Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
CITY OF MT. HEALTHY, Plaintiff-Appellee,
FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, OHIO LABOR COUNCIL, INC., Defendant-Appellant.
Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas No.
Schroeder, Maundrell, Barbiere & Powers, Lawrence E.
Barbiere, Scott A. Sollmann and Jonathan T. Deters, for
M. Sapp and Gwen Callender, for Defendant-Appellant.
The Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council, Inc.,
("FOP") has appealed from the trial court's
entry vacating an arbitration award that had been entered in
its favor against the city of Mt. Healthy.
On February 16, 2014, Mt. Healthy hired Antwan Sparks as a
part-time police officer. Pursuant to the collective
bargaining agreement ("CBA") entered into between
the FOP on behalf of part-time patrolmen and Mt. Healthy, all
newly hired part-time employees were subject to a one-year
On June 30, 2014, Sparks was injured in the line of duty and
was assigned to light duty. He returned to duty on August 2,
2014, but was again assigned to light duty on September 22,
2014, where he remained until April 22, 2015. Because of the
amount of time that Sparks had spent on light duty, Mt.
Healthy Police Chief Vincent Demasi and City Manager Bill
Kocher determined that they could not adequately evaluate
Sparks's performance and that his probationary period
needed to be extended. On January 13, 2015, Kocher spoke with
the FOP staff representative regarding extension of
Sparks's probationary period. The union representative
agreed to the extension. That same day, Demasi delivered a
letter to Sparks notifying him about the extension of the
probationary period. Because he had not returned to duty, Mt.
Healthy did not give him an end date to his probationary
Approximately four months later, on May 14, 2015, Demasi gave
Sparks a second letter stating that his probationary period
was extended until December 4, 2015. After receiving this
letter, Sparks filed a grievance against Mt. Healthy, which
proceeded to arbitration. On behalf of Sparks, the FOP argued
that the extension of Sparks's probationary period
violated the terms of the CBA. The arbitrator did not reach
the merits of this argument, but rather sustained
Sparks's grievance after finding that the FOP and Mt.
Healthy could not extend the probationary period without
obtaining consent from Sparks. After concluding that Sparks
had successfully completed his probationary period-one year
without any extension-the arbitrator ordered that Sparks be
returned to duty as a part-time officer.
Mt. Healthy filed a motion to vacate the arbitrator's
award, arguing that the arbitrator had exceeded his powers
and had deviated from the essence of the CBA. The FOP filed a
memorandum in opposition and requested that the award be
confirmed. The trial court granted Mt. Healthy's motion
The FOP has appealed the trial court's entry, arguing in
four assignments of error that the trial court erred by: (1)
determining that the arbitrator exceeded his powers; (2)
determining that the arbitrator imperfectly performed his
duties; (3) misapplying the test for overturning an
arbitrator's award; and (4) failing to confirm the
arbitration award. Because these arguments are related, we
address them together.
Arbitrators have great latitude in issuing a decision, as
long as they act within the scope of the contract. Cedar
Fair, L.P. v. Falfas, 140 Ohio St.3d 447,
2014-Ohio-3943, 19 N.E.3d 893, ¶ 6. Pursuant to R.C.
2711.10, a trial court may vacate an arbitrator's award
only under very limited circumstances, including when the
arbitrator has exceeded her or his power. R.C. 2711.10(D).
Arbitrators exceed their power when they go beyond their
contractual authority to craft a remedy under the law.
Falfas at ¶ 7. When an award "draws its
essence" from the parties' contract, an arbitrator
has acted within her or his authority to craft an award.
Id. But an arbitrator's award departs from the
essence of the contract when "(1) the award conflicts
with the express terms of the agreement, and/or (2) the award
is without rational support or cannot be rationally derived
from the terms of the agreement." Id., quoting
Ohio Office of Collective Bargaining v. Ohio Civ. Serv.
Emps. Assn., Local 11, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, 59 Ohio St.3d
177, 572 N.E.2d 71 (1991), syllabus.
Following our review of the record, we hold that the
arbitrator's award, based on his finding that the FOP
representative and Mt. Healthy could not extend Sparks's
probationary period without his personal consent, did not
draw its essence from the terms of the CBA. Section 13.7 of
the CBA provides that the arbitrator could not make any
decision "[c]ontrary to, or inconsistent with, or
modifying or varying in any way the terms of this Agreement
or applicable laws." Section 1.1 of the CBA provides
that the purpose of the agreement is for Mt. Healthy and the
FOP, on behalf of the part-time patrolmen, to set forth
"the full and complete understandings and agreements
between the parties governing wages, hours, terms and
conditions of employment for those employees included in the
bargaining unit." And section 3.1 of the CBA provides
that "[t]he Employer recognizes the Fraternal Order of
Police, Ohio Labor Council, Inc. as the sole and exclusive
representative for all part-time employees in the bargaining
The arbitrator's conclusion that the probationary period
could not be extended without Sparks's personal consent
conflicted with both applicable law and sections 1.1 and 3.1
of the CBA. Under the terms of the CBA, the FOP had sole and
exclusive authority to represent all part-time patrolmen in
matters concerning the terms and conditions of employment.
This included the authority to agree to an extension of the
probationary period. The FOP was granted the authority to act
on behalf of its members.
Moreover, the arbitrator's decision was contrary to law.
Under agency principles, the union representative, as the
"exclusive representative for all part-time employees,
" acted as Sparks's agent and had the authority to
agree to an extension of the probationary period without
Sparks's personal consent. See Damon's Missouri
Inc. v. Davis,63 Ohio St.3d 605, 608, 590 N.E.2d 254
(1992) ("an agent, acting ...