Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Abdu-Brisson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

November 6, 2000, Argued ; February 12, 2001, Decided

Docket No. 99-9359

Opinion

 [*461]  McLAUGHLIN, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs are several hundred pilots who were employed by the now-defunct Pan American World Airways, Inc. ("Pan Am"). They were hired by Delta Air Lines, Inc. ("Delta") pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement between the two airlines. The pilots filed an age discrimination action in New York State Supreme Court challenging three specific terms of their employment with Delta. Delta removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District [**2]  of New York (Baer, J.), and eventually filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court granted Delta's motion, finding that Plaintiffs had failed to establish a prima facie case of age discrimination, and dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint. Plaintiffs now appeal.

We hold that, while the district court erroneously concluded that Plaintiffs had not met their prima facie burden, summary judgment for Delta was nevertheless appropriate because Plaintiffs adduced no evidence that Delta's legitimate non-discriminatory explanations for each of the challenged employment terms were false. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the district court.

BACKGROUND

A. Facts

This age discrimination action against Delta has an unlikely origin, rising, as it does, from the ashes of the bankruptcy of Pan Am. In January 1991, Pan Am finally succumbed to two years of crushing financial pressures caused by the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the dismal economic conditions that followed. Seeking protection from its creditors, Pan Am filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

In its attempt to hammer out a reorganization plan, Pan [**3]  Am contemplated the sale of some or all of its assets. By the early spring of 1991, Pan Am was actively shopping its assets to its competitors. Pan Am representatives met with several senior officers of Delta to pitch Pan Am's assets. Included in Pan Am's written presentation was a chart demonstrating that Pan Am expected half of its pilot force to retire within five years, (compared to only about 12% at Delta). Presumably, this was viewed as a selling point because it anticipated a reduced cost structure down the road for whoever purchased Pan Am's assets. Shortly after that meeting, Delta began a due diligence campaign to evaluate the Pan Am assets.

The due diligence operation was headed up by Delta's Vice President of Flight Operations, Harry Alger. Alger quickly concluded that Pan Am's pilot retirement projections were too rosy, due, at least in part, to the "two-step bid down" system that Pan Am employed. A commercial airline cockpit crew includes a captain, a first officer (also known as a co-pilot), and, usually, a flight engineer (also known as a second officer). The Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") requires that captains and first officers retire from those positions [**4]  upon reaching the age of 60. A "two-step bid down" system allows captains who have reached the mandatory retirement age to "bid down" and continue to fly as flight engineers, a cockpit position that has no FAA-mandated retirement age. In 1991, Delta, by comparison, did not permit captains and first officers over the age of 60 to bid down for flight engineer positions, although it did permit them to hold ground positions with the airline. It was true that Pan Am employed many pilots approaching the age of 60, but Alger  [*462]  believed that few of them would, in fact, retire, surmising most would simply bid down for flight engineer positions and stay on the payroll.

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

239 F.3d 456 *; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 2041 **; 85 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 161; 79 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P40,397; 48 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 970

