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FINLIN v. PENNSYLVANIA R.R. CO.

August 3, 1960

Thomas J. FINLIN, Charles H. Hogentogler and Darrell L. Middleton, Plaintiffs,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MADDEN

On May 18, 1951, plaintiffs Finlin, Hogentogler and Middleton filed an amended complaint in this Court, in Civil Action 457-51, joining one Arthur F. Naylor as parties plaintiff. Naylor had previously filed a complaint on May 4, 1951 against the defendant, Pennsylvania Railroad Company, for an accounting and damages arising out of an alleged breach of a collective bargaining agreement. The claim concerned his operation of defendant's locomotives over track of other railroad companies. The plaintiffs also sought to restrain defendant from effecting a settlement of such claim with the brotherhood.

Thereafter, upon application by the defendant to dismiss, this Court held; Naylor v. Pennsylvania R. Co. et al., D.C. 1952, 106 F.Supp. 84, 86:

 'This confirms our prior opinion, that the present suit, being one basically for the interpretation of an existing contract, which interpretation may affect the future relations of the parties, it should be heard by that expert body so established by Congress to deal with such problems, namely, the National Railway Adjustment Board.'

 Thereupon, the Court dismissed the action with leave to reopen if the National Railroad Adjustment Board did not dispose of the matter upon the merits. No appeal from that order was taken.

 The present plaintiffs filed claims before the National Railroad Adjustment Board asserting the identical claims that formed the basis for their suit in this Court. After hearing the National Railroad Adjustment Board denied the petitioners' claims.

 Thereafter, on May 15, 1957, plaintiffs filed a complaint herein and by amended complaint filed June 20, 1957 seek a trial de novo of the matters heard by the board, asking this Court to set aside the order of the board as illegal, arbitrary and capricious and not based upon any substantial evidence.

 Thereafter, the defendant, Pennsylvania Railroad Company, moved to dismiss upon the grounds that this Court lacked jurisdiction inasmuch as the exclusive authority over such disputes was in the board, and, secondly, if there is authority in the United States District Court to review the actions of the board, the board itself would be a necessary party.

 In the meantime, a number of other suits had been commenced in this Court wherein the jurisdiction of the National Railroad Adjustment Board and the exclusiveness of its jurisdiction was questioned. Barnett v. Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines, D.C.1955, 145 F.Supp. 731; Stranford v. Pennsylvania R. Co., D.C.1956, 155 F.Supp. 680; and Day v. Pennsylvania R. Co., D.C.1955, 155 F.Supp. 695.

 In the Barnett matter this Court filed an opinion September 19, 1956 (145 F.Supp. 731) denying to petitioner jurisdiction in this Court in a suit seeking reinstatement in his employment and back pay. This Court held that National Railroad Adjustment Board had primary and exclusive jurisdiction. This holding was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Goodrich, 3 Cir., 1957, 245 F.2d 579.

 On September 5, 1957, in separate opinions, this Court dismissed the complaints in Stranford v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 1957, 155 F.Supp. 680 and Day v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 1957, 155 F.Supp. 695. The Stranford decision was not appealed but Day v. Pennsylvania R. Co. was.

 In the Day v. Pennsylvania R. Co. matter this Court had before it at the time of its consideration the findings of the National Railroad Adjustment Board in the three hearing that are presently before the Court. This Court held that inasmuch as those findings involved the very same question as the involved in the Day matter they, therefore, could be used for consideration in the Day matter.

 Inasmuch as the Day matter was before the Court of Appeals, the parties hereto continued the motion to dismiss in this case pending decision by the Court of Appeals.

 On August 12, 1958, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Kalodner, 258 F.2d 62, reversed the action of this Court and held that inasmuch as DePriest, the decedent employee, had entered retirement he was not to be considered an employee under the terms of the Railway Labor Act, *fn1" and, further, that the District Court did have jurisdiction to entertain the suit for damages under the collective bargaining agreement.

 On June 29, 1959, the Supreme Court, in a six to three decision, reversed the Court of Appeals and upheld the dismissal of the complaint by this Court in an opinion by Mr. Justice Frankfurter, 360 U.S. 548, 79 S. Ct. 1322, 3 L. Ed. 2d 1422, with a dissent by Mr. Justice Black. After receipt of the mandate this matter was then argued to this Court and the following questions presented: Does this Court have jurisdiction to review actions of the National Railroad Adjustment Board and in effect grant a trial de novo and reach a decision on the facts different from the decision of that body? Secondly, assuming arguendo that the Court has jurisdiction to review ...


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