Alfieri v. CSX Corp., No. 1-89-1749

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtCERDA
Citation559 N.E.2d 166,201 Ill.App.3d 559
Parties, 147 Ill.Dec. 166, 139 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2039, 123 Lab.Cas. P 57,075 Anthony ALFIERI, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CSX CORPORATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date18 July 1990
Docket NumberNo. 1-89-1749

Page 166

559 N.E.2d 166
201 Ill.App.3d 559, 147 Ill.Dec. 166,
139 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2039,
123 Lab.Cas. P 57,075
Anthony ALFIERI, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CSX CORPORATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 1-89-1749.
Appellate Court of Illinois,
First District, Third Division.
July 18, 1990.

Page 167

[201 Ill.App.3d 561] [147 Ill.Dec. 167] Crystal and Heytow, Chicago, for plaintiff-appellant.

Gorham, Metge, Bowman & Hourigan, Chicago, for defendants-appellees.

Page 168

[147 Ill.Dec. 168] Presiding Justice CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Pursuant to the Railway Labor Act ("RLA") (45 U.S.C. §§ 151-163 (1982)) and a collective bargaining agreement, plaintiff Anthony Alfieri arbitrated a grievance complaining of his dismissal from employment with a railroad. He appeals from the denial of his section 2-1401 petition (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 110, par. 2-1401) which sought to vacate the dismissal of his retaliatory discharge complaint. The issues on appeal are (1) whether the holding in Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef, Inc. (1988), 486 U.S. 399, 108 S.Ct. 1877, 100 L.Ed.2d 410, that the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 ("LMRA") (29 U.S.C. §§ 141-197 (1982)) did not preempt a tort claim if it did not require interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement applies to RLA preemption analysis; and (2) whether plaintiff's action was barred because an arbitrator reinstated him to his employment.

According to a written decision by a referee of the National Adjustment Review Board ("the Adjustment Board"), plaintiff's union claimed that there was insufficient evidence that plaintiff was dismissed because of insubordination, that plaintiff was dismissed because of harassment, that plaintiff's employer Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company violated a rule requiring charges to be sufficiently stated, and that plaintiff had been denied due process. The referee found that plaintiff had unjustifiably failed to perform his duties, that dismissal was an unreasonably severe punishment for insubordinate conduct, and that plaintiff should be reinstated without back pay. A transcript of the hearing on plaintiff's dismissal is not in the record.

Plaintiff alleged in his circuit court complaint, filed after the referee's decision, that he reported theft by other employees for which he was discharged in retaliation by defendants CSX Corporation, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad Company, and Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company. Plaintiff also alleged that the individual defendants whom he accused of theft, Ronald L. Hildebrand and Joseph P. McMahon, tortiously interfered with his existing, and future expectation of a continued, business relationship with the railroad defendants.

Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to sections [201 Ill.App.3d 562] 2-619(a)(1) and (9) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 110, pars. 2-619(a)(1), (9)) on the basis that plaintiff's claim for retaliatory discharge was in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Adjustment Board to which he had submitted his grievance. Defendants also argued that the RLA preempted the cause of action. Relying upon Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic Chef, Inc. (7th Cir.1987), 823 F.2d 1031, the trial court granted the motion to dismiss on the basis that the RLA preempted plaintiff's action, and plaintiff's complaint was dismissed with prejudice. An appeal from Lingle to the United States Supreme Court was pending at the time of the ruling.

