Friday, August 19, 2011

ALPA Found GUILTY in TWA Case

The DPA lawyer uses the "Expert Report of Lee Seeham" as "evidence" against ALPA. The interesting fact is that the court refused to let Seeham testify. Why didn't the court let Seeham testify against ALPA?

They further assert:

potential financial damages that could exceed the $1.2 Billion requested by the harmed TWA pilots.

We get a look at the other side from a briefing given to the MEC in it's regular meeting this week:

Mr. Cohen briefed the MEC on recent legal developments in a lawsuit against the Association, commonly referred to as Brady v. ALPA.

The lawsuit arose out of American‘s purchase of TWA assets when TWA was in bankruptcy and facing the real possibility of going out of business. The TWA MEC was very supportive of the transaction because it meant jobs at a strong carrier for TWA pilots. The TWA MEC voted to waive the pilots‘ contractual right to a seniority arbitration because it was demanded by American management as a condition for going forward with the transaction. Later, after the seniority lists were integrated, a group of former TWA pilots who had gone to American, including former MEC members, alleged that the waiver decision was forced on them by ALPA. ALPA has argued that there is no evidence to support this "conspiracy theory" and that all of ALPA‘s actions were geared toward supporting the MEC‘s own decisions to make sure the transaction went forward so that the TWA pilots would get jobs at American.

The lawsuit was filed in 2002 and went to trial in June of this year. It took so long to get to this point for several reasons. First, the lawsuit was dismissed by the district court on statute of limitations grounds and then returned to the district court when the Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal. Second, the plaintiffs hired and fired several sets of lawyers. Third, there was delay caused by dissension among the plaintiffs which resulted in an individual being removed as a named plaintiff.

The trial lasted about six weeks and a verdict was issued on July 13. The jury found that: (1) ALPA had violated its duty of fair representation; (2) As a result of this violation, "some" TWA pilots were harmed in an unspecified way.

There has been some very misleading publicity, especially from some legal professionals who make their living attempting to represent independent pilot groups. Contrary to assertions, the verdict is one step along the way of a long legal process that has a long way to go. ALPA‘s lawyers have filed a number of motions. They believe that the verdict is not supported by the evidence and is contrary to the applicable law. Additionally, there has been no process for determination of damages. Any such process would not even start until after ALPA‘s motions are ruled upon. At that time, the judge would order a period of discovery (document production and depositions) to be followed by another trial with respect to plaintiffs‘ damage claims. At that time, the issues to be determined would include whether and to what extent damages may be ordered and for whom—or at all. Any dollar amounts or descriptions of the amount of damages are pure unsupported, speculation.

Assuming the damage trial were to draw to a conclusion, ALPA would have the right to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Even if damages were assessed, ALPA has substantial insurance coverage, precisely for this type of situation.

Finally, ALPA has never assessed its membership to pay for litigation, awards, verdicts or settlements. There is no reason to assume that it would do so in this case.

We will make the popcorn!