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State v. Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers

Superior Court of Rhode Island

July 5, 2018

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
v.
RHODE ISLAND BROTHERHOOD OF CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS

          Superior Court Providence County

          For Plaintiff: Michael B. Grant, Esq.

          For Defendant: Gerard B. Cobleigh, Esq.; Carly B. Iafrate, Esq.

          DECISION

          McGUIRL, J.

         This case is before the Court on the State of Rhode Island Department of Corrections' (DOC) Motion to Vacate the October 27, 2011 Arbitration Award (the Award). The Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers (RIBCO) simultaneously moves to confirm. The Award sustained a grievance by RIBCO on the grounds that the DOC violated the just cause provision of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (the CBA) when it terminated the employment of a correctional officer, Anthony Marshall. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 28-9-18.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         Prior to March 9, 2011, Mr. Marshall served twenty years as a correctional officer at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) (Award 12). On April 23, 2010, East Providence police officers arrested and criminally charged Mr. Marshall with domestic simple assault and battery (the East Providence charge) following an altercation with his estranged wife that occurred on January 31, 2010. Id. at 7. After his arrest and having agreed to conditions for Mr. Marshall's release on bail, the court released Mr. Marshall on his own recognizance. Id.

         Thereafter, on September 14, 2010, West Warwick police officers arrested Mr. Marshall and charged him with domestic simple assault and battery and domestic disorderly conduct (the West Warwick charges) following a separate incident involving his girlfriend. Id. at 7. As a result of the West Warwick charges, Mr. Marshall was presented as a bail violator on the East Providence charge. Id. On September 28, 2010, the East Greenwich police arrested Mr. Marshall based on a complaint made by his girlfriend for a third domestic altercation that occurred on August 24, 2010 (the East Greenwich charge).[1] Id. That same day, Mr. Marshall appeared in Superior Court and admitted to violating the conditions of bail with respect to the East Providence charge. Mr. Marshall also pled guilty to the West Warwick charge of domestic disorderly conduct. In light of Mr. Marshall's admissions, the District Court modified his bail on the East Providence charge from personal recognizance to $5000 bail with surety. However, Mr. Marshall was ultimately remanded to the ACI pending a bail violation hearing when the East Greenwich charge was filed.

         On October 14, 2010, after spending sixteen days in the ACI, Mr. Marshall returned to court for his bail violation hearing on the East Providence charge. Id. at 7-8. Mr. Marshall admitted to violating the conditions of his bail and the hearing judge sentenced him to serve thirty days at the ACI, retroactive to the day he was taken into custody, September 28, 2010. Id. at 8. Mr. Marshall spent the duration of his sentence in isolation at the ACI's Intake Center as a preventative measure taken to reduce his exposure to the general population. Id.at 8. He was subsequently released on October 28, 2010, after serving the thirty day sentence. Id.

         On December 1, 2010, Mr. Marshall was found not guilty of the West Warwick domestic assault charge but guilty of the domestic disorderly conduct charge. [2] Id. He was later found not guilty of both the East Providence charge and the East Greenwich charge. Id. at 8. Shortly after Mr. Marshall resolved his criminal matters, the DOC terminated him from his position as a correctional officer, effective March 9, 2011. Id. at 6. RIBCO then filed a grievance against the DOC on Mr. Marshall's behalf, which led the parties to arbitration. Id.

         After a hearing on August 24, 2011, the Arbitrator found that the DOC did not have just cause to terminate Mr. Marshall's employment based on the terms of the CBA. Id. at 6, 9. Ultimately, the Arbitrator concluded that Mr. Marshall should be "reinstated . . . and made whole for any losses of compensation or benefits." Id. at 19. The DOC subsequently filed the present Motion to Vacate the Arbitration Award. In response, RIBCO moved to confirm the Award.

         II

         Standard of Review

         It is well settled that "the authority of the judiciary to 'review . . . the merits of an arbitration award is extremely limited.'" Town of N. Providence v. Local 2334 Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, 763 A.2d 604, 605 (R.I. 2000) (quoting State Dep't of Mental Health, Retardation, and Hospitals v. R.I. Council 94, 692 A.2d 318, 322 (R.I. 1997)). Nonetheless,

"[u]nder § 28-9-18(a), an arbitration award must be vacated if (1) it was procured by fraud; (2) the arbitrator exceeded his or her powers or failed to make a mutual, final, and definite award upon the subject matter submitted; or (3) there was no valid submission or contract and the objection has been raised under certain conditions." State, Dep't of Corr. v. R.I. Bhd. of Corr. Officers, 64 A.3d 734, 739 (R.I. 2013).

         Moreover, "[a]n arbitrator exceeds his or her powers 'by resolving a non-arbitrable dispute or if the award fails to 'draw its essence' form the agreement, if it was not based upon a 'passably plausible' interpretation thereof, if it manifestly disregarded a contractual provision, or if it reached an irrational result.'" City of E. Providence v. United Steelworkers of Am., Local 15509, 925 A.2d 246, 252 (R.I. 2007) (quoting Woonsocket Teachers' Guild, Local 951, AFT v. Woonsocket Sch. Comm., 770 A.2d 834, 837 (R.I. 2001)).

         III

...


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