About nine months later, plaintiff filed a petition for relief from the dismissal pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 110, par. 2-1401) in which he argued that after the dismissal, the United States Supreme Court reversed Lingle and held that a state law tort claim for retaliatory discharge was not preempted by the LMRA if resolution of plaintiff's claim did not turn on the meaning of terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Plaintiff argued that Ryherd v. General Cable Company (1988), 124 Ill.2d 418, 125 Ill.Dec. 273, 530 N.E.2d 431, interpreted Lingle as holding that an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement which provided a contractual remedy for discharge without just cause could nevertheless enforce his state law retaliatory discharge action. Plaintiff argued that there was no difference between the LMRA and the RLA that prevented the Lingle test from being applied to the RLA and that his claim satisfied the test because it was not dependent on the interpretation of any of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Supporting plaintiff's petition was an affidavit in which he swore that he was precluded from introducing at the hearing before

Page 169

[147 Ill.Dec. 169] the Adjustment Board any evidence "relating to the issues presented in the subject cause of action."

At the hearing on plaintiff's petition, the trial court stated that its original ruling was incorrect because of Lingle 's reversal. But the trial court denied plaintiff's petition on the new bases that plaintiff's discharge amounted to a suspension because he was reinstated to his job and the issue of back pay had already been litigated.

Plaintiff argues on appeal that his cause of action for retaliatory discharge was not precluded by the arbitration of his grievance. Although the trial court did not deny plaintiff's petition because of preemption, and although it found its previous ruling on preemption in error, defendants offer as an alternative basis for affirmance that [201 Ill.App.3d 563] plaintiff's complaint was preempted by the RLA. Defendants argue that they may offer any basis upon which to affirm the result regardless of the trial court's reasoning. Plaintiff counters that because defendants did not cross-appeal from the trial court's specific finding unfavorable to them that preemption did not apply, the issue of preemption is not properly before the reviewing court, and plaintiff cites Cleys v. Village of Palatine (1980), 89 Ill.App.3d 630, 636, 44 Ill.Dec. 795, 411 N.E.2d 1161 and Village of Arlington Heights v. National Bank of Austin (1977), 53 Ill.App.3d 917, 920, 12 Ill.Dec. 5, 369 N.E.2d 502.

The trial court did not make a specific finding from which appellee should have appealed, but only indicated that its prior ruling that plaintiff's claim was preempted was incorrect. The basis for the court's ruling denying the petition was that the plaintiff's discharge and claim for back wages had already been litigated. The general rule permitting a judgment to be sustained upon any ground warranted regardless of whether it was relied on by the trial court is applicable here. Material Service Corp. v. Department of Revenue (1983), 98 Ill.2d 382, 387, 75 Ill.Dec. 219, 457 N.E.2d 9.

We will first address the preemption issue. The RLA provides in part:

"The purposes of * * * [the RLA] are: (1) To avoid any interruption to commerce or to the operation of any carrier * * *; (4) to provide for the prompt and orderly settlement of all disputes concerning rates of pay, rules, or working conditions; (5) to provide for the prompt and orderly settlement of all disputes growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of agreements covering rates of pay, rules, or working conditions." (45 U.S.C. § 151a (1982).)

"(i) The disputes between an employee or group of employees and a carrier or carriers growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of agreements concerning rates of pay, rules, or working conditions, * * * shall be handled in the usual manner * * * but, failing to reach an adjustment in this manner, the disputes may be referred by petition of the parties or by either party to the appropriate division of the Adjustment Board * * * " (45 U.S.C. § 153 First (i) (1982).) (Emphasis added.)

Section 301(a) of the LMRA provides that:

"Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court [201 Ill.App.3d 564] of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties." 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) (1982).

Under the RLA, "minor disputes" is the description given to "controversies over the meaning of an existing collective bargaining agreement in a particular fact situation, generally involving only one employee," while "major disputes" are those which result when there is "disagreement in the bargaining process for a new contract." (Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Chicago River & Indiana Railroad Co. (1956), 353 U.S. 30, 33, 77 S.Ct. 635, 637, 1 L.Ed.2d 622, 625.) Major and minor do not necessarily refer to significant and insignificant issues. (International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. Southwest

Page 170

[147 Ill.Dec. 170] Airlines Co. (5th Cir.1989), 875 F.2d 1129, 1133.) Major disputes that are not settled "in conference" are first mediated before the National Mediation Board and then may be arbitrated. (Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. v. Burley (1945), 325 U.S. 711, 725, 65 S.Ct. 1282, 1290, 89 L.Ed. 1886, 1895; 45 U.S.C. § 155 First (1982).) Minor disputes are...

