American Airlines Flow-Thru Pilots Coalition et al v. Allied Pilots Association et al

Filing 79

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg on 9/16/16. (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/16/2016)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 AMERICAN AIRLINES FLOW-THRU PILOTS COALITION, et al., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Plaintiffs, ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION v. 12 Case No. 15-cv-03125-RS 13 ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION, et al., 14 Defendants. 15 16 The motion for summary judgment brought by defendant Allied Pilots Association 17 (“APA”) was granted with respect to all matters alleged in the complaint other than those relating 18 to “Letter G” of the 2015 collective bargaining agreement. As to the determination that the so- 19 called “Letter G” claims could go forward, APA seeks reconsideration on the sole ground that, in 20 its view, plaintiffs did not meet their burden to show a triable issue of fact as to causation. 21 Specifically, APS argues that plaintiffs presented no direct evidence that American Airlines would 22 have agreed to extend “LOS credits” to them, even had APA negotiated for such a benefit, and 23 that the Court failed adequately to take into account the unusually high burden for establishing 24 causation reflected in Acri v. International Assoc. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, 781 F.2d 25 1393 (9th Cir. 1986) and Ackley v. Western Conference of Teamsters, 958 F.2d 1463 (9th Cir. 26 1992). 27 28 In response, plaintiffs argue, among other things, that Acri and Ackley are inapplicable here as neither involved alleged discriminatory conduct by the union. As noted in Bishop v. Air Line 1 Pilots Ass’n, Int’l, 1998 WL 474076, at *17 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 1998) that distinction is not 2 dispositive. Id. (“While Acri and Ackley involved an alleged misrepresentation and an alleged 3 nondisclosure, respectively, nothing in those decisions suggests that the causation requirement 4 stated therein was limited to misrepresentation cases.”) That said, the concurring opinion in Acri 5 pointed out that the plaintiffs in that case were arguing the union could have achieved a better 6 result than the agreement it reached with management to end a strike. “Determining what would 7 have happened had a strike continued is far different from determining what would have occurred 8 had a matter been submitted to arbitration, or even what the result of good faith bargaining might 9 have been.” Acri, 781 F.2 at 1399 (Rheinhardt, J., concurring). Furthermore, the concurrence explained the Acri decision would preclude most claims of 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 the type before that court because, 12 a union member can establish liability only if he can show that had the strike continued, the employer would have acceded to the union’s requests. This is a fact that is ordinarily simply not susceptible of objective proof. 13 14 15 16 Id. Moreover, in Acri, “counsel for plaintiffs frankly acknowledged he would be unable to 17 offer such proof.” Id. This case, in contrast, does not involve a strike, or speculation that 18 management might have offered better terms had a strike continued. See, id., (“[i]t will almost 19 always be far too speculative to attempt to show that an employer who has agreed to a particular 20 collective bargaining agreement following a strike would have granted one or more specific 21 additional benefits had the strike continued for a while longer.”) Rather, here the question is what 22 the result of good faith bargaining might have been, on behalf of a subset of union members who 23 are claiming the agreement discriminates against them without adequate justification. Plaintiffs 24 certainly have not conceded they will be unable to prove their case. 25 As acknowledged in the summary judgment order, plaintiffs undoubtedly “face an uphill 26 battle to show that American would have agreed to extend LOS credit to them had the Union 27 pursued it.” It is also true that plaintiffs offered no direct evidence that American would have 28 CASE NO. 2 15-cv-03125-RS 1 acceded to such demands. Both sides, however, essentially relied on arguments as to what 2 inferences could reasonably be drawn from all the circumstances. While APA proffered 3 compelling explanations as to why pilots in the position of plaintiffs had never received LOS 4 credit in the past and therefore likely would not have been given it in this instance, plaintiffs 5 showed how arguments could have been made that extending LOS credit to them under the 6 circumstances here would have been equitable and appropriate. Although the question was close, 7 the record did not permit a determination as a matter of law that plaintiffs cannot meet their 8 burden to show causation. There has not been a showing that standards for reconsideration of that 9 conclusion have been satisfied.1 Accordingly, the motion for reconsideration is denied. APA’s letter brief request for a 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 discovery protective order pending reconsideration is denied as moot, however the parties are 12 expected to cooperate in stipulating to a reasonable extension of time for APA to provide 13 discovery responses, should it be necessary. Within 20 days of the date of this order, the parties 14 shall provide an updated joint proposal for providing notice to the class and otherwise managing 15 further proceedings in this litigation. 16 17 IT IS SO ORDERED. 18 19 Dated: September 16, 2016 ______________________________________ ______________________________________ __ __ __ _ _ __ RICHARD SEEBORG United States District Judge 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 1 There was no “manifest failure to consider” either law or facts. As explained above, while APA is correct that Acri and Ackley support imposing a high burden on plaintiffs, neither decision goes as far as APA suggests to make causation nearly unprovable, at least outside the strike context. Similarly, while APA disagrees with the Court’s reading of the factual record, it has pointed to nothing that was simply overlooked. Finally, neither side has shown a basis to reopen the record and consider additional evidence that was not previously presented. 28 CASE NO. 3 15-cv-03125-RS

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