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Bader v. Air Line Pilots Ass'n, International

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 9, 2015

DOUGLAS BADER, CHARLES DOYLE, and RALPH J. RINA, Plaintiff,
v.
AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INTERNATIONAL, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Douglas Bader, Charles Doyle, Ralph Rina, Plaintiffs: Kathy Dianne Bailey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bailey Law, Pc, Alexandria, VA; David A. Axelrod, David A. Axelrod & Associates P.C., Chicago, IL.

For Air Line Pilots Association International, Defendant: Granville Clayton Warner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Air Line Pilots Association, Herndon, VA; Andrew L. Goldman, Rami N Fakhouri, Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP, Chicago, IL; Matthew E. Babcock, PRO HAC VICE, Air Line Pilots Association, International, Herndon, VA; Suzanne Lynn Kalfus, PRO HAC VICE, Air Line Pilots Association, International, Legal Department, Herndon, VA.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HON. JORGE L. ALONSO, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs, Douglas Bader, Charles Doyle and Ralph Rina, have brought this action against their labor union, defendant Air Line Pilots Association, International (" ALPA" ), claiming age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), breach of the duty of fair representation (" DFR" ) implied by the Railway Labor Act, breach of contract under state law, and tortious interference with a business expectancy under state law. ALPA has moved for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c), contending that plaintiffs' claims are legally insufficient, barred by the statute of limitations or preempted by federal law. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs were all Pilot Instructor/Evaluators (" I/Es" ) at Continental Airlines (" Continental" ) when Continental merged with United. United's longstanding practice, contrary to Continental's, is to require all I/Es to be " line-qualified," i.e., to be qualified to fly a revenue-producing flight carrying paying passengers. Federal Aviation Administration (" FAA" ) regulations require all line-qualified pilots to be under the age of 65.

After the merger, ALPA and United negotiated a collective bargaining agreement, the United Pilots Agreement (" UPA" ). The UPA, consistent with United's pre-merger practice, required all I/Es to be line-qualified. On December 18, 2012, ALPA and United implemented the line-qualification requirement via Letter of Agreement 18 (Compl., Ex. 2), which effectively terminated I/Es such as the plaintiffs, who had reached the FAA mandatory retirement age, after a 12-month grace period.

ANALYSIS

I. LEGAL STANDARDS

Rule 12(c) permits a party to move for judgment on the pleadings, which consist of the " the complaint, the answer, and any written instruments attached as exhibits." N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc v. City of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c)). A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is governed by the same standards as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Hayes v. City of Chi., 670 F.3d 810, 813 (7th Cir. 2012).

" A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must " give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (ellipsis omitted).

Under federal notice-pleading standards, a plaintiff's " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Stated differently, " a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting

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Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). " In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, [courts must] accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, but [they] 'need[ ] not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.'" Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)).

II. ADEA CLAIMS

A. Union Liability for Money Damages Under ADEA

ALPA claims that judgment should be granted in its favor on plaintiffs' ADEA claim because labor unions cannot be liable ...


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