Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
STATE EX REL. EAST CLEVELAND FIREFIGHTERS, IAFF LOCAL 500 AFL-CIO, ET AL. Relators,
CITY OF EAST CLEVELAND, ET AL., Respondents.
of Mandamus Motion No. 533285 Order No. 534513
J. Lemmerbrock, Muskovitz & Lemmerbrock L.L.C., for
M. Hemmons, Law Director City of East Cleveland, for
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
SPATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, J.
1} The East Cleveland Firefighters Union, IAFF Local
500, AFL-CIO and East Cleveland Firefighters Union, IAFF
President Thomas Bluth, hereinafter both referred to as
("Union"), have filed a complaint for a writ of
mandamus. The Union seeks to compel the city of East
Cleveland, East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King, and East
Cleveland Finance Director Charles Iyahen, hereinafter all
three referred to as ("City"), "to pay the
[Union] $103, 000 in sanctions, $5, 000 in attorney fees, and
$14, 440.61 thus far accrued in statutory interest - a total
of $122, 440.61" previously awarded in E. Cleveland
Firefighters v. E. Cleveland, Cuyahoga C.P. No.
CV-16-861942. The City has filed a joint Civ.R. 12(B)(6)
motion to dismiss that we grant, albeit for reasons different
than those argued by the City.
2} In April 2016, the Union filed a grievance and
for arbitration alleging that the City had violated a
collective bargaining agreement by unilaterally understaffing
the fire department on each daily shift. On April 15, 2016,
the Union filed a complaint in CV-16-861942 for a temporary
restraining order, preliminary injunction, and declaratory
and injunctive relief. The trial court granted the
Union's request for injunctive relief and ordered that
the City refrain from violating the terms of the collective
bargaining agreement pending arbitration. On April 25, 2016,
the trial court granted the Union's motion for a
preliminary injunction and further imposed a fine of $750 for
each day of the City's failure to comply with the
collective bargaining agreement. The City continued its
noncompliance with the collective bargaining agreement that
resulted in the trial court increasing sanctions to $1, 250
per day and attorney fees in the amount of $5, 000. In
addition, the Union filed a motion to reduce the sanctions
imposed upon the City to judgment, which the trial court
granted in the amount of $103, 000. The City appealed the
contempt finding and monetary judgment of $103, 000. In E
Cleveland Firefighters v. E Cleveland, 8th Dist.
Cuyahoga No. 104948, 2017-Ohio-1558, this court affirmed the
trial court's judgment that reduced the monetary
sanctions imposed upon the City in the amount of $103, 000.
3} In March 2018, the Union once again filed a
second motion to reduce the sanctions imposed upon the City
to a monetary judgment. On April 5, 2018, the trial court
granted the Union's motion and reduced the monetary
obligations owed by the City to $248, 750. The City appealed
the trial court's judgment. In E Cleveland
Firefighters v. E Cleveland, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No.
107034, 2019-Ohio-534, this court reversed the trial
court's April 5, 2018 judgment that reduced sanctions to
a monetary judgment of $248, 750 on the basis that the trial
court failed to conduct a hearing before reducing the
sanctions to a monetary judgment. The appeal was remanded to
the trial court for further proceedings based upon the
failure of the trial court to conduct a hearing prior to
reducing sanctions to a monetary judgment.
4} On September 9, 2019, the trial court conducted a
hearing with regard to the Union's motion to reduce
sanctions to a monetary judgment. At the conclusion of the
hearing, the trial court entered a monetary judgment against
the City in the total amount of $264, 744.11, which consisted
of the original amount of $248, 750 plus interest in the
amount of $15, 994.11. On September 9, 2019, the City filed a
notice of appeal from the trial court's judgment of
September 9, 2019. See E. Cleveland Firefighters v. E.
Cleveland, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 108982.
Mandamus Requirements and Analysis
5} The Union, in order to be entitled to a writ of
mandamus, must demonstrate that: (1) the Union possesses a
clear legal right to have the City immediately satisfy the
$122, 440 judgment rendered in Cuyahoga C.P. No.
CV-16-861942; (2) the City possesses a clear duty to
immediately satisfy the $122, 440 monetary judgment rendered
in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CV-16-861942; and (3) the Union
possesses no plain and adequate remedy in the ordinary course
of the law. State ex rel. Kerns v. Simmers, 153 Ohio
St.3d 103, 2018-Ohio-256, 1010 N.E.3d 430; State ex rel
Berger v. McMonagle, 6 Ohio St.3d 28, 451 N.E.2d 225
(1983). Moreover, mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that is
to be exercised with caution and only when the right is
clear. Mandamus will not issue in doubtful cases. State
ex rel. Taylor v. Glasser, 50 Ohio St.2d 165, 364 N.E.2d
1 (1977); and State ex rel Connole v. Cleveland Bd. of
Edn., 87 Ohio App.3d 43, 621 N.E.2d 850 (8th
6} Upon a review of the complaint for a writ of
mandamus, we find that the Union has failed to establish that
it possesses a clear legal right to the immediate
satisfaction of the $122, 440.61 judgment and that the City
possesses a clear legal duty to immediately satisfy the $122,
440.61 judgment. Of greater importance is that the Supreme
Court of Ohio has stated that an action in mandamus is not
intended to be used to enforce a judgment. See State ex
rel Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Henson, 96 Ohio
St.3d 33, 2002-Ohio-2851, 770 N.E.2d 580; State ex rel.
Shemo v. Mayfield Hts., 93 Ohio St.3d 1, 2001-Ohio-1294,
752 N.E.2d 854. "The use of a mandamus to enforce a
judgment is not popular and widespread because other avenues
of enforcement are readily available." Hunt v.
Westlake City School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 114 Ohio App.3d
563, 568, 683 N.E.2d 803 (8th Dist. 1996). A contempt motion,
filed in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CV-16-861942, constitutes an
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law. State
ex rel GMS Mgmt. Co. v. Vivo, 7th Dist. Mahoning No.
10-MA-1, 2010-Ohio-4184; State ex rel Humbert v.
Russo, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 94065, 2009-Ohio-5706;
State ex rel Brady v. Russo, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No.
89552, 2007-Ohio-33277. The Union possesses or possessed an
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law through a
motion for contempt or an appeal from a denial of a motion
for contempt. State ex rel Tran v. McGrath, 78 Ohio
St.3d 45, 676 N.E.2d 108 (1997); State ex rel Johnson v.
Cuyahoga Cty. Court of Common Pleas, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga
No. 104891, 2017-Ohio-394.
7} Finally, the City has availed itself of an
appeal, filed in E Cleveland Firefighters v. E
Cleveland, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 108982, that remains
pending. It must also be noted that the amount of the
monetary judgment that is owed to the Union is in dispute and
the subject of the appeal currently pending in 8th Dist.
Cuyahoga No. 108982.