MARK ABDU-BRISSON, RONALD H. BUCHNER, GORDON BURGESS, ROBERT BURKE, THOMAS D. CALLAHAN, THOMAS F. CAREY, DALE E. CARMAN, LOUIS CARRARA, T. BARRY CASEY, LAMAR CASON, ROBERT T. CASSIDY, ROBERT CHANGERY, LARRY E. CHAPPEL, RICHARD CHARBONNEAU, STANLEY CHECKOWAY, DOUGLAS S. CHRISTENSEN, LEE J. CHURCH, JAMES CIRILLI, ROBERT CLACK, WALTER M. CLARK, PHILIP CLAUDY, HAROLD T. CLEAVER, CHARLES CLEMENTS, RICHARD T. CLOUGH, LAWRENCE D. COBB, WESLEY COLLINS, RONALD E. COMBEE, EUGENE M. COMFORT, HARRY G. COMPTON, JOHN C. COOK, CLIFFORD COOL, DAVID L. COOPER, DONALD C. CORY, MARCUS COVINGTON, EUGENE COX, LYNN COX, LYNN O. COX, HOWARD CROWELL, J. N. CRUMP, CHARLES CRUMPTON, JOSEPH C. CUSHING, EDWARD CYWINSKI, THOMAS G. DAHONEY, JOSEPH DALTON, CHARLES R. DAVIS, GERALD E. DAVIS, WADE L. DAVIS, THOMAS A. DEAN, ERNEST E. DELL, JR., THOMAS J. DELNICKAS, HENRY P. DENONCOUR, ROBERT DEVRIES, CLARENCE J. DIETER, CHARLES DIKE, JR., GERALD DION, JACK DITZEL, STEPHEN A. DODGE, WILLIAM W. DONNELLY, WILFREDO H. DORNA, WILLIAM DORNA, CHARLES B. DOUGLAS, ROBERT H. DROZD, VINCENT L. DUFFY, RALPH DUNN, RICHARD C. DUPUIS, ROBERT DURANT, PATRICK W. DWYER, ROBERT R. DZIMIDAS, ROBERT EBBLER, JACK E. ELDRED, KENNETH ELIAS, WILLIAM C. ELLIS, DANNY A. ENDRESEN, LEWIS W. ENGLISH, R. ROBERT ENGLISH, SIGURD ERIKSEN, JOHN M. ESPOSITO, DOUGLAS S. EYRE, DOUGLAS L. EZELL, JOHN R. FAHY, JEFFREY FAIRBROTHER, ANDRAL P. FARIS, ROBERT FERREL, LEWIS FIELACK, JERRY D. FIFER, JAMES FLAUGH, EUGENE FORET, RICHARD FORTE, DUANE FOSTER, FRANCIS J. FOSTER, DAVID FOUNTAIN, GEORGE V. FOX, ROLAND M. FRAGA, ROBERT A. FRASER, BRUCE L. FRYE, JOHN FUCIK, PAUL J. FULLER, EDWARD R. FULLERTON, JOHN GALLAGHER, RODGER P. GALLI, FREDERICK C. GARDNER, CHARLES L. GARNER, EDWIN J. GEIGER, JAMES T. GETTYS, FRANK H. GIBSON, JOHN GROUT, ROBERT P. GUNST, WILLIAM HALVOSA, III, D. B. HAMAN, LLOYD HAMILTON, ROSS M. HAMILTON, ROBERTO HANCHETT, MICHAEL D. HANLEY, ALVIN C. HANSON, ROBERT HARLAN, GARY HARMON, GARY L. HARRIS, ROBERT S. HARRIS, DAN H. HARRISON, NILE L. HARTER, JOSEPH HASELBY, WILLIAM HERNDON, DONALD C. HERTZFELDT, LARRY HESS, LON HICKS, CARL E. HINDLE, RICHARD HOHLOWSKI, FREDERICK W. HOLTGRAVE, DANIEL E. HOOD, WILLIAM N. HOOVER, MICHAEL R. HOPKINS, DARRYL G. HUBBARD, JOHN E. HUBBARD, STANLEY C. HUIE, ARNOLD HUSEMAN, O. H. HUTCHINS, RAYFORD HYMES, JOHN IISAGER, ANDREW C. ISOLA, A. ALLEN JACKSON, DAVID H. JENKINS, WILLIAM K. JILLSON, JAMES C. JOHNSON, PAUL F. JOHNSON, ROBERT JOHNSON, RONALD W. JOHNSON, TERRILL C. JOHNSON, J. H. JONES, M. PERRY JONES, TERRELL JONES, DEAN JUNG, HERMAN T. KAMERMAN, H. L. KARASOFF, WILLIAM G. KARNS, GARY R. KASPER, PATRICK T. KAVANAGH, RALPH B. ABRAMES, DELBERT R. ACKLEY, GEORGE ADALIAN, JOHN R. ADKINS, STEVEN A. AIGNER, JAMES AINSWORTH, DAVID R. ALBERT, WILLIAM ALLEN, CHARLES AMACKER, JOSEPH ANDERSON, JOSEPH ANDING, WILBERT Z. ANTILL, ERIC ARCHER, STUART H. ARCHER, JOSEPH A. ARMSTRONG, LEONARD R. ATLAS, GEORGE J. AVERY, CHESTER BAILEY, LARRY BAKER, JOHN M. BANDY, RICHARD BARKER, MOHAMMAD BASHIR, PETER P. BENDZLOWICZ, JOSEPH J. BENNETT, PETER BENNETT, WILLIAM O. BENNETT, DAVID BENSON, THOMAS R. BENTLEY, MICHAEL BERRY, JAMES BETHEL, ROBERT BEZIAT, GORDON M. BIGGAR, STEPHEN P. BLANK, DAVID BLOSS, JAMES BLOYDER, CHARLES J. BONINI, MARC L. BORNN, WALTER BOSSELMAN, STEVE D. BOWDEN, NED C. BOWERS, JAMES A. BOWLES, GARY