You're viewing Docket Item 825 from the case Pickering Plaintiffs, et al v. USX Corporation, et al. View the full docket and case details.

Download this document:




Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 1 of 17

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH, CENTRAL DIVISION

* * * * * * * * *

CONSOLIDATED CASES:

Civil No. 87-C-838J
Civil No. 88-C-763J
Civil No. 91-C-636J

MEMORANDUM OPINION
& ORDER

FILED

CLERK, U.S. DISTRICT COURT
September 19, 2013 (2:05pm)

DISTRICT OF UTAH

TONY PICKERING, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

USX CORPORATION,

Defendant.


LYNN A. BARNEY, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

USX CORPORATION,

Defendant.


RELDON C. KENNY, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

USX CORPORATION,

Defendant.

)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)

* * * * * * * * *

On September 6, 2013, the above-captioned action came before the court for a hearing on

a series of motions filed pro se by two named plaintiffs, Ronald J. Chilton and David L. Glazier.

Mr. Chilton and Mr. Glazier appeared on their own behalf; Richard D. Burbidge appeared on

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 2 of 17

behalf of the plaintiffs’ counsel of record. The court heard argument by the movants and

counsel, and having considered the same in light of the record in this case as well as other

proceedings of which this court was apprised, the court now rules as follows:

“Plaintiffs’ Motion for an Order Commanding Defendants to Pay and Plaintiffs’ Motion

for an Order Recognizing a Vitiated State Court Ruling” (CM/ECF No. 812), seeks an order

“commanding that the Defendants shall pay to Plaintiffs the 1987 accrued vacation benefit

monies as dictated in” this court’s 236-page Memorandum Opinion and Order entered in the

above-entitled action on May 5, 1995 (CM/ECF No. 782), and “recognizing the vitiation of the

1

state court’s September 22, 2005 decisions” concerning this court’s Pickering opinion and the

“applicable Basic Labor Agreement” that resulted in the denial of adjudication in Chilton v.

Young, Civil No. 030105887 (3d Dist. Ct.), a state civil action that had been commenced by the

movants and others against their attorneys of record in this action. The gist of movants’

2

argument appears to be this: Judge Brian’s September 22, 2005 summary judgment ruling

concluded that Messrs. Chilton, Glazier and others were not entitled to an award of accrued

vacation pay for 1988 because “any vacation that might have accrued in 1987, to those eligible

was not payable in 1988 because such vacation pay was forfeited when they were all effectively

1

This Memorandum Opinion and Order is also available at Pickering v. USX Corp., 1995
WL 584372 (D. Utah 1995). The court’s prior Memorandum Opinion and Order on the liability
phase of the proceeding is found at Pickering v. USX Corp., 809 F. Supp. 1501 (D. Utah 1992).

2

To “vitiate” is to “impair; to cause to have no force or effect . . . To make void or

voidable; to invalidate either completely or in part . . . .” Black’s Law Dictionary 1708 (9th ed.
2009); see also Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 1399 (11th ed. 2003) (to vitiate is “to
make faulty or defective,” to impair, or “to make ineffective”).

- 2 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 3 of 17

discharged on August 31, 1987, which was prior to January 1, 1988”; Judge Brian construed

3

their right to vacation pay to be forfeited under the applicable collective bargaining agreement “if

the employee ‘quits, retires, dies or is discharged prior to January 1 of the vacation year,’” and in

4

doing so, movants insist that he misconstrued the terms of that agreement and ignored the res

judicata effect of this court’s 1995 Memorandum Opinion and Order. The movants submit that

if the collective bargaining agreement is correctly construed and proper preclusive effect is

accorded this court’s 1995 Memorandum Opinion and Order, they are each legally entitled to

such 1988 vacation pay, and that their counsel of record in this case—those named as

“Defendants” in the caption of their motion, in contrast to USX—should be ordered by this court

to pay them.

BACKGROUND

The movants’ request finds its roots in a page or two of history.

