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Held v. American Airlines

January 31, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman


Plaintiff Robert S. Held filed a three-count, 488-paragraph, pro se*fn1 complaint against defendants American Airlines, Inc. ("American"), Allied Pilots Association ("APA"), John W. Jirschele, James G. Sovich, James C. Condes, and Martin G. Reedy, alleging: wrongful termination in violation of the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), and public policy (Count I); breach of duty to fairly represent (Count II); and wrongful interference with employment (Count III). Plaintiff has moved for leave to amend his complaint to: (1) correct typographical errors; (2) remove individual defendants Sovich and Condes; and (3) add as Count IV a violation of the LMRDA by defendant APA. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), defendant American moves to dismiss Count I, and defendants Jirschele, Sovich, Condes, and Reedy move to dismiss Count III. Defendant APA moves to dismiss plaintiff's claim for punitive damages under Count II.

For the reasons stated below, the court permits plaintiff to amend his complaint to correct typographical errors and remove individual defendants Sovich and Condes. Plaintiff may not amend his complaint to add as Count IV a violation of the LMRDA. Further, Counts I and III of the complaint are dismissed, and plaintiff may not seek punitive damages under Count II.


Plaintiff was hired as a pilot by defendant American in 1988. Throughout his career with American, plaintiff was a member of defendant APA, the certified collective bargaining representative of pilots employed only by defendant American. The terms of plaintiff's employment were contained in a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between defendant American and defendant APA. In 1993, defendant APA established an electronic bulletin board entitled "Challenge & Response" ("C&R"), a password-protected online forum for members of defendant APA. In 1998, defendant APA incorporated C&R into its website,; C&R remained accessible only by password. Members of defendant APA can access the APA website from computers in defendant American's work environment, but the C&R portion of the website cannot be accessed from any computers connected to defendant American's network.

On January 21, 2005, members of defendant APA began a dialogue about Gary Weller, the elected Chairman of defendant APA's Appeal Board. Union members were unhappy because Weller had complained to defendant American about a union member's exercise of off- duty, off-premises political speech instead of using internal union methods for dispute resolution. On January 22, plaintiff emailed the following message to C&R from his home computer:

Gary "little girl" Weller is becoming a very well known child these days.

I'm not sure why a homosexual faggot retard would gain such notice. Quite frankly, I am turned off by dyke, low life assholes, such as he is. But, perhaps there are those that are attracted to such a creature. We are each free to chose [sic] the type of sexual activity we want. Ut why anyone would be attracted to that part of the body which produces excrement is way beyond me, but who am I to judge? Seriously.

Some things in life are certain. My opinion about the fag Weller is easy and presumably a common belief among us.

I have come to the above conclusions because I believe Gary "little girl" Weller, and his cronies, have misused and abused the political process. The small child has run to AMR (again) after he skinned his knee. And his little girl whining is, honestly, at this point quite annoying. Someone, not sure who, should give him a pacifier and a new skirt so we can move own to true union issues.

I hope someone can comfort the little girl, so that the union can move on to union business. I heard there are a couple of thousand of us on the street, and the union wants to discuss our pension plan (scary in and of itself).

I give anyone legally accessing C&R permission to repost, retransmit or make any use of these words they see fit.

I'll keep it short for now. After reading about Gary "little girl" Weller going back to AA (or did he put a friend up to it this time), I have to go take a shower.

Rob Held P.S. Wasn't there a coward who works with the little girl on the APA Appeal Board who popped up on here once and then disappeared? I forgot his name.*fn3

Plaintiff alleges that defendant Martin G. Reedy, a supervisory pilot, forwarded plaintiff's posting via fax to defendant John Jirschele, the Director of Flight at defendant American's Chicago base, where plaintiff was stationed. Plaintiff further alleges that defendants Sovich and Condes assisted in the delivery of plaintiff's text to defendant Jirschele. At the time of the incident, defendant Sovich was the elected Chairman of defendant APA's unit at defendant American's Boston base; defendant Condes was the elected vice-Chairman of defendant APA's unit at defendant American's Chicago base. Defendants Sovich and Condes were members of defendant APA's Board of Directors. Plaintiff maintains that Executive Members of defendant APA, such as Jirschele, and all management pilots, such as Condes and Sovich, did not have authority to access C&R at any point.

According to plaintiff, defendant Jirschele received a second copy of plaintiff's C&R post when defendant Sovich sent an official union communication to the members of defendant APA's Board of Directors via e-mail called "Policing our own." Such official communications are available for viewing on defendant APA's website by all members of APA and are viewable and printable within defendant American's workplace.*fn4

On February 8, 2005, plaintiff received a fax copy of a letter from defendant Jirschele. Attached to the fax were the original fax sent to Jirschele containing plaintiff's post and the three-page printout from defendant APA's website containing defendant Sovich's "Policing our own" message. The letter indicated that defendant Jirschele was suspending plaintiff from work with pay pending an investigation into whether plaintiff's ...

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