Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Local Union No. 860 v. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 8, 2019

LABORER'S INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, LOCAL UNION NO. 860, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CUYAHOGA COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT, JUVENILE DIVISION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

          Appeal from Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CV18 894745

          Michael C. O'Malley and Matthew D. Greenwell for Appellant

          Joseph J. Guarino, III for Appellee

          OPINION

          SHAW, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division (hereinafter, the "Juvenile Court"), appeals the December 12, 2018 judgment entry issued by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas[1]granting the complaint and motion to compel arbitration filed by plaintiff-appellee, Laborers' International Union of North America, Local Union No. 860, (hereinafter the "Union"), and overruling the Juvenile Court's motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Procedural History

         {¶2} On March 19, 2018, the Union filed a "Complaint for Order Compelling Arbitration and Selection of Arbitrator in a Reasonable Timely Manner" pursuant to R.C. 2711.03, and a request for a declaratory judgment under R.C. 2721.02. In this complaint, the Union alleged that the Juvenile Court refused to arbitrate a grievance regarding mileage reimbursement under the process set forth in the parties' Collective Bargaining Agreement (hereinafter the "CBA").[2] The Juvenile Court timely filed an Answer arguing that mileage reimbursement policy changes were discretionary management decisions and not subject to arbitration under the CBA. The Juvenile further requested that the Union's complaint be dismissed.

         {¶3} On April 20, 2018, the Union filed an amended complaint elaborating upon the mileage reimbursement issue specifically stating that the Juvenile Court had "failed and refused to process a grievance regarding the [Juvenile] Court's past practice of reimbursing employees for mileage at IRS rates, and [failed] to provide the Union with fourteen (14) days advance notice prior to making unilateral changes in policies which affect a mandatory term and condition of employment." (Doc. No. 5 at ¶ 12).

         {¶4} The Union also alleged that the Juvenile Court had refused to follow the grievance procedure set forth in the parties' CBA regarding grievances filed by the Union based upon claims that the Juvenile Court suspended and terminated several employees without just cause. In particular, the Union maintained that the CBA required the Juvenile Court to hold "Step 2 grievance meetings" within ten working days of the receipt of the Union's grievances, which the Juvenile Court failed to do. (Id.). The Union requested an order compelling the Juvenile Court to submit these grievances to arbitration.

         {¶5} The Juvenile Court subsequently filed an Answer to the Amended Complaint reiterating its position that mileage reimbursement rates are the prerogative of the employer in addition to not being specifically addressed in the CBA. With respect to the Union's claim that it failed to comply with the CBA's grievance procedure, the Juvenile Court argued that "[t]he collective bargaining agreement requires that the dates for hearings on grievances be scheduled within 10 days and not that hearings be held within 10 days." (Doc. No. 12, ¶ 28, 30).

         {¶6} The trial court held a pre-trial hearing and issued the following entry. "Pre-trial held. Parties shall file cross motions on issues involving mileage and scheduling. Telephone conference set for 12/14/18 @ 11:45 p.m. To be initiated by [Plaintiffs] counsel." (Doc. No. 13).

         {¶7} On November 1, 2018, the Juvenile Court filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. On the same day, the Union filed a "Brief In Support of Action Compelling Arbitration, and Selection of Arbitrators for Pending Discipline Grievances in a Reasonable Timely Manner," with several accompanying exhibits.

         {¶8} On December 12, 2018, the trial court issued a decision on the matter granting the Union's "Complaint for an Order Compelling Arbitration and Selection of Arbitrator in a Reasonable Timely Manner," and overruling the Juvenile Court's Motion for Summary Judgment. Specifically, the trial court determined that both the mileage and meeting scheduling issues involved the parties' disputes regarding the interpretation and application of the CBA which ultimately be should be resolved by an arbitrator. Accordingly, the trial court issued an order compelling the Juvenile Court to submit the Union's grievances to arbitration and ordered the Juvenile Court to select the arbitrator for the pending grievances in a timely manner.

         {¶9} The Juvenile Court filed this appeal, asserting the following assignments of error.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY DENYING APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2

         THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY SUA SPONTE GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO APPELLEE, WHEN THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO GIVE NOTICE TO APPELLANT THAT IT WAS TREATING A BRIEF FILED BY APPELLEE AS A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND FAILED TO GIVE APPELLANT ANY OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND TO THE ERRONEOUS LEGALLY AND FACTUALLY UNSUPPORTED CLAIMS MADE BY APPELLEE.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 3

         THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY IMPROPERLY CONSIDERING AND RELYING UPON EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT THAT WAS NOT SWORN, CERTIFIED, OR AUTHENTICATED BY AFFIDAVIT IN VIOLATION OF CIV.R. 56(C).

