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Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Emples. Div./IBT v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 11, 2014

BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES DIVISION/IBT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

Argued October 31, 2013.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 10 C 7425 - Virginia M. Kendall, Judge.

For BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES DIVISION/IBT, Plaintiff - Appellant: Harry W. Zanville, Attorney, San Diego, CA.

For NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Defendant - Appellee: James S. Whitehead, Attorney, SIDLEY AUSTIN LLP, Chicago, IL.

Before BAUER, MANION, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 809

Bauer, Circuit Judge.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employees (" the Brotherhood" ) filed for a permanent injunction to ban Norfolk Southern Railway Company's (" Norfolk" ) use of accident reconstruction reports in employee disciplinary investigations unless Norfolk adheres to additional pre-hearing procedures. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found that it lacked jurisdiction to grant the Brotherhood's request and dismissed the action. The Brotherhood appealed.

I. BACKGROUND

The Brotherhood represents members of the maintenance-of-way craft employed by Norfolk. Maintenance-of-way members work to ensure that railways remain clear, safe, and navigable. This lawsuit

Page 810

arose after Norfolk fired four of its employees, all Brotherhood members, because they made false statements about injuries they suffered while on duty. The parties' collective bargaining agreements entitle the Brotherhood members to an investigation before Norfolk takes any disciplinary action. The Brotherhood and Norfolk dispute what evidentiary rules and pre-hearing procedures are required in those investigations. Their collective bargaining agreements and the Railway Labor Act govern the disciplinary process. In this case, the Brotherhood does not seek to overturn any prior disciplinary actions, only to impose new procedures that it believes will rectify problems in the Norfolk disciplinary proceedings.

A. The Collective Bargaining Agreements

In 2001, the Brotherhood and Norfolk amended their existing collective bargaining agreements. This amendment, called the System Discipline Rule (" Discipline Rule" ), outlines the procedures Norfolk must follow when disciplining the Brotherhood members. The Discipline Rule does not allow Norfolk to discipline, dismiss, or place an unfavorable mark on an ...


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