THE CAMPBELL, ET AL. V. AMTRAK CLASS ACTION LITIGATION
Pending Litigation in the District Court for the District of Columbia
Campbell, et al. v. Amtrak, 1:99CV02979 (EGS)
MAJOR NEW DEVELOPMENTS
- CLASS CERTIFICATION HAS BEEN DENIED BY THE DISTRICT COURT
- AMTRAK REQUESTS SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS – TO COMMENCE THIS AUTUMN
- PLAINTIFFS’ CASES WILL PROCEED INDIVIDUALLY
- NEW PLAINTIFFS CAN BE INCLUDED IN SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS – MOST NEED TO ACT BY OCTOBER 9, 2018
- ALL STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS TOLLED BY PARTIES’ AGREEMENT
On April 26, 2018, the District Court for the District of Columbia suddenly canceled the May 11, 2018 hearing that it had recently scheduled, and issued a 107-page ruling on class certification and other related issues. Most significantly, the Court DENIED class certification entirely. This means that the claims of African-American employees and applicants who believe they were discriminated against by Amtrak in promotions, hiring, training, terminations, and discipline, will be litigated individually.
Importantly, this also means that, other the 71 named plaintiffs already in Campbell, et al. v. Amtrak, any other African-American employee, former employee, or applicant who was a putative class member in Campbell – in other words, anyone else who wants to have his or her employment race discrimination claim adjudicated – will either have to join Campbell or else file his or her own new case in court.
The Court also ruled that the Campbell Plaintiffs cannot proceed with a “disparate treatment” theory. This result was not surprising in view of the decision denying class certification.
Here are links to the full text of the District Court’s class certification denial order in Campbell, et al. v. Amtrak, 1:99CV02979 (EGS), and the District Court’s 107-page ruling.
However, after the class certification ruling, Amtrak offered to commence settlement negotiations to try to avoid more litigation – and we have accepted. Settlement negotiations aimed at a comprehensive global settlement of the entire Campbell litigation will commence in the fall.
In order to begin settlement negotiations, a number of important things must be done.
- As part of the agreement to being negotiations, we insisted, and Amtrak agreed, that all statutes of limitation for filing new cases in court or EEOC charges be tolled – that is, stayed – until October 9, 2018. This means that we must have everything filed in Court by that date. To participate in the Campbell v. Amtrak case, we must confirm with you by Monday, October 1, 2018 that you want to be in the case. This can be done by phone or email. In addition, you must 1) sign a retainer agreement, and 2) complete the New Client Questionnaire before October 9, 2018. Please understand that there is a legal deadline of October 9, 2018, so your claims may not be included if you do not notify your attorneys by October 1, 2018 of your intent to join. (If, by operation of law, your own particular time to file an EEOC charge or a lawsuit is later than that date, for example, if your claims arose very recently, then you would still have until your later date.)
- Former putative class members, in other words, African-American employees at Amtrak in union-represented jobs (other than BMWE-represented workers in the Northeast Corridor), and African-American applicants for such jobs, do not need to formally join Campbell, or file their own cases, until AFTER the settlement negotiations are completed (assuming no settlement is reached), provided they are represented by Campbell plaintiffs’ counsel.
- The parties agreed that such persons can be included in the settlement negotiations as long as they are represented by Campbell plaintiffs’ counsel so that we do not have to go through the formal court filings to add plaintiffs. Amtrak is reserving its rights to challenge joinder of any person on legal grounds, should the settlement negotiations fail.
- Thus, to be included in the settlement negotiations process, all you have to do is to sign a retainer agreement with Campbell plaintiffs’ counsel.
- All statutes of limitations are tolled – beyond the October 9, 2018 date mentioned above – throughout the pendency of the settlement negotiations for all such persons who retain the Campbell plaintiffs’ attorneys.
- The parties have agreed to use the services of a mediator this fall. If she is available and willing, the parties will be bringing in Linda Singer of JAMS, who successfully mediated the settlements of the first two cases of the “Amtrak Trilogy.”
- The parties will be reporting regularly to the District Court regarding the procedures and progress of the settlement negotiations.
- Much communication with existing Campbell plaintiffs and with new Campbell plaintiffs will have to occur in the coming weeks in order to prepare for settlement negotiations.
- A questionnaire will be sent to new plaintiffs so that their employment history with Amtrak and their race discrimination claims and their damages are fully understood. We will ask for documents as well.
- There will be a great deal of dialogue, including “town hall” style meetings or conference calls with existing and new plaintiffs, and questionnaires, in order to understand everyone’s views on settlement.
- Importantly, your individual claims are yours and only you can decide whether or not to settle them. On the other hand, if we do not get full agreement, it is unlikely any settlement will come to fruition. We have a plan for how to handle this and we will explain it to you in detail. Our goal must be to have everyone on our side and in agreement on our approach – and then we get to the hard part – getting Amtrak to agree! If we all pull together, WE CAN DO THIS!
- We all must realize that every settlement is a compromise. In a settlement, no one ever gets everything they want. We must enter into this process committed to understanding that basic principle.
- The settlement negotiations will be a process that will take time. We ask for your patience yet again. However, compared to the long wait we have endured during litigation, this process will move rapidly. We expect the negotiations to occur over the fall and possibly extend into the winter.
- All clients must be involved and engaged and committed to this process. Some will work with the lawyers directly. But we value everyone’s input and communication. And remember, this is a confidential process, so we need to have your good contact information, especially email addresses, so that we can communicate effectively. This webpage will be used for major announcements, but it is publicly accessible, and thus, will not be used for confidential, attorney-client communications.
- Right now, we need your help! We want to make sure everyone who has suffered race discrimination at Amtrak since 1996 is able to participate.
- Please use all your networking resources to get the word out to your African-American co-workers at Amtrak (in union-represented jobs other than track workers in the NE Corridor) who may want to participate in Campbell. And don’t forget the unsuccessful job applicants, if you know any – they can be part of Campbell, too.
- Tell interested people to contact us and get the information they need to join, if they want to. The Campbell “train leaves the station” on October 9, 2018.
Here are additional links to our reports to the District Court regarding tolling the statutes of limitation and the commencement of settlement negotiations.
Stipulation of Tolling of Statutes of Limitation filed July 11, 2018
Joint Status Report regarding Settlement Negotiations filed July 30, 2018
The following is a quote that Campbell attorney Timothy Fleming gave to Law360, a legal publication, after the class certification denial:
“Today’s decision is disappointing, certainly. Yet, we have a very resilient and determined group of African-American plaintiffs and co-workers who have persevered for almost 20 years in this case while bravely standing up for equality in Amtrak workplaces all across the country. We have great respect for this Court, and so we will now study its decision and plan our next steps in the litigation. We look forward to continuing the fight for workplace justice and equality.”
IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION
Wiggins Childs telephone # dedicated to Campbell v. Amtrak callers: (205) 205-458-1210
Campbell lead attorney in D.C.: Timothy Fleming, of counsel
Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher Goldfarb, PLLC
1211 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Campbell attorney in Birmingham office: Sandra Duca, of counsel
Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher Goldfarb, LLC
The Kress Building
301 19th Street North
Birmingham, AL 35203