Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Barbara A. Langhenry Director of Law
Cleveland Law Department William M. Menzalora Chief Assistant
Director of Law Janeane R. Cappara Assistant Director of Law.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Robert M. Phillips Joseph D. Mando
Faulkner, Hoffman & Phillips, L.L.P.
BEFORE: Blackmon, J., McCormack, P.J., and Stewart, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, JUDGE.
The city of Cleveland ("the City") appeals from the
trial court's journal entry denying in part and granting
in part the City's motion to vacate or modify arbitration
award and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8's
("FOP") motion to confirm and enforce arbitration
award. The City assigns the following error for our review:
I. The trial court erred to the prejudice of appellant by
affirming part of the arbitrator's award because the
arbitrator exceeded his powers and also so imperfectly
executed them that a mutual, final, and definite award upon
the subject matter of the arbitration was not made because he
issued an arbitration decision that was arbitrary and
capricious, and, thereby, dispensed his own brand of
Having reviewed the record and pertinent law, we affirm the
decision of the trial court. The apposite facts follow.
On November 29, 2012, over 100 police officers in 58 patrol
cars as well as several unmarked police cars were involved in
a 23-minute pursuit of a speeding vehicle, which culminated
in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa
Williams. Two investigations of the incident revealed that 13
Cleveland police officers fired more than 137 bullets into
the vehicle, when the pursuit ended in a parking lot in East
Cleveland. According to the investigations, Russell and
Williams were unarmed. At least 25 of the officers involved
in the pursuit, nine of whom fired their weapons, were under
the command of Cleveland Police Sergeants Randolph Daley,
Patricia Coleman, Brian Chetnik, and Matthew Putnam
(collectively "the Grievants"). The investigations
determined that, in general, the Grievants failed to
supervise their subordinates and failed to comply with
various police department policies.
On June 11, 2013, the City suspended without pay Coleman for
20 days; Daley for 15 days; and Putnam for ten days. On June
13, 2013, the FOP filed grievances pursuant to the collective
bargaining agreement ("the CBA") between the City
and the FOP on behalf of Coleman, Daley, and Putnam
requesting the following relief: that the suspensions be
rescinded; that the sergeants be "made whole" for
time lost due to the suspensions; that disciplinary records
related to the suspensions be removed from the sergeants'
files; and that "the division" publicly notify the
City's police force that the sergeants have been cleared
of the allegations.
On July 18, 2013, the City suspended Chetnick without pay for
ten days. On July 22, 2013, the FOP filed a grievance
pursuant to the CBA on behalf of Chetnik, requesting relief
identical to that requested for Coleman, Daley, and Putnam.
On August 7, 2013, the City denied all four grievances,
finding that "[management acted in a proper manner and
no clause of the [CBA] was violated." The FOP invoked
the arbitration provision of the CBA, and on March 19 and 20,
2014, an arbitrator held hearings on the grievances.
On May 24, 2015, the arbitrator issued an award finding that
the City did not have "just cause" to discipline
any of the Grievants. The award revoked Coleman, Daley,
Putnam, and Chetnik's suspensions in full and permanently
removed "all departmental records of these respective
suspensions" from the City's files. On August 18,
2015, the City initiated this case by filing a motion to
vacate or modify the arbitration award. In turn, the FOP
filed an application to confirm and enforce the arbitration
award. On March 14, 2017, the court issued an opinion
enforcing the arbitration award in part and vacating the
award in part. Specifically, the court granted the City's
motion to vacate the award regarding the removal and
destruction of the disciplinary records from the
Grievants' files and granted the FOP's motion to
enforce the award revoking the suspensions.
Put another way, the court upheld the arbitrator's
conclusion that the City did not have just cause to take any
disciplinary action against the Grievants. In addition, the
court found that the arbitrator lacked authority to purge the
Grievants' disciplinary files. It is from this order that
the City appeals.
Courts review arbitration awards under the limited standard
found in R.C. 2711.10, which states, in pertinent part, as
follows: "the court of common pleas shall make an order
vacating the award * * * if * * * (D) The arbitrators
exceeded their powers, or so imperfectly executed them that a
mutual, final, and definite award upon the subject matter
submitted was not made." Generally, an arbitrator has
not exceeded his or her authority when an arbitration award
"draws its essence" from the underlying contract.
Bd. of Edn. of Findlay City School Dist. v. Findlay Edn.
Assn., 49 Ohio St.3d 129, 132, 551 N.E.2d 186 (1990).
"An arbitrator's award draws its essence from a
collective bargaining agreement when there is a rational
nexus between the agreement and the award, and where the
award is not arbitrary, capricious or unlawful."
Mahoning Cty. Bd. of Mental Retardation & Dev.
Disabilities v. Mahoning Cty. TMR Education Assn., 22
Ohio St.3d 80, 84, 488 N.E.2d 872 (1986).
An appellate court's standard regarding arbitration
awards is confined to reviewing the trial court order.
Orwell Natural Gas Co. v. PCC Airfoils, L.L.C, 189
Ohio App.3d 90, 2010-Ohio-3093, 937 N.E.2d 609 (8th
Dist.2010). "The substantive merits of the original
arbitration award are not reviewable on appeal absent
evidence of material mistake or extensive impropriety. A de
novo review of the ...