approves the transaction, and application of the RLA will not preclude its consummation, then this court would have jurisdiction to consider plaintiffs' complaint. Burlington, 862 F.2d at 1279. As the court in Burlington stated, "the RLA is not rendered nugatory by ICC-approved transactions." Id. Since this court has jurisdiction to enforce the RLA, it would have jurisdiction over a dispute which implicated that statute (that is, a dispute which the ICC had not determined was exempt from the statute).
Although this court could postulate factual variations pursuant to which it would have jurisdiction over this matter, the facts which actually are before this court demonstrate that this controversy is not ripe for adjudication. The ripeness doctrine involves both jurisdictional (does the complaint present a case or controversy as required by Article III) and jurisprudential (should the court defer to other branches of the federal government) issues. See generally Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction 2d §§ 3532 et seq.
GTW has proposed a lease transaction to the ICC. Plaintiffs fear the adverse impact of the lease. The ICC could decide to deny GTW's proposal. Plaintiffs will have lost nothing in that case. The ICC could also decide to allow the proposed transaction, but hold the parties subject to the RLA. Again, plaintiffs would emerge unscathed. If, on the other hand, the ICC allows the lease, and decides that it is necessary to suspend the RLA for purposes of that transaction, the plaintiffs will suffer the harm they seek here to avoid.
However, the ICC has, so far, done nothing. It does not expect to rule until July of this year. Until that time, the plaintiffs have suffered no harm. The ripeness doctrine exists "to prevent the courts, through avoidance of premature adjudication, from entangling themselves in abstract disagreements over administrative policies . . . ." Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148, 87 S. Ct. 1507, 18 L. Ed. 2d 681 (1966). A court should address the question by evaluating "both the fitness of the issues for judicial decision and the hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration." Id. at 149. There is no issue yet presented for this court to consider, since the ICC has not acted. There is, for the same reason, no harm accruing to plaintiffs pending the ICC's decision.
Plaintiffs present a litany of "undisputed" facts which they claim make this case ripe. GTW does not dispute that, should the ICC approve the transaction, it will abolish 28 jobs. CN does not dispute that it will not rehire the 28 displaced workers. Nor does CN dispute that it will not adopt the plaintiffs collective bargaining agreements with GTW. What plaintiffs cannot escape, however, is that these "undisputed facts" have not yet occurred, and are contingent upon the occurrence of another event.*The facts cited by plaintiff simply do not meet the Abbott Laboratories standard.
Because the case is currently not ripe for adjudication, the motion to dismiss is granted.
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