Legal Postings - Declaratory Judgment in the State of North Carolina

On January 2, 2015, USAPA filed with the District Court in the Western District of North Carolina its Brief in Reply to Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc 31), along with a Declaration from Rob Streble in further support of USAPA’s Remand Motion (Doc 31-1). The Motion for Remand relates to the North Carolina state court declaratory judgment action that USAPA commenced on September 16, 2014 against Roger Velez, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated former America West Pilots, and Leonidas. Defendants removed this action to federal court claiming the case belongs in federal court because USAPA’s claim seeking a ruling on the validity of the National Officers’ decision to defer dissolution and distribution of dues is constrained by federal law (i.e., the Railway Labor Act and/or the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act).

On November 17, 2014, USAPA made a motion with the federal court to remand this action back to state court. Defendants oppose returning this case to state court because they claim: (1) the case involves federal law; and (2) the federal court has diversity jurisdiction because the only members of USAPA are its officers and because the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. The Reply Brief and Declaration filed on January 2 responded to defendants’ arguments in opposition to returning the case back to state court and argued, among other things, that no federal laws are implicated as the complaint seeks a declaration solely regarding the USAPA Constitution and Bylaws, and that there is no factual or legal merit to the crux of defendants’ claim that the only members of USAPA are its National Officers.

The Motion for Remand has now been fully briefed, and the parties await a decision by the Court.

On January 2, 2015, USAPA also filed with the District Court in the Western District of North Carolina its Brief in Reply to Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiff’s Cross-Motion for Jurisdictional Discovery (Doc 32). The Cross-Motion for Jurisdictional Discovery relates to the motion by Defendants Velez and Leonidas to dismiss the Declaratory Judgment Action on the grounds that they lack sufficient contacts with North Carolina for the court to exercise jurisdiction over them. In partial response to defendants’ contentions about their lack of contacts, USAPA asked the Court to permit discovery on the jurisdictional question. Defendants opposed the motion, in part on the grounds that USAPA was in possession of all the facts as to defendants’ contacts with North Carolina. In Reply, USAPA rebutted defendants’ contention regarding the facts and further argued that its application for discovery was consistent with precedents where such discovery was permitted.

The Cross-Motion for Jurisdictional Discovery has now been fully briefed, and the parties await a decision by the Court.

It should be noted that the Federal District Court may not decide all of these motions, depending on which motion it decides first. If the Court chooses to decide the Remand Motion first and decides to remand the case back to state court, it may decline to decide the other pending motions and let the state court judge decide them.

All of the documents referred to above are available in the Legal Library. We will continue to keep you informed as to the progress and outcome of these motions.


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