In 1992, this court held the movants’ former employer, USX Corporation, liable for

violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§

1001 et seq., on three theories: (1) that USX’s failure to recall laid off steelworkers at the Geneva

Steel Works to active employment prior to July 31, 1986 was motivated by USX’s specific intent

to interfere with those plaintiffs’ attainment of pension benefit rights in violation of §510 of

ERISA; (2) that USX’s decision to “idle” the Geneva Works at the end of an August 1986-

3

(Memorandum Decision, dated September 22, 2005, in Ronald J. Chilton, et al., vs.
Allen K. Young, et al., Civil No. 030105887 (3d Dist. Ct.), at 11 (annexed as Exhibit “B” to
Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for an Order Commanding Defendants to Pay and
Plaintiffs’ Motion for an Order Recognizing a Vitiated State Court Ruling, filed July 16, 2012
(CM/ECF No. 813) (“Chilton-Glazier Mem.”)).)

4

(Id. (quoting 1987 Basic Labor Agreement at § 12-A-3).)

- 3 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 4 of 17

February 1987 “work stoppage” rather than operating, closing or selling the plant was similarly

motivated by USX’s unlawful intent to interfere with its employees’ attainment of pension

benefit rights in violation of §510 of ERISA; and (3) that USX amended its employee pension

plan by reducing significantly the rate of future accrual of pension benefits without the written

notice required by section 204(h) of ERISA. See Pickering v. USX Corp., 809 F. Supp. 1501,

1531-59, 1560-66 (D. Utah 1992). The court’s finding that USX violated ERISA raised the

question of the proper remedies to redress these violations for the benefit of 1,892 former USX

employees. Beginning with the claims of twenty-four “bellwether” plaintiffs whose individual

circumstances seemed typical of many other plaintiffs, trial of this second “remedies phase” of

the litigation commenced on October 14, 1993, and continued through nineteen days of trial.

The presentation of evidence continued for nineteen days, and the court then took the matter

under advisement.

As the movants recount, this court issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order on the

remedies phase on May 5, 1995, detailing the back pay, retirement benefit accruals and similar

relief to which nearly all of the bellwether plaintiffs were entitled. The 1995 Memorandum

Opinion and Order called upon counsel to assist in computing specific remedial amounts and

preparing the final judgment to be entered in favor of those plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ counsel also

filed a motion for an award of attorney’s fees and costs, which USX and related entities opposed.

In the midst of those matters, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations, and in July

of 1995, USX agreed to pay more than $47 million for the benefit of 1,674 remaining plaintiffs5

5

As the court noted in its May 1995 opinion, over two hundred retiree plaintiffs had

settled their claims against USX in May of 1994.

- 4 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 5 of 17

together with several million additional dollars in retirement benefit accruals. The negotiation of

that settlement and the acceptance of the USX proposal by the plaintiffs was handled by the

parties’ counsel entirely outside of this court’s processes. The court played no part in the USX

6

settlement itself. As the record reflects, on July 21, 1995, counsel presented to the court a joint

stipulation to dismiss this case as to all but two of the remaining plaintiffs (CM/ECF No. 794).

On July 25, 1995, the court held a status conference concerning the parties’ settlement and

stipulation for dismissal, and based upon the representations made by counsel in open court and

on the record that the matter was settled as to 1,675 plaintiffs, this court signed and entered the

order of dismissal (CM/ECF No. 796) that same day. 7

At no time were the terms of the parties’ settlement reviewed or evaluated by this court,

and at no time was this court called upon to oversee or supervise the administration or

distribution of that settlement. No final judgment was ever entered by this court memorializing

the relief granted in the May 1995 Memorandum Opinion and Order or reflecting the

computation of any amount of back pay or other relief awarded to any named plaintiff.

Chilton v. Young: the State Court Litigation

From the papers submitted by Messrs. Chilton and Glazier, it appears that some degree of

discord arose between some plaintiffs and their attorneys concerning the amount and distribution

6

The written materials submitted by the movants include a transcript of a June 28, 1995
meeting of plaintiffs’ counsel with an assembly of the plaintiffs at Mountain View High School
in Orem, Utah, at which the terms of the proposed settlement were discussed.