W. BRANDT, STEPHEN W. BRANDT, CURTIS H. BRIGGS, DONALD BRODHEUR, STEPHEN A. BRODHECKER, ALWYN BROWN, ROBERT BROWN, JAMES BROWNE, ROBERT P. GICK, DONALD R. GIDDENS, JOSEPH A. GIDDINGS, BERNARD D. HGIERE, NORMAN GIROUARD, CHARLES F. GLADISH, THOMAS E. GOMPF, JACK D. GORDON, CORAD CONRAD GOSHEFF, ALTON G. GRAHAM, RITCHIE L. GRIFFITH, KENNETH R. GROSS, JOHN GROUT, ROBERT P. GUNST, DAVID KAWAMOTO, KEVIN P. KEHOE, RICHARD KELLY, GREG KERHULIS, H. W. KING, CHRISTOPHER KIPFER, DAVID R. KIRSCHNER, ROGER L. KLEIN, WILLIAM KLINE, RICHARD KLINICKI, STEPHEN M. KORCHECK, JOHN KUHS, WILLIAM KUNZ, ENRIQUE J. LANZ, LELAND T. LARSON, RICHARD LAUMEYER, WARNER F. LEE, ALBERT LEET, FRANK M. LENZ, IRA LESHIN, JOHN W. LEWIS, EDWARD R. LINDGREN, B. L. LINDSAY, WILLIAM H. LINKROUM, III, GORDON M. LITTLEFIELD, DAVID LOOMIS, FREDERICK LOSEN, JAMES V. LOVEN, DANIEL W. LOVETT, EDWARD J. LYNCH, M. LYON, RICHARD MACK, MICHAEL MACQUARRIE, DENNIS MADDUX, EDWARD A. MAIELLARO, ROBERT MANSKE, SIDNEY S. MARGREY, ANTHONY MARMON, FRANK MARTIN, RODERICK MARTINDALE, JOHN H. MASCALI, ROBERT J. MASSEY, ROBERT PAUL MASSI, MICHAEL M. MATEI, BRIAN P. MATTHIESEN, RICHARD MAYER, DALE Q. MAYO, THOMAS MAYS, BENEDICT L. MCALEVEY, GUY L. MCCAFFERTY, PATRICK MCCALLUM, JIM M. MCCONNELL, ROBERT B. MCEACHRAN, JAMES MCFARLENE, WILLIAM MCINROE, EDWARD A. MCKAY, KENNETH R. MCKEE, HUDNALLE MCLEAN, MICHAEL T. MCQUILLEN, CHRISTPHER L. MEGA, R. MERRILL, LAWRENCE E. MEYER, JAMES W. MICHEL, GORDON MILLER, GREGORY MILLER, JOSEPH P. MILLER, RICHARD L. MITTS, EINAR J. MORGENSEN, WILLIAM J. MOONEY, JAMES MOORE, MARK MOORE, ROBERT L. MOREY, PETER J. MORIARTY, EDWIN MORSE, GORDON S. MOYER, JAY MUFFETT, CHARLES F. MULIN, RICHARD MULLER, JOHN NEILL, JACK A. NELSON, JEFFREY S. NELSON, LARRY NELSON, LEONARD M. NELSON, VAN NELSON, JACKSON I. NEWBERRY, VERNON J. NORDMAN, YAN NOVAK, JOHN M. NUNEZ, JAMES R. NUSS, ROBERT OBER, STUART A. O'BRIEN, CHARLES W. O'CONNOR, MICHAEL O'DONNELL, KENNETH OLSON, LAURENCE H. OMURA, CLYDE ORR, JOHN F. O'RYAN, ROBERT L. OSBURN, LANE OVERSTREET, ROBERT B. OWENS, DENNIS A. PANZER, HENRY PAPA, THEODORE PATEASRE, JOHN C. PATTEN, BRUCE PATZMANN, RICHARD V. PAUL, FREDERICK PEARCE, PAUL PEARCE, ROBERT A. PENN, RICHARD A. PERKINS, T. C. PESTOLIS, STEPHEN T. PETERSEN, DAVID H. PETERSON, DAVID H. PETERSON, ROBERT PETERSON, KENNETH M. PFRANG, JAMES LARRY PHILLIPS, WILLIAM PICKEN, P. A. PIERCE, RICHARD PIPKIN, VINCENT PISCHL, CURTIS R. PLATTE, RICHARD P. PLATTS, DWIGHT PLYLER, JIMMIE R. POLLOCK, JOHN T. POOL, JOHN C. POPKESS, RANDAL L. PORTER, FREDERICK R. POUY, JOHN R. RAMEY, NORMAN W. REAGAN, JOHN H. REEVES, MICHAEL REICHFELD, ARNOLD REINER, FORREST RHODES, HAROLD W. RHODES, HENRY H. RHYNE, WILLIAM L. RICE, JAMES RICHARDS, HENRY RICHARDSON, JOHN B. RIEDERICH, ROBERT RIGNEY, RANDOLPH RIME, JAMES DAVID ROACH, JAMES N. ROBERTSON, RICHARD P. ROBINETTE, JACK ROCCHIO, ROBERT ROGNLIEN, WILLIAM C. ROSE, EDMOND ROUSSEAU, JOHN RUDL, KENNETH B. RUHM, TERRY RUSH, PHILIP M. RUTH, ROBERT F. SABBATINO, SALVATORE SALLIBELLO, KIT SANDERS, ANTHONY R. SAPORITO, JAMES P. SASSER, FRANK SAVINO, P. SAYERS, FRANCIS E. SCHLATER, JERRY SCHNELL, DONALD J. SCHOLTZ, PAUL W. SCHOLZ, HARRY SCHONING, ALLEN SCHWAB, JAMES G. SCHWALBERT, CARL D. SCRIVENER, LAURENCE E. SENN, RALPH M. SHAPE, JIMMY R. SHAW, MICHAEL SHEA, GEORGE SHEASLEY, T.B. SHEEHAN, JAY F. SHINN, JIMMY