The State ex rel. Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council, Inc. v. Court
of Common Pleas of Franklin County et al.
[Cite as State ex rel. Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council, Inc. v.
Franklin Cty. Court of Common Pleas (1996), ___ Ohio St.3d ___.]
Prohibition to prevent common pleas court from exercising further jurisdiction in cause of action involving unfair labor practices charges -- Writ granted, when. (No. 96-1563 -- Submitted July 12, 1996 -- Decided July 22, 1996.)
Pursuant to R.C. Chapter 4117, relator, Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio
Labor Council, Inc. (“FOP/OLC”), is certified as the exclusive representative
of certain bargaining units of state employees, including “Unit 1” and “Unit
15,” which are comprised of Ohio State Highway Patrol Troopers and
As the exclusive representative of the foregoing
bargaining units, FOP/OLC entered into collective bargaining agreements with
the state of Ohio, which are effective from 1994 to 1997, and provide that
FOP/OLC may designate three members of Unit 1 and one member of Unit 15
for release from their job duties “at no loss of pay, seniority or other benefits.”
The agreements further provide that employees released from their regular
work assignments function as full-time representatives of FOP/OLC. In order
to fund these release positions, the parties to the collective bargaining
agreements agreed that the vacation time of each member of the Unit 1 and
Unit 15 bargaining units would be reduced by five and six hours, respectively.
On August 4, 1995, nine FOP lodges and the Ohio Troopers Coalition,
filed a complaint in respondent Franklin County Common Pleas Court alleging
that FOP/OLC had breached the collective bargaining agreements by
unilaterally removing one of their elected employees from a release position
and threatening to remove the remaining three persons elected by the plaintiffs
to release positions in Units 1 and 15. The plaintiffs in the underlying action
requested that the court issue, inter alia, an “injunction” directing FOP/OLC to
restore the removed person to his release position under the collective
bargaining agreements, an injunction preventing FOP/OLC from attempting
any act intended or designed to remove or interfere with the other three release
persons elected to serve in those positions, an order directing FOP/OLC to
render an account and reimburse unit members for the loss of unexpended
donated hours of earned vacation credits permanently lost as a result of
FOP/OLC’s breach of the agreements, and an injunction preventing FOP/OLC
from interfering with the designation and use of other release time provided in
the collective bargaining agreements.
On August 14, 1995, respondent Judge James O’Grady issued a
temporary restraining order (“TRO”) enjoining FOP/OLC from removing the
three remaining release persons and directing that the removed release person
be restored to his release position.
On August 23, 1995, Judge O’Grady
extended the TRO until September 5, 1995. Subsequently, on September 7,
1995, Judge O’Grady extended the restraining order to September 29, 1995.
(But see Civ.R. 65[A]: “Every temporary restraining order * * * shall expire
by its terms within such time after entry, not to exceed fourteen days, as the
court fixes, unless within the time so fixed the order, for good cause shown, is
extended for one like period * * *.” [Emphasis added.]) Judge O’Grady then
held a hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, and that
hearing has not yet been concluded.
In October 1995, the State Employment Relations Board (“SERB”)
dismissed nineteen identically worded unfair labor practice charges filed by
individual members of Units 1 and 15 challenging the same conduct of
FOP/OLC which is the subject of the plaintiffs’ complaint in the underlying
common pleas court action.
SERB determined that FOP/OLC had not
committed any unfair labor practice because FOP/OLC possessed the
“contractual and exclusive right to select the release persons.”
FOP/OLC and the state entered into a memorandum of understanding in
which, effective July 1, 1996, the state would no longer deduct vacation hours
from members of Units 1 and 15, and unit members would no longer be
released from their regular job duties. The plaintiffs in the underlying common
pleas court action filed a motion requesting that FOP/OLC be held in contempt
of the temporary restraining order issued by Judge O’Grady, which had
previously expired. Judge O’Grady issued a show cause order and scheduled a
hearing on the contempt motion for July 9, 1996. It appears, according to
relator’s memorandum in support, that the conclusion of the trial has been
scheduled for August 19, 1996.
FOP/OLC has now filed this action for a writ of prohibition to prevent
and the common pleas court from exercising further
jurisdiction in the underlying action. The cause is now before the court to
determine if the issuance of a writ of prohibition is warranted.