7

(See Minute Entry, dated July 25, 1995 (CM/ECF No. 797).) The two remaining
plaintiffs, Tom Chamberlain and Janet McDermott, settled with USX by mid-August, and
submitted similar stipulations for dismissal. Orders of dismissal (CM/ECF Nos. 806, 809) were
entered by August 21, 1995, bringing this case to an end.

- 5 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 6 of 17

of the USX settlement that subsequently led to the filing of a civil lawsuit against plaintiffs’

counsel in 2002, Ronald J. Chilton, et al., vs. Allen K. Young, et al., Civil No. 030105887 (3d

Dist. Ct.). Litigation in the state court action continued for several years, and the matter was

8

finally decided in the attorneys’ favor. The state court plaintiffs appealed, and in 2009 the Utah

Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment. See Chilton v. Young, 2009 UT App

265, 220 P.3d 171. The Utah Court of Appeals later denied a rehearing, and in March of 2010,

the Utah Supreme Court denied certiorari review. Chilton v. Young, 230 P.3d 127 (Utah, March

17, 2010) (Table).

Chilton v. Young: the Federal Civil Action

In July of 2010, Messrs. Chilton and Glazier filed a federal civil action against the same

attorneys and two state district judges, among others, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation,

malpractice, and other claims arising from the administration and disbursement of the USX

settlement and the subsequent state court lawsuit. After some considerable procedural

9

wrangling, an October 4, 2011 Report and Recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul

Warner concluded that the case should be dismissed for lack of either diversity or federal

question jurisdiction, among other reasons.
10

After receiving a series of objections and motions

by the plaintiffs, Judge Dee Benson entered an order adopting the Report and Recommendation

8

Apparently a prior lawsuit was filed in state court in 2001, but was dismissed without

prejudice because of the plaintiffs’ failure to effect timely service of process upon the defendants.

9

(Ronald J. Chilton & David L. Glaizer vs. Allen K. Young, et al., Civil No. 2:10-CV-699

DB (D. Utah, filed July 26, 2010).)

10

(Report and Recommendation, filed October 4, 2011 (CM/ECF No. 85).)

- 6 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 7 of 17

and dismissing the action.

11

Messrs. Chilton and Glazier did not appeal that dismissal.

12

The Chilton-Glazier Motion

In July of 2012, Messrs. Chilton and Glazier filed the instant motion (CM/ECF No. 812),

with an accompanying memorandum in support (CM/ECF No. 813). As exhibits they also

submitted copies of various documents, including state appellate briefs, deposition transcripts, a

transcript of a June 28, 1995 meeting and a report on the distribution of the equitable award

portion of the USX settlement fund. A series of procedural filings followed (requests to submit

for decision, objections, motions to strike, etc.), and the court then calendared the motion for

hearing on September 6th.

ANALYSIS

The USX Settlement

The most salient fact bearing upon the movant’s request for entry of orders in this case is

the fact that this case was settled by agreement of the parties in July of 1995. Whatever payment

Messrs. Chilton and Glazier—or any other of the 1,675 remaining plaintiffs—were entitled to

receive as part of that settlement was governed by the terms of the parties’ settlement agreement

as those terms were negotiated and concluded between plaintiffs’ counsel and counsel for USX.

The movants aver that plaintiffs’ counsel told the plaintiffs that the proposed USX settlement

“included everything that had been awarded in” this court’s May 5, 1995 Memorandum Opinion

11

(Order Adopting Report & Recommendation, filed October 28, 2011 (CM/ECF No.

90).)

12

They did procure an amended judgment in that case correcting the Clerk’s original

judgment which recited that the case had been decided by a jury. (See Amended Judgment, filed
December 13, 2011 (CM/ECF No. 100), in Ronald J. Chilton & David L. Glaizer vs. Allen K.
Young, et al., Civil No. 2:10-CV-699 DB (D. Utah.)

- 7 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 8 of 17

and Order, “and a little bit more.” Plaintiffs’ counsel had indicated that the USX settlement

13

fund would largely be distributed by analogy to this court’s rulings as to the twenty-three

bellwether plaintiffs, with an amount reserved for further equitable adjustments in specific cases.