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8 practice notes
  • Sabich v. National RR Passenger Corp., No. 90 C 3344.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • May 20, 1991
    ...discharge. Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 108 S.Ct. 1877, 1882, 100 L.Ed.2d 410 (1988); Alfieri v. CSX Corp., 201 Ill.App.3d 559, 569, 147 Ill.Dec. 166, 173, 559 N.E.2d 166, 173 (1990). The Supreme Court, in Lingle, recognized that neither of these issues "requires ......
  • Taylor v. Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co., No. 1-93-4276
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 28, 1995
    ...for retaliatory discharge. Ryherd, 124 Ill.2d at 433, 125 Ill.Dec. at 280, 530 N.E.2d at 438; see also Alfieri v. CSX Corp. (1990), 201 Ill.App.3d 559, 569-70, 147 Ill.Dec. 166, 173, 559 N.E.2d 166, Unlike retaliatory discharge, the torts asserted in this case, malicious prosecution, wrongf......
  • HCA Health Services of the Midwest, Inc. v. Rosner, No. 1-90-0642
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 21, 1990
    ...2-619(a)(9)) as "other affirmative matter" barring the legal effect of or defeating the claim. (See e.g., Alfieri v. CSX Corp. (1990), 201 Ill.App.3d 559, 147 Ill.Dec. 166, 559 N.E.2d 166 (question of whether plaintiff's state law claims were preempted by the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. §§......
  • Stephan v. Selvic Marine Towing Co., No. 1-89-1093
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 18, 1990
    ...(Wilson, 471 U.S. at 266, 105 S.Ct. at 1942, 85 L.Ed.2d at 260.) When Congress has not established a time limitation for a federal[201 Ill.App.3d 559] cause of action, the settled practice has been to adopt a local time limitation if it is not inconsistent with federal law or policy. (Wilso......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Sabich v. National RR Passenger Corp., No. 90 C 3344.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • May 20, 1991
    ...discharge. Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 108 S.Ct. 1877, 1882, 100 L.Ed.2d 410 (1988); Alfieri v. CSX Corp., 201 Ill.App.3d 559, 569, 147 Ill.Dec. 166, 173, 559 N.E.2d 166, 173 (1990). The Supreme Court, in Lingle, recognized that neither of these issues "requires ......
  • Taylor v. Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co., No. 1-93-4276
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 28, 1995
    ...for retaliatory discharge. Ryherd, 124 Ill.2d at 433, 125 Ill.Dec. at 280, 530 N.E.2d at 438; see also Alfieri v. CSX Corp. (1990), 201 Ill.App.3d 559, 569-70, 147 Ill.Dec. 166, 173, 559 N.E.2d 166, Unlike retaliatory discharge, the torts asserted in this case, malicious prosecution, wrongf......
  • HCA Health Services of the Midwest, Inc. v. Rosner, No. 1-90-0642
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 21, 1990
    ...2-619(a)(9)) as "other affirmative matter" barring the legal effect of or defeating the claim. (See e.g., Alfieri v. CSX Corp. (1990), 201 Ill.App.3d 559, 147 Ill.Dec. 166, 559 N.E.2d 166 (question of whether plaintiff's state law claims were preempted by the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. §§......
  • Stephan v. Selvic Marine Towing Co., No. 1-89-1093
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 18, 1990
    ...(Wilson, 471 U.S. at 266, 105 S.Ct. at 1942, 85 L.Ed.2d at 260.) When Congress has not established a time limitation for a federal[201 Ill.App.3d 559] cause of action, the settled practice has been to adopt a local time limitation if it is not inconsistent with federal law or policy. (Wilso......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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