Cloppert, Portman, Sauter, Latanick & Foley, Robert W. Sauter and
Russell E. Carnahan, for relator.
In order for a writ of prohibition to issue, FOP/OLC must
establish that (1) respondents are about to exercise judicial power, (2) the
exercise of judicial power is legally unauthorized, and (3) if the writ is denied,
FOP/OLC will incur injury for which no adequate legal remedy exists. State ex
rel. Barclays Bank PLC v. Hamilton Cty. Court of Common Pleas (1996), 74
Ohio St.3d 536, 540, 660 N.E.2d 458, 461. It is evident here that respondents
have and are continuing to exercise judicial authority in the underlying action.
As to the remaining requirements for a writ of prohibition, prohibition is
unwarranted where relator possesses an adequate remedy in the ordinary course
of law. State ex rel. Newton v. Ct. of Claims (1995), 73 Ohio St.3d 553, 555
653 N.E.2d 366, 369. Absent a patent and unambiguous lack of jurisdiction, a
court having general subject matter jurisdiction can determine its own
jurisdiction, and a party challenging the court’s jurisdiction possesses an
adequate remedy by appeal. State ex rel. Enyart v. O’Neill (1995), 71 Ohio
St.3d 655, 656 646 N.E.2d 1110, 1112. However, where a lower court patently
and unambiguously lacks jurisdiction over the cause, prohibition lies to prevent
any future unauthorized exercise of jurisdiction and to correct the results of
prior jurisdictionally unauthorized actions. State ex rel. Smith v. Frost (1995),
74 Ohio St.3d 107, 109, 656 N.E.2d 673, 676.
FOP/OLC contends that respondents patently and unambiguously lack
jurisdiction over the underlying action for injunctive and other relief. We
agree. The State Employment Relations Board has exclusive jurisdiction to
decide matters committed to it pursuant to R.C. Chapter 4117. Franklin Cty.
Law Enforcement Assn. v. Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9
(1991), 59 Ohio St.3d 167, 572 N.E.2d 87, paragraph one of the syllabus.
Exclusive jurisdiction to resolve charges of unfair labor practices is vested in
SERB in two general areas: (1) where one of the parties files charges with
SERB alleging an unfair labor practice under R.C. 4117.11; or (2) where a
complaint brought before the common pleas
court alleges conduct that
constitutes an unfair labor practice specifically enumerated in R.C. 4117.11. E.
Cleveland v. E. Cleveland Firefighters Local 500, I.A.F.F. (1994), 70 Ohio
St.3d 125, 127-128, 637 N.E.2d 878, 880. Therefore, if a party asserts claims
that arise from or are dependent on the collective bargaining rights created by
R.C. Chapter 4117, the remedies provided in that chapter are exclusive.
Franklin Cty. Law Enforcement Assn., at paragraph two of the syllabus.
Here, as FOP/OLC notes, it appears that based on the common pleas
court complaint filed by plaintiffs, their claims arise from and are dependent
upon the collective bargaining agreements executed by FOP/OLC and the state.
In addition, the complaint filed by the plaintiffs in the underlying action
appears to allege conduct which would constitute unfair labor practices
pursuant to R.C. 4117.11(B)(1), (2), and (6). Therefore, based on Franklin Cty.
Law Enforcement Assn. and E. Cleveland, it appears that respondents patently
and unambiguously lack jurisdiction over all of the claims in the underlying
case. Further, a writ of prohibition will issue to prevent a common pleas court
from exercising jurisdiction over a case which is within the exclusive
jurisdiction of SERB. See, e.g., State ex rel. Cleveland City School Dist. Bd. of
Edn. v. Pokorny (1995), 105 Ohio App.3d 108, 110, 663 N.E.2d 719, 721.
(Any claim which is independent of R.C. Chapter 4117, such as a breach of
contract or enforcement, still falls solely within the jurisdiction of SERB if the
asserted claim arises from or is dependent on the collective bargaining rights
created by R.C. Chapter 4117.).
Since FOP/OLC’s complaint is well taken, a peremptory writ of
prohibition is granted and the Franklin County Common Pleas Court is hereby
ordered to dismiss the underlying action.
RESNICK, F.E. SWEENEY,COOK and STRATTON, JJ., concur.
MOYER, C.J., and PFEIFER, J., dissent and would grant only an alternative