In their state lawsuit, the movants alleged that the administration of the USX settlement departed

from this approach in several respects.

The 1987 Vacation Pay Issue

Of key importance here is the movants’ assertion in the state court action that many of the

plaintiffs qualified for vacation pay that accrued in 1987 and would have been payable in 1988

under the USX collective bargaining agreement, but that such accrued vacation pay was not taken

into account in calculating the USX settlement distribution. They insist that the state district

court erred in ruling that any vacation pay that accrued in 1987 was forfeited by the plaintiffs

pursuant to a provision of the collective bargaining agreement providing that an employee

“forfeits the right to receive vacation benefits . . . if he quits, retires, dies, or is discharged prior to

January 1 of the vacation year.” As explained above, Judge Brian concluded that “any vacation

14

that might have accrued in 1987, to those eligible was not payable in 1988 because such vacation

pay was forfeited when they were all effectively discharged on August 31, 1987, which was prior

to January 1, 1988.” They contend that by equating the “termination” of the plaintiffs’

15

13

(Chilton-Glazier Mem. at 4; see Transcript of Meeting, dated June 28, 1995, at 14:22-

15:8, 18:11-14 (Mr. Orlofsky).)

14

(1987 Basic Labor Agreement at § 12-A-3.)

15

(Memorandum Decision, dated September 22, 2005, in Ronald J. Chilton, et al., vs.

Allen K. Young, et al., Civil No. 030105887 (3d Dist. Ct.), at 11 (annexed as Exhibit “B” to the
Chilton-Glazier Mem.).)

- 8 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 9 of 17

employment by USX as of August 31, 1987 as found by this court with being “discharged”

within the meaning of the forfeiture provision,
16

Judge Brian misconstrued the terms of the

collective bargaining agreement and failed to give credence to this court’s May 5, 1995

Memorandum Opinion and Order.
17

The movants argue that “discharged” specifically refers to

being terminated from employment for good cause, in contrast to the sale by USX of the Geneva

Works after August 31, 1987, which effectively terminated the plaintiffs’ employment by USX

without regard to good cause.

18

The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Brian’s ruling on this issue, rejecting the

movants’ argument:

16

Judge Brian explained that “[a]s found in Pickering, none of the plaintiff steelworkers

were employed by USX as of January 1, 1988. Therefore, this Court concludes that none of them
were entitled to vacation pay accrued in 1987, that was payable in 1988.” (Id.)

17

The state court’s 2005 memorandum decision does reflect some misapprehension of
this case and this court’s 1995 Memorandum Opinion and Order. For example, it recites that
“Judge Jenkins did not consider any of the bellwether claims that were . . . ‘layoff’ (recall)
plaintiffs because they had been dismissed with prejudice”; in fact, the “layoff” (or “recall”)
plaintiffs were the first category of bellwether plaintiffs addressed in the 1995 Memorandum
Opinion and Order. It also discusses the question “whether, in class action litigation, an attorney
has a duty to include attorney’s fees in settlement negotiations and a proposed settlement,”
apparently not realizing that this case was not a class action.

The state court noted that this court ruled that equitable relief under ERISA “would

include ‘an award of back pay (wages, sick leave, vacation pay, incentive pay and other employee
compensation) equal to the compensation [they] would have received during the periods of recall
to employment at Geneva’”—which included the seven-month “idling” period in 1987—but
Judge Brian made no effort to reconcile that ruling with its own conclusion that 1987 vacation
pay was forfeited under the terms of the 1987 Basic Labor Agreement.

18

As this court explained, the plaintiffs’ ERISA remedies “‘must be measured within the

terms of the 1987 BLA, [and] Pension Agreement, as if [plaintiffs] had remained active
employees who were terminated when Geneva was sold to BM & T,’ (id.) that is, on August 31,
1987.” (Memorandum Opinion and Order, filed May 5, 1995 (CM/ECF No. 782), at 78, 1995
WL 584372, at *41 (quoting Pickering, 809 F. Supp. at 552).)

