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Jones v. Association of Flight Attendants-CWA

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 30, 2015

VERNON T. JONES, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS-CWA, Defendant-Appellee

Submitted November 12, 2014.[*]

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 11 C 4413 -- Michael T. Mason, Magistrate Judge.

Vernon T. Jones, Plaintiff, Pro se, Elk Grove Village, IL USA.

For Vernon T. Jones, Plaintiff: Ayman Mourad, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Chicago, IL USA.

For Association of Flight Attendants Cwa, Defendant: Robert A. Seltzer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Andrew Bernard Epstein, Cornfield & Feldman, Chicago, IL USA.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 572

Wood, Chief Judge.

More than seven months after settling a federal lawsuit against his former labor union, Vernon Jones filed in the district court a document that he called a " motion to establish court's jurisdiction." The motion's caption reflected the name and docket number of his suit against the union, and so the clerk's office sent it to the judge who had presided over that action (a magistrate judge, who had acted with the parties' consent). The judge entered a minute order ostensibly dismissing Jones's submission for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Jones appealed, urging us to reverse that jurisdictional finding. Before reaching that issue, however, we must consider whether the magistrate judge was authorized to enter a dispositive ruling on Jones's submission, and whether we have appellate jurisdiction to review that ruling.

The underlying case arose out of Jones's 15-year stint as a flight attendant for United Airlines. He lost that job in 2010 when he was fired for misconduct; the next year, he sued the Association of Flight Attendants, the union that had represented him during his employment with the airline. Because of racial animus and his complaints about discrimination, he charged, the union had backed the airline instead of fairly representing him in his bid to keep his job. See 42 U.S.C. § § 1981, 2000e-2(c), 2000e-3(a).

When a settlement appeared likely, the parties consented to have a magistrate judge preside over the lawsuit. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). By then Jones was represented by appointed counsel. As part of the settlement, the union agreed to challenge his discharge by pursuing on his behalf a grievance with the System Board of Adjustment, the body responsible under the collective bargaining agreement for resolving disputes or grievances between the union and airline. In turn, Jones agreed to dismiss his lawsuit with prejudice. The settlement does not provide for continuing jurisdiction in federal court. See generally Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 381-82, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994); Shapo v. Engle, 463 F.3d 641, 643 (7th Cir. 2006); Lynch, Inc. v. SamataMason Inc., 279 F.3d 487, 489 (7th Cir. 2002). In June 2013, counsel for both parties signed a stipulation of dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii).

Less than two weeks later, Jones filed the first of three pro se submissions, all of which the clerk's office directed to the magistrate judge. The first of these is a two-sentence request to discharge Jones's recruited lawyer and to return his suit against the union to the district judge for

Page 573

future proceedings. The magistrate judge disposed of this filing in a minute order explaining that the suit already had been ...


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