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IN RE PAN AM/ DELTA AIR LINES

April 14, 1997

IN RE: PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS, INC./ DELTA AIR LINES, INC. PILOT EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION; WALTER B. DUKE, JR., et al, Plaintiffs, - against - AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, et al, Defendants. EDWARD J. SPELLACY, JR., et al., Plaintiffs, -against- AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINSTEIN

 This judgment in favor of defendants ends the trial court's participation in a difficult Multidistrict litigation.

 FACTS

 During the terminal days of the then-bankrupt Pan American Airlines, it sold, under bankruptcy court aegis, the last of its major air routes and hundreds of its remaining planes, agreeing to furnish enough qualified Pan Am pilots to fly those planes as Delta employees. Since too few pilots were qualified, Pan Am agreed to train a sufficient number to meet Delta's requirements.

 The local Airline Pilots Association Negotiating Committee had to make a series of decisions in cooperation with Pan Am on who would be trained. As a result of their determinations those on the committee, together with hundreds of other pilots, were able to obtain employment with Delta as qualified pilots. Scores of other Pan Am pilots were denied that opportunity because they were not given the necessary training.

 PROCEDURAL HISTORY

 Pilots who were unable to obtain employment by Delta brought a number of suits. They were concenrated in the Eastern District of New York by the Multidistrict Panel.

 Some pilots sued Delta Airlines. Their complaints were dismissed because Delta did not decide which Pan Am pilots were to be trained.

 Three groups of pilots sued the Air Line Pilots Association ("ALPA") on the ground that they had been discriminated against by ALPA and that, under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. §§ 151 et. seq., 181 et. seq., they had a right to damages. The groups were denominated at the trial as Duke 1, Duke 2 and Spellacy plaintiffs.

 The case was bifurcated. Tried at one time were all three groups' claims on the issue of liability. The jury found for all plaintiffs.

 Following motions to set aside the verdicts, the court suggested that a mediator attempt to resolve differences among the parties. With the assistance of the mediator, the Honorable Milton Mollen, the Duke 1 and Duke 2 plaintiffs settled with ALPA. Their claims have been dismissed as moot.

 DISMISSAL

 The issue now is whether defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alterative to provide a new trial, should be granted. It is with great renitence that a trial judge approaches a motion to ignore the decision of a well-instructed, well-advised, capable jury. The Spellacy plaintiffs' case should, however, be dismissed for at least three reasons:

 First, insofar as the Spellacy plaintiffs are concerned, the pilots' collective bargaining agreement with Pan Am - which called for training on a seniority basis for operations of Pan Am - was not applicable to the subsequent Delta-Pan Am agreement entered into with the approval of the bankruptcy court to sell aircraft to Delta and to furnish trained pilots. The Delta-Pan Am agreement did not call for the kind of Pan-Am operational decisions covered by the ALPA-Pan Am agreement. As a matter of law, the straight seniority system did not apply to the Spellacy plaintiffs. Bankruptcy, Pan ...


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