- 9 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 10 of 17

As to the 2005 order, the applicable contract provided that an employee forfeited
the right to receive vacation benefits for a given calendar year if the employee was
discharged prior to January 1 of that year. It is undisputed that Chilton and
Glazier were terminated on August 31, 1987. Thus, the 2005 order correctly
concluded that Chilton and Glazier were ineligible to receive vacation pay during
1988.

Chilton v. Young, 2009 UT App. 265, ¶ 5, 220 P.3d at 172-73.

This Court’s Rulings and Vacation Pay

In its 1995 Memorandum Opinion and Order, this court did find that the plaintiffs’

employment by USX was terminated as of August 31, 1987, when the Geneva plant was sold.

This court also delineated the equitable remedies to which many of the bellwether plaintiffs were

entitled under ERISA, among them “an award of back pay (wages, sick leave, vacation pay,

incentive pay or other employee compensation) equal to the compensation [they] would have

received during the periods of recall to employment at Geneva,” less “any amount of income

earned by [them] through other employment during those same periods.” Of particular concern

19

was back pay that accrued during the seven-month period from February through August of 1987

during which USX “idled” the Geneva plant in violation of ERISA.

This court was not squarely presented with the question whether plaintiffs’ vacation pay

that accrued during 1987 would be forfeited pursuant to § 12-A-3 of the 1987 Basic Labor

Agreement—as Judge Brian subsequently concluded—and thus the 1995 Memorandum Opinion

and Order does not explicitly address that question.
20

Messrs. Chilton and Glazier implore this

19

(Id. at 108 ¶ 21, 1995 WL 584372, at 56 ¶ 21.)

20

This court did expressly adopt the analysis of plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Paul Randle,

concerning the calculation of back pay awards, noting that Dr. Randle treated vacation pay as
“mitigating income” to be offset against the plaintiffs’ lost wages amount, at least for 1986-87.

(continued...)

- 10 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 11 of 17

court to address it now and rule in their favor, notwithstanding the final judgment of the state

courts to the contrary.

But the threshold question is whether this court has the power to do so.

The State Chilton v. Young Judgment and the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

Generally, a collective bargaining agreement “is a federal contract and is therefore

governed and enforceable by federal law, in the federal courts,” International Ass’n of

Machinists v. Central Airlines, Inc., 372 U.S. 682, 692 (1963), and construction of the language

of the 1987 Basic Labor Agreement as a collective bargaining agreement may thus raise a federal

question over which this court has subject matter jurisdiction.
21

Moreover, under § 301 of the

Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185,
22

“‘if the resolution of a state-law claim

20

(...continued)

(Id. at 80, 82, 1995 WL 584372, at *42, *43.) Presumably, had the litigation proceeded to entry
of judgment, the plaintiffs’ back pay awards would have been computed in the fashion delineated
by Dr. Randle.

21

As one well-known treatise explains:

Under the federal labor statutes, as interpreted by the United States

Supreme Court, the rights of the parties to a collective bargaining agreement are
governed by federal law. This is true whether the action is brought in federal or
state court. While resort to state law, if compatible with the purpose of the Labor
Management Relations Act, is permissible to find the rule that will best effectuate
federal policy, any state law applied in this manner will be absorbed as federal
law.

20 Richard A. Lord, Williston on Contracts § 55:54, at 230-33 (4th ed. 2001) (emphasis added &
footnotes omitted).

22

Section 301(a) reads:

Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization
representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this Act,

(continued...)

- 11 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 12 of 17

depends upon the meaning of a collective-bargaining agreement’ the state-law claim is

preempted.” Mock v. T.G. & Y. Stores Co., 971 F.2d 522, 529 (10th Cir. 1992) (quoting Lingle v.

Norge Division of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 405-06 (1988)); see also Allis-Chalmers

Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 208-10 (1985); Johnson v. Beatrice Foods Co., 921 F.2d 1015,

1018-20 (10th Cir. 1990); Marshall v. TRW, Inc., Reda Pump Division, 900 F.2d 1517, 1520-22

(10th Cir. 1990); United Assoc. of Journeymen and Apprentices, Local Number 57 v. Bechtel

Power Corp., 834 F.2d 884, 887-89 (10th Cir. 1987) cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1055 (1988).
23

To

the extent that it depends upon the construction of the 1987 Basic Labor Agreement, the

movants’ 1987 vacation pay claim may well have raised a federal question that could have been

addressed by the federal district court in the first place.