         First Assignment of Error

         {¶10} In its first assignment of error, the Juvenile Court claims that the trial court erred when it overruled its motion for summary judgment and determined that the mileage and grievance procedure issues raised by the Union in its amended complaint were arbitrable under the parties' CBA.

         Standard of Review

         {¶11} We apply a de novo standard of review to determine whether a controversy is arbitrable under an arbitration provision of a contract. Pantages v. Becker, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 106407, 2018-Ohio-3170, ¶ 7. Although there is a presumption in Ohio favoring arbitration, parties cannot be compelled to arbitrate a dispute they have not agreed to submit to arbitration. Natale v. Frantz Ward, L.L.P., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 106299, 2018-Ohio-1412, ¶ 9.

         {¶12} The Supreme Court of Ohio consistently has held as follows:

"[A]rbitration is a matter of contract and a party cannot be required to submit to arbitration any dispute which [it] has not agreed so to submit." * * * This axiom recognizes the fact that arbitrators derive their authority to resolve disputes only because the parties have agreed to submit such grievances to arbitration.'" Council of Smaller Ents. v. Gates, McDonald & Co. (1998), 80 Ohio St.3d 661, 665, 1998 Ohio 172, 687 N.E.2d 1352, quoting AT & T Technologies, Inc. v. Communications Workers of Am. (1986), 475 U.S. 643, 648-649, 106 S.Ct. 1415, 89 L.Ed.2d 648, quoting United Steel Workers of Am. v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co. (1960), 363 U.S. 574, 582, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409. Accordingly, when deciding motions to compel arbitration, the proper focus is whether the parties actually agreed to arbitrate the issue, i.e., the scope of the arbitration clause, not the general policies of the arbitration statutes. [Equal Emp. Opportunity Comm. v. Waffle House (2002), 534 U.S. 279, 294, 122 S.Ct. 754, 151 L.Ed.2d 755.] It follows that although any ambiguities in the language of a contract containing an arbitration provision should be resolved in favor of arbitration, the courts must not "override the clear intent of the parties, or reach a result inconsistent with the plain text of the contract, simply because the policy favoring arbitration is implicated." Id.

Taylor v. Ernst & Young, L.L.P., 130 Ohio St.3d 411, 2011-Ohio-5262, 958 N.E.2d 1203, ¶ 20.

         {¶13} The question of whether a controversy is arbitrable under the provisions of a contract is a question for a court to decide upon examination of the contract. Gibbons-Grable Co. v. Gilbane Bldg. Co., 34 Ohio App.3d 170, 171, 517 N.E.2d 559 (8th Dist.1986). "When confronted with an issue of contract interpretation, the role of the court is to give effect to the intent of the parties to that agreement. The court examines the contract as a whole and presumes that the intent of the parties is reflected in the language used in the agreement." Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties, LLC v. PUC of Ohio, 129 Ohio St.3d 485, 2011-Ohio-4189, 954 N.E.2d 104, ¶ 22, citing Westfield Ins. Co. v. Galatis, 100 Ohio St.3d 216, 2003-Ohio-5849, 797 N.E.2d 1256, ¶ 11. Further, "[i]n interpreting a provision in a written contract, the words used should be read in context and given their usual and ordinary meaning." Carroll Weir Funeral Home v. Miller, 2 Ohio St.2d 189, 192, 207 N.E.2d 747 (1965).

         Provisions in the CBA

         {¶14} At issue in this case are grievances filed by the Union regarding two nonrelated matters. First, whether the Juvenile Court failed to comply with the grievance procedure set forth in the CBA regarding the termination and suspension of employees. Second, whether the Juvenile Court's decision to change its mileage reimbursement policy was an action covered by the CBA, and if so, whether the Juvenile Court failed to adhere to the procedure set forth the in the CBA when it unilaterally implemented that change. We shall address each matter in turn.

         1. Scheduling a Step 2 Meeting under the CBA

         {¶15} This first matter is related to the disciplinary action taken by the Juvenile Court which resulted in the termination and suspension of multiple employees. The record indicates that the terminations and suspensions arose out of the investigation of an incident involving several employees and a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.