Yesterday, West pilots’ legal counsel Marty Harper and Jennifer Axel, on behalf of Leonidas, LLC, participated in a telephone conference scheduled by Judge Sean Lane, who is the Federal Bankruptcy Judge overseeing the AMR bankruptcy. The purpose of the call was originally set as a scheduling conference and it turned into a discussion of the glaring defects in USAPA’s lawsuit against Leonidas, LLC, (as later amended to include the nine West pilot plaintiffs), which it filed last month in the AMR Bankruptcy case. Also on the call were attorneys representing AMR and the Unsecured Creditors Committee (UCC). USAPA apparently had a bankruptcy attorney on the call, rather than the regular counsel USAPA pilots have come to expect. Each party had an opportunity to speak.
USAPA's “Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief” alleged West Pilot interference with the American/US Airways Merger (and in effect, the AMR bankruptcy). Really, this is another example of USAPA’s effort to drive up the legal costs and prevent West pilots from litigating our claim to the Nicolau Award any further. All parties - except USAPA - agreed with the salient positions outlined in Marty Harper’s letters to USAPA General Counsel Pat Syzmanski [March 26 MH Letter, March 27 USAPA Letter, March 28 MH letter]: (1) West pilots are not seeking to stop the merger; and (2) USAPA simply lacks standing to assert any claims in AMR's bankruptcy. The discussion therefore centered on how best to extinguish USAPA’s complaint. Unfortunately, USAPA would not voluntarily dismiss the case so an idea was floated to all parties that perhaps USAPA and the West Pilots would enter a joint stipulation with Judge Lane’s Court whereby both parties would agree to not interfere with the AMR bankruptcy. It appears as though AMR attorneys, an actual party that has standing in Judge Lane’s Court (unlike USAPA that doesn’t have standing), offered to draft the stipulation, so we are awaiting their proposal.
Nonetheless, we are a bit perplexed how Leonidas, LLC, the West class representatives, or USAPA can even stipulate to something in a court in which no party has any real standing. Regardless, we will go on record saying that we will work constructively with Judge Lane’s Court to bring the East-West seniority dispute to a conclusion in the venue that is proper – the Arizona Federal District Court. All parties - except USAPA - recognized this yesterday. Furthermore, it is clear from recent developments that our claim is ripe; even under the Tashima standard. USAPA itself argued to Judge Lane that the East-West seniority dispute is a matter that needs to be adjudicated now, to which the AMR and UCC attorneys agreed.
What is really happening here is that events are unfolding amidst this US-AMR merger such that the proverbial elephant can’t be ignored any longer; there will be no more kicking the can. A Duty of Fair Representation suit can only be heard in Federal Court, and that is exactly where our DFR case is now – in the Arizona Federal District Court. Of course, none of this would be necessary if US Airways would simply recognize that the Nicolau is the US Airways seniority list. It is because of their feigned neutrality that we are still dealing with this issue six years later.
Resolution to the East-West seniority dispute is really quite simple: (1) take the Nicolau; or (2) wait for a federal court to adjudicate the West DFR. Right now it appears that the second option is how this will proceed. So be it.
Once again, we thank you for your financial support. Remember, Leonidas, LLC will again publish a list of its strongest contributors soon. It is not too late to be recognized for your commitment to our common cause.
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