Be that as it may, the matter proceeded through the state courts to its conclusion before

the Utah Court of Appeals, with the Utah Supreme Court denying review—at which point the

(...continued)
22
or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court 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.

Section 301 “not only provides federal-court jurisdiction over controversies involving collective-
bargaining agreements, but also ‘authorizes federal courts to fashion a body of federal law for the
enforcement of these collective bargaining agreements.’” Lingle v. Norge Division of Magic
Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 403 (1988) (quoting Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448,
451 (1957)).

23

As Williston explains, “the Supreme Court has held that state law does not exist as an

independent source of private rights to enforce collective bargaining agreements, and federal law
preempts state law claims that are based directly on rights created by the agreement, as well as
claims substantially dependent on an analysis of the agreement.” 20 Williston on Contracts §
55:58, at 255 (footnotes omitted).

- 12 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 13 of 17

state court judgment became final.24

The movants’ current plea for this court’s assistance with the vacation pay issue simply

comes too late.



As our court of appeals reminds us, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine “bars federal courts

from reviewing the judgments and decisions of state courts once they have become final.” D.A.

Osguthorpe Family Partnership v. ASC Utah, Inc., 705 F.3d 1223, 1230 n.7 (10th Cir. 2013).25

“The Rooker-Feldman doctrine establishes, as a matter of subject-matter jurisdiction, that only

the United States Supreme Court has appellate authority to review a state-court decision.”

Merrill Lynch Bus. Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Nudell, 363 F.3d 1072, 1074–75 (10th Cir. 2004) (footnote

omitted). “Thus, in applying the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, we focus on whether the lower

federal court, if it adjudicated plaintiff’s claims, would effectively act as an appellate court

reviewing the state court disposition.” Id. at 1075.

In Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280 (2005), “the Supreme

Court made clear that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine has a narrow scope,” Chapman v. Oklahoma,

472 F.3d 747, 749 (10th Cir. 2006), and “applies only to suits filed after state proceedings are

final.” Guttman v. Khalsa, 446 F.3d 1027, 1032 (10th Cir. 2006).
26

Thus, the Rooker-Feldman

24

Indeed, finality accords the state court judgment in Chilton v. Young preclusive res

judicata effect on the vacation pay issue. See Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980) (“Under
res judicata, a final judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies from
relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in that action.”).

25

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine takes its name from the two Supreme Court cases in

which its rule has been applied: Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923), and District
of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983).

26

For purposes of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, state proceedings are final “(1) ‘when the
(continued...)

- 13 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 14 of 17

doctrine is triggered only “after the state proceedings have ended.” 544 U.S. at 291; D.A.

Osguthorpe Family Partnership, 705 F.3d at 1232.

But the present motion—requesting that this court enter an order that “the lower state

court ruling is recognized as vitiated due to lack of jurisdiction to make a determination over

matters pertaining to the Pickering v. USX case” —falls neatly within the scope of the Rooker-

27

Feldman doctrine because it was brought by “state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by

state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting

district court review and rejection of those judgments.” Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 284. As a

result, this court simply lacks the jurisdiction to do as the movants now ask.

CONCLUSION

Finally, we cannot lose sight of what it is that the movants actually sought to construe and

enforce, first in the state court litigation, and now here. The movants do not seek direct

enforcement of the rulings set forth in this court’s 1995 Memorandum Opinion and Order—nor

could they in a case in which eighteen years ago, the parties stipulated to dismissal with prejudice

in lieu of entry of a final judgment on the merits. Nor do they seek to vindicate specific

employee rights under the 1987 Basic Labor Agreement more than twenty-six years after the

Pickering plaintiffs’ employment was terminated by the sale of the Geneva plant. Instead the

26

(...continued)

highest state court in which review is available has affirmed the judgment below and nothing is
left to be resolved’; (2) ‘if the state action has reached a point where neither party seeks further
action’; or (3) ‘if the state court proceedings have finally resolved all the federal questions in the
litigation, but state law or purely factual questions (whether great or small) remain to be
litigated.’” Guttman, 446 F.3d at 1032 (quoting Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico v. Junta
de Relaciones del Trabajo de Puerto Rico, 410 F.3d 17, 24–25 (1st Cir. 2005)).

