u]pon transfer to Southwest Airlines, Morris Air pilots will become part of the pilot bargaining unit at Southwest Airlines and will be governed by the collective bargaining agreement between the Association and Southwest Airlines." Plaintiffs concede that they knew that the Letter of Agreement was an amendment to the SWAPA-Southwest CBA. See Plaintiffs' Opposition Memo. at p. 5. Thus, if parties to the SWAPA-Morris CBA "recognized" that transfer pilots would be governed by the SWAPA-Southwest CBA, Plaintiffs must have known that ratifying the SWAPA-Morris CBA signified assent to the seniority arrangements contained in the amendment to the SWAPA-Southwest CBA.
Furthermore, there is no evidence — nor have Plaintiffs alleged — that the Morris pilots were excluded from negotiation of the SWAPA-Morris CBA or that either SWAPA or Morris withheld information concerning its contents or effect. It is undisputed that two Morris pilots participated in the negotiation of the SWAPA-Morris CBA as members of the SWAPA team. In addition, two meetings were held to explain the terms of that document, and copies of the proposed SWAPA-Morris CBA were made available to the entire Morris pilot group. There is no evidence suggesting that SWAPA discouraged questions, comments, or objections at those meetings. Thus, in view of the fact that the Morris pilots had extensive prior information regarding the Letter of Agreement, they must have recognized the implications of the seniority arrangement implicit in the SWAPA-Morris CBA.
Moreover, Plaintiffs do not dispute that the specific section of the SWAPA-Morris CBA which is at issue here was explained in the meetings. Although Plaintiffs concede that the explanation was given, however, they argue that Defendants have failed to show that this explanation was sufficient to allow the Morris pilots to make "a knowing and voluntary waiver." See Plaintiffs' Response Memo. at p. 10, n.7. In particular, Plaintiffs contend that "[w]e are left in the dark concerning what Mr. Palmason may have said about Section 1." Id. Despite this assertion, however, Plaintiffs themselves have presented no affidavits or other evidence stating or suggesting that the explanation given was deficient in any way.
Finally, Plaintiffs' remaining contention — that even a negative vote on the SWAPA-Morris CBA would not have given the Morris
In short, Plaintiffs and other Morris pilots were, or should have been, well-informed as to both the Letter of Agreement and the SWAPA-Morris CBA. There are no allegations of irregularities during either SWAPA-Morris CBA negotiations or voting, and relevant information was readily available to all who chose to avail themselves of it. Nor have Plaintiffs presented evidence that the disputed section of the SWAPA-Morris CBA was either incorrectly or inadequately explained. As the Seventh Circuit has stated:
Rakestraw, 981 F.2d at 1534.
Therefore, in consideration of the foregoing and the fact that Plaintiffs' first three causes of action are interrelated,
B. Plaintiff Pratt's Wrongful Termination Claim
Plaintiffs' fourth cause of action alleges that Southwest wrongfully terminated the employment of plaintiff Pratt "because of the filing of the original Complaint, in violation of the Railway Labor Act and public policy." See Complaint at p. 13. Southwest has filed for summary judgment on this claim, contending that: (1) the RLA does not create a private cause of action, (2) neither Arizona nor Texas public policy exceptions to at-will employment apply in this situation, and (3) the undisputed facts show that the Southwest management personnel who terminated Pratt's employment were unaware that this lawsuit had been filed. Plaintiffs counter that: (1) the RLA and the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, allow this claim, (2) the Utah public policy exception to at-will employment allows this claim, and (3) the factual posture of this claim makes it inappropriate for summary judgment.
Regarding the federal prong of Plaintiffs' claim, the court agrees with Southwest's argument that the All Writs Act does not provide an independent basis for jurisdiction over this claim. See, e.g., Commercial Sec. Bank v. Walker Bank & Trust Co., 456 F.2d 1352, 1355 (10th Cir.1972); Telecommunications Research & Action Ctr. v. F.C.C., 750 F.2d 70, 77 (D.C. Cir.1984). Nor does a
Regarding the state-law public policy prong of the claim, the parties appear uncertain as to which state law should apply.
It is well-settled that "pendent [supplemental] jurisdiction is a doctrine of discretion, not of plaintiff's right." United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 1139, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966). Moreover, the justification for the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction:
Id.; see also, 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) (stating that district court may decline exercise of supplemental jurisdiction over state claims if it has dismissed claims over which it had original jurisdiction).
In this case, litigation has not proceeded to the point that Plaintiffs would be prejudiced if this claim was dismissed. Therefore, in the exercise of its discretion, the court declines jurisdiction over plaintiff Pratt's wrongful termination claim, which is grounded in a state-law-based public policy exception to the at-will doctrine.
C. Motion for Class Certification
Also pending before the court is one final motion: Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify a Plaintiff Class or, in the Alternative, to Defer Consideration of Class Certification Issues Until the Damages Phase of This Litigation, Case No. 94-C-660W (Jan. 23, 1995). The court informed counsel by a letter dated March 23, 1995 that it would delay consideration of this motion pending resolution of the instant summary judgment motions.
In view of the fact that all conceivable bases for class certification have been disposed of by this memorandum decision and order, the court finds that Plaintiffs' motion is moot, and it is therefore denied.
For the foregoing reasons, and good cause appearing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
1. Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment is hereby DENIED.
2. Defendant SWAPA's motion for summary judgment is hereby GRANTED.
3. Defendant Morris' motion for summary judgment is hereby GRANTED.
4. Defendant Southwest's motion for summary judgment as to claim number one is hereby GRANTED.
5. Plaintiff Michael Pratt's wrongful termination claim is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
6. Plaintiffs' motion for class certification is hereby DENIED.
DATED this 11th day of August, 1995.
Plaintiffs state that the Confidential Issues list was not presented because "SWAPA representatives threatened to stop the meeting and adamantly refused to discuss or consider such issues." Id. at p. 7 (citing Mosher Depo.); see also Supplemental Declaration of Darvin (Chip) E. Beedle at ¶ 2 (June 14, 1995) [hereinafter Supplemental Beedle Dec.] (stating "SWAPA committee refused to discuss issues of seniority integration and seat protection" at December 16 meeting).
Defendants, however, present two contrary statements. First, John Schnobrich, SWAPA Committee member, testified that:
See Declaration of John Schnobrich at ¶¶ 5-6 (Mar. 28, 1995) [hereinafter Schnobrich Dec.] (attached as Exhibit 3 to SWAPA's Response).
Second, Gary Kerans testified that:
See Kerans Dec. at ¶ 5.
The Morris Committee also presented the SWAPA Committee with a third "sheet of paper" summarizing their "concerns of the merger." See Mosher Depo. at pp. 18-19, 23 (mentioning "Merger and Status Issues" summary).
However, Beedle also states that during the negotiations:
Declaration of Darvin (Chip) E. Beedle at ¶ 9 (Apr. 25, 1995) [hereinafter First Beedle Dec.] (attached as Exhibit 5 to SWAPA's Response); see also Mosher Depo. at p. 46 (stating SWAPA communicated with Morris Committee regarding probation issue).
The court expresses no opinion as to the appropriateness of this term.
Plaintiffs' second and third claims are outgrowths of this alleged breach and assert violations of SWAPA's constitution/bylaws and LMRDA because SWAPA failed "to offer and accord plaintiffs and the other Morris pilots an opportunity to join SWAPA and to participate in a separate ratification vote on the Letter of Agreement in their own bargaining unit." See Complaint at p. 12.