Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Saturday, January 30, 2010

ALPA Agrees To Largest Ever Duty of Fair Representation Settlement

United Airline Pilots Union to Pay $44 M To Settle Suit By Some Members is an interesting Chicago Crains article dated Jan. 21, 2010.  The article states that this settlement is the largest DFR settlement in history. As the article states:

The pilots union at United Airlines has agreed to pay $44 million to about 2,000 senior pilots who claimed they were shortchanged by a lump-sum financial deal the union cut to get the Chicago-based carrier out of Bankruptcy Court four years ago.

The settlement puts to rest a class-action lawsuit brought by several former leaders of the union, which potentially could have cost the Air Line Pilots Assn. nearly $200 million had it gone to trial.

Legal experts believe it to be the largest settlement ever in a case based on the “duty of fair representation,” an area of labor law where courts usually give union leaders a lot of leeway to define what’s fair.

“That’s a substantial settlement,” said Martin Malin, a Chicago Kent College of Law professor who has written a reference book for lawyers on the duty of fair representation. “It sounds like the union had a lot to be worried about.”

There is a recent court decision where the court denied ALPA summary judgment. My guess is that this court decision is what lead the parties to settle. Mansfield v. ALPA, 2009 WL 2386281 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 29, 2009), Download Denial.Motion.Summary.Judgment.7-29-09

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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