153 F.3d 70 (2nd Cir. 1998), 97-7971, Seabrook v. Jacobson

Docket Nº:Docket No. 97-7971.
Citation:153 F.3d 70
Party Name:Norman SEABROOK, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Michael P. JACOBSON, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:August 21, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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153 F.3d 70 (2nd Cir. 1998)

Norman SEABROOK, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,


Michael P. JACOBSON, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Docket No. 97-7971.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

August 21, 1998

        Argued May 1, 1998.

        Richard A. Dienst, New York City (Leslie H. Ben-Zvi, Dienst & Serrins, LLP, of counsel), for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

        Ellen S. Ravitch, New York City (Jeffrey D. Friedlander, Acting Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, Stephen J. McGrath, Chlarens Orsland, of counsel), for Defendants-Appellees.

        Before OAKES, NEWMAN and LEVAL, Circuit Judges.

        OAKES, Senior Circuit Judge:

        Plaintiffs are the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association ("COBA") and eight individual correction officers (collectively, "the officers") whom defendants, the New York City Department of Correction, the City of New York, and various individuals (collectively, "the City") have suspended pending resolution of various criminal charges against the officers. The City suspended the officers pursuant to New York City Administrative Code section 9-112, which provides that correction officers may be suspended without pay indefinitely while criminal charges are pending. However, New York State Civil Service Law provides that a civil servant can be suspended without pay pending resolution of charges against him only for thirty days, N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law § 75(3) (McKinney Supp.1997-98), unless such provision is supplemented, modified, or replaced by an agreement between the public employer and a union, N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law § 76(4) (McKinney 1983). The Civil Service Law defines an "agreement" as "the result of the exchange of mutual promises between the chief executive officer of a public employer and an employee organization which becomes a binding

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contract." N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law § 201(12) (McKinney 1983).

        In this action, plaintiffs asserted federal claims against the City under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1994). They also asserted a state-law claim, arguing that New York City Administrative Code § 9-112 is invalid because it conflicts with the State's Civil Service Law. Prior to trial, the parties and the District Court agreed that if plaintiffs would voluntarily dismiss their federal claims, the District Court would retain supplemental jurisdiction and decide the state-law claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (1994). After a bench trial, the District Court concluded the City's provision allowing the suspensions was valid, as it fit within the exception provided by New York Civil Service Law section 76(4). In consideration of all the factors outlined below, especially that the federal claims that were the sole source of jurisdiction had been dismissed and that the remaining state law claim turned on a novel and complex issue involving the interpretation of state statutes concerning the administration of state government and the balancing of important state policies, we conclude that the District Court should have dismissed, rather than retained supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claim. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment below and remand with instructions to dismiss the state claim and allow plaintiffs to refile their federal claims if they choose to do so.

       I. FACTS

        The District Court found the facts as follows. In October 1974, COBA and the City were engaged in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement for 1974-76. The president of COBA apparently signed a letter dated October 25, 1974, in which he acknowledged that in the course of negotiations he and the City had agreed jointly to recommend to the City Council a provision that would allow the City to suspend correction officers indefinitely, without pay, pending final disposition of charges against them. In October 1975, COBA and the City signed the collective bargaining agreement they had been negotiating, but this written collective bargaining agreement did not include or reflect the...

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