334 F.3d 1253 (11th Cir. 2003), 02-13267, Hines v. Widnall

Docket Nº:02-13267
Citation:334 F.3d 1253
Party Name:Hines v. Widnall
Case Date:June 27, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 1253

334 F.3d 1253 (11th Cir. 2003)

Curtis HINES, Jr., Roosevelt Posey, Otto Mims, Otis Miller, William Owens, Plaintiffs-Appellants, Mary Helen Saulters, Plaintiff,


Sheila WIDNALL, James G. Roche, Secretary of the Air Force, Defendants-Appellees, F. Whitten Peters, Defendant.

No. 02-13267.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 27, 2003

Page 1254

Hillel Neuer, Mark H. Alcott, Daniel J. Toal, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, New York City, Ralph Alan Peterson, Beggs & Lane, Pensacola, FL, Norman J. Chachkin, Elise Catharine Boddie, NAACP Legal Defense & Educ. Find, Inc., New York City, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Pamela A. Moine, Asst. U.S. Atty., Pensacola, FL, E. Bryan Wilson, Tallahassee, FL, Christopher D. Thurner, U.S. Air Force Armament Ctr., Eglin AFB, FL, for Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

Before EDMONDSON, Chief Judge, and KRAVITCH and GIBSON [*], Circuit Judges.


Plaintiffs-appellants Curtis Hines, Jr., Roosevelt Posey, Otto Mims, Mary Helen Saulters, 1 Otis Miller and William Owens (collectively "Appellants") appeal the district court's denial of class certification. Appellants sought to be certified to represent all former, current, and future African-American civilian employees and applicants at Eglin Air Force Base ("Eglin") in Pensacola, Florida. Over 4,000 civilian employees are employed at Eglin's four installations. The United States Air Force ("USAF" or "Appellee") selects and evaluates civilian applicants and employees using a centralized personnel ratings system based on algorithmic formulas that assign weights to such factors as qualifications and past performance. Evaluations of employees, which play a major role in the promotion and compensation system equations, are completed by immediate supervisors. Appellants contend that the USAF engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against African-Americans through its hiring, evaluation, and promotional

Page 1255

practices at Eglin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.

In their complaint, Hines and Posey alleged that they were denied promotions and opportunities for advancement because of the USAF's alleged policy and practice of racial discrimination against African-Americans and sought to represent a class of African-American employees denied promotion and advancement at Eglin. Hines and Posey are employed as graphic artists--white collar non-professional positions--at Eglin's graphics shop. Mims, an African-American who worked as a civil service warehouse laborer in the Base Service Store, also sought to represent employees denied promotion because of their race. Miller and Owens, both African-American veterans, sought to represent class members who were allegedly denied employment at Eglin. Miller and Owens argued that they were qualified for the positions for which they applied and that the positions were ultimately filled by less qualified white applicants.

The district court denied Appellants' motion for class certification and this court denied interlocutory review in Hines v. Peters, 009-90012-1 (Nov. 8, 2000). 2 The district court subsequently entered summary judgment in favor of the USAF on the individual claims of plaintiffs Miller and Owens for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The district court dismissed the individual claims of Hines, Posey, and Mims with prejudice after the three entered into a settlement agreement with the USAF. 3 Appellants only appeal the district court's denial of class certification.

Two issues are before us in this appeal: (1) whether the district court abused its discretion in denying class certification under Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") and (2) whether the district court was bound by the EEOC's grant of class status to Appellants.

A district court's decision whether or not to certify a class under Rule 23 of the FRCP is reviewed for abuse of discretion. See Prado-Steiman ex rel. Prado v. Bush, 221 F.3d 1266, 1278 (11th Cir. 2000). As long as the district court's reasoning stays within the...

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