United Airlines, Inc. v. McDonald

PETITIONER: United Airlines, Inc.
RESPONDENT: McDonald
LOCATION: James R. Browning Courthouse

DOCKET NO.: 76-545
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 432 US 385 (1977)
ARGUED: Mar 29, 1977
DECIDED: Jun 20, 1977

ADVOCATES:
Stuart Bernstein - for petitioner
Thomas R. Meites - for respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United Airlines, Inc. v. McDonald

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 1977 in United Airlines, Inc. v. McDonald

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 20, 1977 in United Airlines, Inc. v. McDonald

Potter Stewart:

The second case in which I am authorized to announce the opinion and judgment of the Court this morning is United Airlines, Incorporated against Liane Buix McDonald, Number 76-545, the case which is hereby way of the grant of a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that an application to intervene in federal litigation must be timely.

In this case, a motion to intervene was filed promptly after the final judgment of a District Court for the purpose of appealing the Court's earlier denial of class action certification.

The question presented is whether this motion was timely under Rule 24.

The suit was originally brought as a class action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It attacked the now abrogated policy of United Airlines requiring its female flight attendants to remain unmarried as a condition of their continued employment.

The respondent, a former United Airlines stewardess, was an unnamed member of the putative class. During the course of the litigation, the District Court stripped the case of its character as a class action and ultimately granted relief to the named plaintiffs.

During the time allowed for an appeal for the final judgment, the respondent moved to intervene in the District Court for the sole purpose of appealing the Court's earlier order denying class action status.

The District Court held that this motion came too late, but the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed.

We now affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the reason set out in a written opinion of the Court filed today with the clerk.

We hold that in the circumstances of this case, the respondent's motion to intervene was a timely one under Rule 24.

Mr. Justice Powell has filed a dissenting opinion which the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice White have joined and Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Stewart.