United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
JOHN P. BENNETT, Plaintiff,
PUBLIC LAW BOARD NO. 7694; CSX TRANSPORTATION; and BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND TRAINMEN, Defendant.
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court are Defendants Public Law Board No. 7694 (the
"Board") and the Brotherhood of Locomotive
Engineers and Trainmen's (the "Brotherhood")
motions to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. (Docs. 6, 16.)
Plaintiff has failed to respond to the motions; with the time
for filing a response in opposition having expired, the
motion is ripe for consideration. Thus, the Board and the
Brotherhood's motions are deemed unopposed. LR 7.5, SDGa.
("Failure to respond within the applicable time period
shall indicate that there is no opposition to a
motion."). For the following reasons, the Board and the
Brotherhood's motions are GRANTED.
facts of Plaintiff's complaint are as follows. Plaintiff
was employed as a train engineer for Defendant CSX
Transportation ("CSX"). (Compl., Doc. 1, ¶ 8.)
On January 5, 2015, Plaintiff was "taken out of
service" and eventually terminated for operating a train
at ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
(Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) In May 2015, Plaintiff
appealed his termination to the Board, an independent
grievance arbitration tribunal created pursuant to the
Railway Labor Act (the "Railway Act"), 45 U.S.C.
§ 151 et seg. (Id. ¶ 10.) On July 15,
2015, the Board upheld Plaintiff's termination.
(Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff alleges that the
Board's decision was based on fraudulent evidence and
evidence of Plaintiff's conduct that was more than three
years old. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 15.)
13, 2017, Plaintiff initiated this action for review of the
Board's decision under the Railway Act. In addition to
CSX, Plaintiff named the Board and the Brotherhood as
defendants. Plaintiff asks the Court to vacate the
Board's decision, reinstate Plaintiff, and award
Plaintiff damages for lost wages. The Board and the
Brotherhood now move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint.
(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a
complaint to contain "a short plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, "
which gives a defendant notice of the claim and its grounds.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a
complaint must include enough facts that demonstrate the
plaintiff's right to relief is more than speculative, and
those facts must state a plausible claim to relief.
Id. at 570. While a complaint does not need to be
bursting with factual allegations, there must be something
more than a bare bone recital of the elements of a cause of
action. Id. at 555.
a complaint should not be denied "unless it appears
beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of
circumstances that would entitle him to relief."
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).
Furthermore, the Court must accept all factual allegations as
true and construe them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Belanger v. Salvation Army, 556 F.3d
1153, 1155 (11th Cir. 2009).
preliminary matter, Plaintiff's claim against the
Brotherhood fails to comply with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8(a). Beyond identifying the Board as a defendant
in this action, Plaintiff fails to allege any facts showing
that the Brotherhood engaged in conduct that would give rise
to a cause of action. Thus, Plaintiff has failed to state a
claim against the Brotherhood.
Plaintiff's claim against the Board pursuant to the
Railway Act fails as a matter of law. The Railway Act was
passed in response to a concern that labor disputes could
disrupt the nation's railroads. 45 U.S.C. 151a. In that
vein, the Railway Act creates a compulsory arbitration
process to resolve disputes between a railroad carrier and
its employees. 45 U.S.C. 153 First. The arbitration process
is administered by the National Railroad Adjustment Board
("NRAB"), a permanent arbitration board established
by the Railway Act. Id.; Bhd. of Locomotive
Eng'rs & Trainmen Gen. Comm. of Adjustment CSX
Transp. N. Lines v. CSX Transp., Inc., 522 F.3d 1190,
1193 n.1 (11th Cir. 2008) . Because the NRAB has limited
funds and is often years in back log, the parties may
alternatively agree to have their dispute adjudicated by a
Public Law Board ("PLB"). 45 U.S.C. § 153
Second; Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers v. CSX
Transp., Inc., 446 F.3d 714, 719 (7th Cir. 2006)
(observing that "the major purpose of public law boards
is to relieve workload pressure on the NRAB."). A PLB is
an independent tribunal comprised of members chosen by the
carrier and the employee's union. 45 U.S.C. § 153
Second. Although the board's decision is normally final,
the Railway Act allows the district court to review the
board's decisions upon petition of an aggrieved party. 45
U.S.C. § 153 First (p), Second. Accordingly, the instant
action "is essentially a continuation of the proceedings
before the Board." See Sys. Fed.'n No. 30,
Railway Emp. Dep't, AFL-CIO v. Braidwood, 284
F.Supp. 607, 610 (N.D. 111. 1968).
Board argues that it is not a proper party to this case
because it is an independent tribunal. Courts have
unanimously agreed that the NRAB cannot be held liable
pursuant to the Railway Act. See, e.g.,
Mitchell v. Union Pac. R. Co., 408 F.3d 318, 320
(7th Cir. 2005); Radin v. United States, 699 F.2d
681, 686 (4th Cir. 1983); Skidmore v. Consolidated Rail
Corp., 619 F.2d 157, 159 (2d Cir. 1979). These courts
have reasoned that the NRAB is an independent tribunal with
no stake in the cases it decides. Skidmore, 619 F.2d
at 159. Holding the NRAB liable would also frustrate the goal
of creating an independent tribunal. Oilman v. Special
Bd. of Adjustment No. 1063, 2015 WL 602386, at *5 (W.D.
N.Y. Mar. 14, 2005) P[I]n the recruitment of qualified
arbitrators to serve on NRAB panels it would be a serious
hindrance if members were subject to lawsuits by dissatisfied
carriers or employees."). This reasoning is equally
applicable to a PLB like the Board. Oilman v. Special Bd.
of Adjustment No. 1063, 527 F.3d 239, 251 (2d Cir.
2008). Thus, because the Board is an independent tribunal
with no stake in the outcome of Plaintiff's case, it is
not a proper party under the Railway Act.
Complaint fails to allege any facts that would support a
cause of action against the Brotherhood. Therefore,
Plaintiff's claim against the Brotherhood must be
dismissed. Plaintiff's claim against the Board must also
be dismissed because the ...