H. SHUMAN, DAVID M. SIMPLER, D. B. SIOTKAS, JOHN SKINNER, JOHN E. SKOMARS, KENNETH SLOBODY, ROBERT R. SMEDLEY, JAMES SMILEY, B. STAN SMITH, CALVIN SMITH, DON P. SMITH, WAYNE A. SOLIDAY, RICHARD SOMOYA, JAMES F. SONNHALTER, EDWARD W. SPEIRS, CHARLES C. SPENCER, LEON SPINNEY, TERRY J. SPRING, ROBERT G. STALVEY, KENNETH J. STEFFAN, LEONARD A. STILLER, THOMAS J. STONE, WHITNEY STRAIN, JAMES STUART, DONALD R. STUBBS, ROBERT STURGEON, JIMMY L. TALKINGTON, CHARLES TARPLEY, JAMES R. TAYLOR, H. J. TEDESCO, PAUL T. THATCHER, JACK THOMAS, JOHN M. THOMAS, BRENDA A. THOMPSON, GEORGE F. THOMPSON, THOMAS H. TINGLE, EMMETT R. TITSHAW, HENRY TOOKE, WILLIAM W. TRAVIS, ANTHONY TRIPODI, JERRY TROTT, JAMES VANDEMARK, S. B. VANGORDER, THOMAS VANNOTE, WAYNE A. VEENEMAN, RAFEL E. VELEZ, JAMES A. VERSCHAGE, DAVID M. VIKEN, JAMES S. VITALE, LLOYD S. VOOGT, ROBERT VOSS, BRUCE A. WADIAK, JAMES WAEBER, NEAL WALDRON, JOSEPH R. WALKER, DAVID E.B. WARD, DANIEL WATROUS, RONALD WEAVER, RANDOL B. WEBB, BRIAN WEISBLAT, LARRY J. WELCH, PETER J. WENK, DONALD W. WETMORE, CURT J. WETZEL, AUSTIN WHELIHAN, JACK L. WHICKER, JAMES H. WHITE, R. O. WHITE, WILLIAM O. WHITE, J. B. WILLIAMS, C. R. WILLIAMS, J.A. WILLIS, DONALD L. WILSON, JAMES R. WILTJER, JOHN STEPHEN WOELFEL, LEONARD R. WOHLETZ, MARK M. WOHLMUTH, CLIFTON WOODWORTH, DONALD E. WRIGHT, F. E. WRIGHT, RUFUS YARBROUGH, DAVID YARRI, JAMES YORK, GORDON YOUNG, OTIS B. YOUNG, WAYNE YOUNG, FORREST ZETTERBERG, RONALD J. ZIMMERMAN, JAMES ZURCHER, JAMES BOGGS, ALAN R. CHARLEVOIS, BRUCE W. DEAN, DENNIS DOUGHERTY, BERNARD D. GIERE, RALPH L. CANDELLA, and FORMER PAN AM PILOTS JOHN DOES 489 THROUGH 700, Plaintiffs-Appellants, - v. - DELTA AIR LINES, INC. and AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL, Defendants-Appellees.

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Certiorari Denied October 1, 2001, Reported at: 2001 U.S. LEXIS 7049. Certiorari Denied October 29, 2001, Reported at: 2001 U.S. LEXIS 9990.

Prior History: Plaintiffs appeal from an order and accompanying judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Baer, J.), granting defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissing the complaint.

Disposition: AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

pilots, seniority, integration, hired, prima facie case, age discrimination, methodology, positions, airline, district court, retirement, reasons, bid, employees, flight, non-discriminatory, medical benefit, post-retirement, acquisition, aircraft, routes, collective bargaining agreement, disparate treatment, similarly situated, summary judgment, ratio, service requirement, first officer, captains, cockpit

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Judgments, Summary Judgment, General Overview, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Motions for Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Business & Corporate Compliance, Discrimination, Age Discrimination, Federal & State Interrelationships, Labor & Employment Law, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Scope & Definitions, Circumstantial Evidence, Disparate Treatment, Employment Practices, Adverse Employment Actions, Discharges & Failures to Hire, Actionable Discrimination, Defenses, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Ultimate Burden of Persuasion