27

(Chilton-Glazier Mem. at 15.)

- 14 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 15 of 17

movants’ arguments turn upon the construction and enforcement of the terms of the USX

settlement agreement in this case.

The movants insist that the actual distribution of the USX settlement fund should have

comported more strictly with the remedies delineated by this court as to the twenty-three

bellwether plaintiffs, particularly as to the vacation pay component of the remedial back pay

awards. Yet eighteen years later, the specific terms of the USX settlement and the particulars of

the actual distribution of the settlement fund are still not before this court.

As explained to the assembled Pickering plaintiffs at the June 28, 1995 Mountain View

High School meeting, plaintiffs’ counsel anticipated a distribution of the USX settlement funds

that would approximately equate with what the plaintiffs would have received had the remedies

prescribed by this court’s 1995 Memorandum Opinion and Order been implemented by analogy

as to all 1,675 remaining plaintiffs. Counsel acknowledged at the June 28th meeting that the

anticipated settlement distribution would be accomplished through standard awards calculated

through averaging of employee categories rather than by detailed, individualized case-by-case

computations.

Of necessity, such a formulation is somewhat imprecise and inescapably imperfect.

Individual circumstances were to be addressed by a hearing officer empowered to make

case-by-case equitable adjustments to settlement distributions using a special fund set aside for

that purpose.

28

28

The vacation pay issue was raised before the hearing officer, but not conclusively

resolved. The hearing officer, former Third District Judge Scott Daniels, reported that “[o]ne
issue has arisen repeatedly.”

- 15 -

(continued...)

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 16 of 17

In a case as large and complex as this one, settlement bespeaks compromise, and

compromise bespeaks approximate, but imperfect justice.

The actual distribution of the USX settlement fund may not have precisely mirrored this

court’s prescribed remedies as to the twenty-three bellwether plaintiffs, but it succeeded in

putting significant amounts of money into the pockets of the prevailing bellwether plaintiffs—as

well as the 1,652 remaining plaintiffs—without awaiting the years that would have been required

to adjudicate that many individual claims in court, and free from the nagging uncertainty that

always attends matters pending on appeal.

The movants’ misgivings about that process were resolved against them in the state court

proceeding that they pursued to finality in the state court of appeals, and at this point, given the

jurisdictional consequences of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this court simply cannot alter that

outcome.



For that reason,

IT IS ORDERED that “Plaintiffs’ Motion for an Order Commanding Defendants to Pay

(...continued)
28
That issue is: vacation which would have accrued during the 1987 idling period.
It is clear that had it not been for the unlawful idling everyone working at the steel
mill would have accrued vacation. If any plaintiff is entitled to this award, every
steel mill employee is also entitled, not just the 400 or so workers who applied for
a special hearing. When Judge Jenkins calculated damages for the Bellweather
[sic] plaintiffs, he offset 1986 vacation (paid in 1987) as a reduction to damages.
Nevertheless, in calculating the standard award to each of the plaintiff groups, this
vacation was not offset, nor did I offset it in calculating the additional awards
from the equitable fund. Therefore, it would be inconsistent to add the vacation
which would have accrued in 1987 and paid in 1988. In addition, it wouldn’t be
fair to compensate the workers who applied for a special hearing for their
vacations without compensating all two thousand plaintiffs. Therefore I have not
awarded any plaintiff additional money for 1987 vacations.

- 16 -

Case 2:87-cv-00838-BSJ Document 825 Filed 09/19/13 Page 17 of 17

· and Plaintiffs' Motion for an Order Recognizing a Vitiated State Court Ruling" (CMIECF No.


812), is hereby STRICKEN, as are the subsidiary motions and requests filed in connection


therewith (CM/ECF Nos. 818, 820, 814 & 822).


1"~

DATED this " day of September, 2013.

BY THE COURT:

- 17 ­