United States District Court, D. Columbia
AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL, Plaintiff, Counter
Defendant: Granville Clayton Warner, LEAD ATTORNEYS, AIR LINE
PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INTERNATIONAL, Legal Department, Herndon,
VA; Jonathan Asher Cohen, AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION,
INTERNATIONAL, Legal Department, Washington, DC.
FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION, Defendant, Counter Claimant:
David R. Broderdorf, II, Thomas Edward Reinert, Jr., LEAD
ATTORNEYS, MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS, LLP, Washington, DC;
David Knox, PRO HAC VICE, FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION,
C. LAMBERTH, United States District Judge.
case, plaintiff, Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l
(" ALPA" ), brings an action against Federal
Express Corporation (" FedEx" ) seeking to compel
FedEx's compliance with an arbitration award issued by a
System Board of Adjustment (" System Board" or
" Board" ). Compl. 1. FedEx responds with a
counterclaim against ALPA, seeking a declaratory judgment
that its current dispute with ALPA qualifies as a "
minor dispute" under the Railway Labor Act ("
RLA" ), 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., which the System
Board has exclusive jurisdiction to resolve under Section 204
of the RLA, 45 U.S.C. § 184. This matter is before the
Court on plaintiff's motion for judgment on the
pleadings, or for summary judgment in the alternative, and on
defendant's motion for summary judgment.
following reasons and after consideration of the parties'
briefing and relevant legal standards, ALPA's motion for
judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, motion for
summary judgment will be DENIED, and FedEx's motion for
summary judgment will be GRANTED.
FedEx is a corporation engaged in the business of worldwide
package delivery and is considered a " common carrier by
air" engaged in the business of providing air services
in interstate commerce under the RLA, 45 U.S.C. § 181.
Compl. 1-2; Answer 5.
ALPA is an unincorporated labor organization and is the
exclusive bargaining representative of pilots employed by
FedEx. Compl. 1; Answer 5. ALPA and FedEx are parties to a
collective bargaining agreement (" CBA" ),
effective 2011, which establishes the wages, benefits, and
working conditions of FedEx pilots. Compl. 3; Answer 2. The
CBA specifically governs the assignment of flying duties to
all active pilots at FedEx. Def.'s SOMF 1, ¶ 2.
furtherance of Section 204 of the RLA, Section 21 of the CBA
establishes an arbitration panel-the System Board-to issue
final and binding decisions regarding disputes " growing
out of grievances, or out of the interpretation or
application of agreements concerning rates of pay, rules, or
working conditions." Pl.'s SOMF 2, ¶ 6.
hired Captain Patricia Ahneman as a pilot in 1990 and
terminated her employment in June 2013 for (1) "
operating FedEx aircraft without being in possession of a
valid medical certificate during 2008 and 2009" in a
manner " 'without justification, inexcusable and
constituted intentional or reckless disregard' of FAA
regulations, FedEx rules and the CBA," and (2) providing
" dishonest testimony" in the internal hearing
prior to her termination. Def.'s SOMF 2, ¶ 7.
challenged her termination, and the System Board heard the
dispute in September 2013. Compl. 4, ¶ 14; Answer 8,
¶ 14. The Board issued a final Decision and Award
(" Award" ) in November 2013 and sustained
Ahneman's grievance. Compl. 4, ¶ 15; Answer 6,
¶ 7. It held that " [t]he grievant shall forthwith,
no later than 10 days from the date of this decision, be
reinstated to her former position and made whole."
the 10-day period, FedEx presented Ahneman with a baseline
payment and reinstated her to her former position: an active
pilot in not operationally qualified (" NOQ" )
status, under which pilots are paid but not assigned flying
duties. Def.'s SOMF 3-4. Ahneman had entered NOQ paid
status in December 2012 after failing a line check and
remained in this position until her termination in June 2013.
the Board's Award, FedEx has also allowed Ahneman to bid
for and be awarded " pay only" schedules that
provide around $20,000 in wage-based compensation each month.
Id. at 5, ¶ 2. In sum, as of the initiation of
this litigation, Ahneman has received over $100,000 in
backpay and over $250,000 in ongoing compensation. She has
also received all benefits to which active pilots are
entitled. Id. at 6, ¶ 23.
two months after the Board issued the Award, an ALPA
representative asked FedEx when Ahneman could enter a
training program and exit paid NOQ status. Id. at 6,
¶ 27. FedEx promptly responded that the issue was "
still under review" (Tice Supp. Dec. ¶ 10) and
later informed ALPA that FedEx was discussing whether it
would be willing to assign Ahneman flight duties due to
safety concerns. Id. ¶ 11.
February 2014, FedEx made the decision not to retrain Ahneman
or assign her flight duties for the remainder of her career
because of safety and operational concerns. Id.
¶ 15; see also id. 20 (noting that
Ahneman will turn sixty-five in October 2016 and thus will
become legally ineligible to pilot the aircraft used in
FedEx's operations). FedEx asserts that these concerns
were based on Ahneman's " employment and training
record" and were " distinct from the basis of her
June 2013 termination and the System Board Award."
Def.'s SOMF 7, ¶ 33.
current dispute between ALPA and FedEx arose from this
decision by FedEx to not assign Ahneman flying duties and to
leave Ahneman in her former position of paid NOQ status. ALPA
contends that Ahneman has not been fully reinstated because
she has not been permitted to fly. In later memoranda before
this Court, ALPA also argues that Ahneman has not been "
made whole" because FedEx's refusal to assign her
flights duties has supposedly caused a diminution of her
potential earnings. See Pl.'s Opp'n
Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 6 (" As a FedEx pilot flying
its aircraft, Captain Ahneman could have earned additional
compensation under various provisions of the CBA." ).
FedEx informed ALPA of its decision to not assign Ahneman
flying duties, the parties engaged in a settlement discussion
in attempt to resolve all claims and issues. Tice Supp. Dec.
¶ 19. No agreement was reached, however, and ALPA
initiated this litigation in June 2014.
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that " [a]fter
the pleadings are closed . . . a party may move for judgment
on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A motion for
judgment on the pleadings should only be granted " where
it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set
of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to
relief." Schuchart v. La Taberna Del Alabardero,
Inc., 365 F.3d 33, 35, 361 U.S.App.D.C. 121 (D.C. Cir.
2004) (internal citation omitted); see also
Konah v. District of Columbia, 915 F.Supp.2d 7, 18
(D.D.C. 2013) (" A motion for judgment on the pleadings
will be granted if the movant shows, at the close of the
pleadings, that no issue of material fact remains to be
resolved, and that he or she is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." ).
to the Rule 12(b)(6) standard, seeRobinson-Reeder v. Am. Council on Educ., 532
F.Supp.2d 6, 12 (D.D.C. 2008), aff'd, 417
Fed.Appx. 4 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (" The appropriate standard
for reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings is the
same as that applied to a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted." ), this Court will dismiss a complaint
under Rule 12(c) if the complaint does not contain sufficient
factual allegations to " state a claim that relief is
plausible on its face." Bell A. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d
929 (2007). A complaint is considered " plausible on its
face" if it " pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663, 129 ...