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Conley v. Gibson - 29 F.R.D. 519 (S.D. Tex. 1961)

Rule:

A complainant cannot succeed because someone else may be hurt. Nor does it make any difference that other persons who may be injured are persons of the same race or occupation. It is the fact, clearly established, of injury to the complainant—not to others—which justifies judicial intervention.

Facts:

Plaintiffs A. Watson, J. D. Conley, Stanley Moore, Sr. and George Carter filed a putative class action in federal district court against defendants Pat Gibson and several other union officials alleging violations under the Railway Labor Act because of their race and color. Plaintiffs declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which granted by the district court. A court appeals affirmed the judgment, but on certiorari, the Supreme Court of the United States held that it was error to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction and remanded the case to the district court for further consistent proceedings. On remand, defendants filed a motion to: (1) to dismiss the complaint under as Moore and Carter, who died while the litigation was pending; (2) to grant summary judgment on the ground that the uncontroverted facts as shown in depositions on file with the court, and Gibson's affidavit, showed that defendants did not violate any rights of plaintiffs as alleged in the complaint, and; (3) render judgment against Conley for the failure to appear, after notice, for the taking of his deposition.

Issue:

Should the court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment? 

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court granted the motion to dismiss as to Moore and Carter and granted the motion for summary judgment as to Watson and Conley. The court first ruled that, in accord with precedent from the Supreme Court of the United States, because Moore and Carter had died more than two years prior and substitution had never been sought, dismissal of Moore and Carter was required. As to Watson and Conley, the court noted that not only did Watson's deposition and Gibson's affidavit clearly illustrate that Watson and Conley were not injured in any way by defendants' actions, but Watson's and Conley's response to defendants' summary judgment motion admitted that no issue existed as between them and defendants, but rather, they claimed, an issue existed with respect to dismissal of them as representatives of the class. The court concluded that there was no injured plaintiff representing the class, and as such, the action had to be dismissed. In addition, dismissal as Conley was warranted based upon his failure to appear for his deposition.

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