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AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOC. v. FEDERAL EXPRESS CORP.

March 30, 2004.

AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOC., Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL EXPRESS CORP., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROYCE LAMBERTH, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the Court is the defendant's motion for summary judgment [12], requesting disposition in its favor and dismissal of the plaintiff's action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b), and the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment [11], requesting an order directing the defendant to arbitrate Grievance No. 02-03.

Upon consideration of the motions, the applicable law and the record in this case, the Court finds there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and that the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Therefore, the Court will grant the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, deny the plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, and dismiss the action.

  BACKGROUND

 I. Procedural History

  On September 25, 2002, the plaintiff, the Air Line Pilots Association ("ALPA"), filed the instant action against the defendant, Federal Express Corporation ("FedEx"), pursuant to the Page 2 Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), 45. U.S.C. § 151-188, seeking injunctive relief to compel arbitration of a dispute purportedly arising under the collective bargaining agreement ("Agreement") between the plaintiff and the defendant. After an extended period of discovery, both parties filed motions for summary judgment on August 15, 2003. Subsequent oppositions and replies were also filed by both parties.

 I. Undisputed Facts

  Prior to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, non-FedEx pilots ("offline pilots") had "jumpseat" privileges by way of industry practice and a "Reciprocal Jumpseat Agreement." On September 18, 2001, the government issued an order restricting cockpit jumpseat access to employees of an air carrier. See United States Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration, Subject: Threat to U.S. Aircraft Operators, Security Directive No. 108-01-03F (September 18, 2001). Soon thereafter, FedEx revoked both the cockpit jumpseat privileges as well as the "supernumerary jumpseat" privileges previously extended to offline pilots. "Supernumerary" jumpseats, jumpseats that are located outside of the cockpit, are at issue in this action. ALPA filed a grievance seeking arbitration of the issue of offline pilots' access to FedEx supernumerary jumpseats and an order reinstating jumpseat privileges for offline pilots. FedEx refused to process the grievance, maintaining that the issue of offline pilots' access to supernumerary jumpseats is nonarbitrable under the Agreement, and not otherwise covered by contract. At issue in the instant case is whether FedEx is required to arbitrate a grievance concerning the access of non-FedEx pilots to jumpseats on FedEx aircraft. Page 3

  APPLICABLE LAW

 I. Procedural

  Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, summary judgment is appropriate when the motion papers, affidavits, and other submitted evidence demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. V. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Whether a fact is "material" is determined in light of the applicable substantive law invoked by the action. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In light of the applicable substantive law, a "genuine issue of material fact" is a fact that is determinative of a claim or defense, and therefore, affects the outcome of the case. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Because the Court does not sit as a fact-finder, it is precluded from weighing evidence or finding facts and must draw all inferences and resolve all doubts in favor of the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In the case of cross motions for summary judgment, the Court must consider each motion separately, with each movant bearing the burden of supporting its motion. See Initiative and Referendum Institute v. U.S. Postal Serv., 116 F. Supp.2d 65, 69 (D.D.C. 2000). Disposition by summary judgment is precluded when determination of a genuine issue of material fact might result in a reasonable jury returning a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Morgan v. Federal Home Loan Mortg. Corp., 328 F.3d 647, 651 (D.C. Cir. 2003).

 II. Substantive

  An issue of substantive arbitrability — whether the parties' dispute involves subject matter that is within the ambit of the arbitration agreement — is to be decided by a court, not an Page 4 arbitrator. See AT &T Technologies, Inc. v. Communications Workers of America, 475 U.S. 643, 649 (1986). Arbitrators are not vested with such power because their authority to resolve disputes exists only by virtue of the parties' advance agreement to submit themselves and certain subject matter to arbitration. See AT&T, 475 U.S. at 648-49. Although doubts about the arbitrability of an issue should be resolved in favor of coverage, see Northwest Airlines v. ALPA, 808 F.2d 76, 82 (D.C. Cir. 1987), a court may find that an issue is nonarbitrable when there is "positive assurance that the ...


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