Plaintiff: Marc B. Gursky, Esq.
Defendant: Joseph F. Penza, Jr., Esq. Robert J. Cosentino,
Teamsters Local 251 (Local 251) challenges a decision by the
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT or
Department), after remand, finding Local 251 liable for
unpaid vacation time, statutory interest and penalty, and
attorneys' fees to Steven M. Labrie (Mr. Labrie).
Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 §§ 25-3-5 and
Facts and Travel
Court originally issued a decision on January 12, 2017
(hereinafter Superior Court Decision of January 12, 2017) on
Mr. Labrie's administrative appeal of a DLT decision
(hereinafter First Decision) in which DLT found Local 251
liable for unpaid vacation time for only the year of 2013,
and not for the accumulation of time for the years 2008
through 2012 which Mr. Labrie had originally sought.
detailed recitation of the facts of this case can be found in
Labrie v. State of Rhode Island Department of Labor and
Training and Teamsters Local 251, No. PC-2015-5344, 2017
WL 235042 (R.I. Super. Jan. 12, 2017). This Court will
discuss only those pertinent factual developments since its
Superior Court Decision of January 12, 2017, this Court
reversed the portion of the First Decision denying Mr. Labrie
payment for unused vacation time for the years 2008 through
2012. Labrie, 2017 WL 235042, at *12. The
Court further held that Mr. Labrie ought to have prevailed on
all of his claims before the DLT, and the request for
attorneys' fees was not unreasonable. Id. at 13.
The Court granted Mr. Labrie attorneys' fees in the
amount of $19, 773.50. Id. The matter was remanded
to the DLT to (i) calculate the balance of vacation pay owed
to Mr. Labrie consistent with the Superior Court Decision of
January 12, 2017; (ii) to calculate interest, if any, with
respect to the balance of said vacation pay; and (iii) for
the Hearing Officer to determine if additional attorneys'
fees may be awarded pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 28-14-19(c)
in connection with Mr. Labrie's successful appeal under
the Administrative Procedures Act. This Court retained
jurisdiction in the matter.
to the remand, the parties filed position statements with DLT
and a hearing with counsel for Local 251 and Mr. Labrie took
place on September 13, 2017. On January 8, 2019 Hearing
Officer Barricelli (hereinafter Hearing Officer) issued his
Amended Decision (hereinafter Second Decision) in which he
found Local 251 liable to pay Mr. Labrie $56, 540.53 for the
balance of his 122.5 accrued vacation days, plus interest at
the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum from the date of
nonpayment (January 1, 2014). (Second Decision at 2, 4.) As
of January 8, 2019, the date of the Second Decision, the
interest had accumulated to $36, 028.74. Id. at 5.
The Second Decision also ordered Local 251 to pay Mr. Labrie
and the DLT a civil penalty in the amount of $2500, with
$1250 allocated to each party. Id. at 6. Finally, the
Second Decision awarded reasonable attorneys' fees to Mr.
Labrie and directed counsel to submit an appropriate
accounting to the Department for consideration. Id.
February 19, 2019, the Hearing Officer issued a Decision
Addendum Regarding Attorneys' Fees (hereinafter Decision
Addendum), wherein he confirmed the total award of
attorneys' fees to be $39, 089.55. (Decision Addendum 3.)
Local 251 then filed a timely appeal to this Court
challenging both the Second Decision and the Decision
Addendum as clearly erroneous in view of the reliable,
probative, and substantial evidence on the record, and as
arbitrary and capricious.
Standard of Review
review of a decision of a state agency by this Court is
governed by the Administrative Procedures Act. Section
42-35-15(g) provides that:
"The court shall not substitute its judgment for that of
the agency as to the weight of the evidence on questions of
fact. The court may affirm the decision of the agency or
remand the case for further proceedings, or it may reverse or
modify the decision if substantial rights of the appellant
have been prejudiced because the administrative findings,
inferences, conclusions, or decisions are:
"(1) In violation of constitutional or statutory
"(2) In excess of the statutory authority of the agency;
"(3) Made upon unlawful procedure;
"(4) Affected by other error of law;
"(5) Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable,
probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record; or
"(6) Arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse
of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of
section precludes a reviewing court from substituting its
judgment for that of the agency in regard to the credibility
of witnesses or the weight of the evidence concerning
questions of fact. Costa v. Registrar of Motor
Vehicles, 543 A.2d 1307, 1309 (R.I. 1988). The
court's review is limited to determining whether
substantial evidence exists to support the agency's
decision. Newport Shipyard Inc. v. R.I. Commission for
Human Rights, 484 A.2d 893, 897 (R.I. 1984). If
'"competent evidence exists in the record, the
Superior Court is required to uphold the agency's
conclusions."' Auto Body Association of R.I. v.
State Department of ...