586 P.2d 1346 (Idaho 1978), 12774, Local 1494 of Intern. Ass'n of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene

Docket Nº12774.
Citation586 P.2d 1346, 99 Idaho 630
Opinion JudgeBISTLINE, Justice. DONALDSON,
Party NameLOCAL 1494 OF the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, Petitioners- Respondents, Cross-Appellants, v. CITY OF COEUR d'ALENE, Idaho, Respondent-Appellant, Cross-Respondent.
AttorneyE. L. Miller, Wm. D. McFarland, Glen E. Walker, City Atty., Coeur d'Alene, for City of Coeur d'Alene. James M. English and Larry A. Wilde, Coeur d'Alene, for Local 1494.
Judge PanelMcFADDEN and BAKES, JJ., concur. SHEPARD, Chief Justice, dissenting. DONALDSON, Justice, dissenting.
Case DateSeptember 26, 1978
CourtSupreme Court of Idaho

Page 1346

586 P.2d 1346 (Idaho 1978)

99 Idaho 630

LOCAL 1494 OF the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, Petitioners- Respondents, Cross-Appellants,

v.

CITY OF COEUR d'ALENE, Idaho, Respondent-Appellant, Cross-Respondent.

No. 12774.

Supreme Court of Idaho.

September 26, 1978

Rehearing Denied Dec. 18, 1978.

Page 1347

[99 Idaho 631] E. L. Miller, Wm. D. McFarland, Glen E. Walker, City Atty., Coeur d'Alene, for City of Coeur d'Alene.

James M. English and Larry A. Wilde, Coeur d'Alene, for Local 1494.

BISTLINE, Justice.

This case involves a dispute between the City of Coeur d'Alene (the City) and Local 1494 of the International Association of Firefighters (the union or the firefighters), the collective bargaining agent for 17 firefighters who were terminated for their participation in a concerted action (a strike) against the City.

An existing collective bargaining contract between the City and the union expired on December 31, 1976, after which time the firefighters continued to work without a [99 Idaho 632]

Page 1348

contract. An impasse in negotiations was reached on January 5, 1977, and the remaining issues were submitted to a fact finding commission pursuant to I.C. § 44-1805 to 1810. Relations between the City and the firefighters deteriorated during the long delay awaiting release of the fact finders' report. The firefighters went out on strike on May 6, 1977, and all those joining in the strike were discharged within the next two days.

Thereafter, the firefighters applied to district court for a writ of mandamus to compel the City to reinstate them. The district court ruled on May 24, 1977, that the procedures followed by the City had violated the due process rights of the firefighters and ordered their reinstatement. The City repeated the discharge process, this time complying with the relevant statutory provisions of the Idaho Code and the Civil Service Rules of the City of Coeur d'Alene. The Civil Service Commission held a public hearing on June 7, 1977, and, on June 13, 1977, issued its decision finding that the strike was illegal and that the discharge of the firefighters was justified.

The firefighters appealed the commission's decision to district court pursuant to I.C. § 50-1609. The district court concluded that even though the strike by the firefighters was illegal under Idaho law, the order of the Civil Service Commission terminating the firefighters "was not based on substantial evidence, was arbitrary, an abuse of discretion, and was not made in good faith and for cause." The district court entered judgment requiring the City to reinstate the firefighters and resume good faith bargaining.

Both the City and the union appeal. Appellant City of Coeur d'Alene argues that in hearing the appeal from the Civil Service Commission, the district court "assumed and exercised De novo jurisdiction" in violation of what is alleged to be an express restriction contained in I.C. § 50-1609. Analytically, this argument can be focused more precisely by directing attention to three separate aspects of the appeal in district court: (1) the manner in which the appeal was heard; (2) the standard of review exercised by the district court; (3) the district court's entry of judgment reversing the commission order, mandating reinstatement of the firefighters and ordering further good faith negotiations.

  1. The Appeals Hearing.

    In relevant part, I.C. § 50-1609 provides that when an appeal is taken from an order or judgment of the Civil Service Commission,

    The court of original and unlimited jurisdiction in civil suits shall thereupon proceed to hear and determine such appeal in a summary manner; . . .

    That all parties to this action understood and fully complied with this provision at the appeals hearing is beyond dispute. In advance of the appeal to district court, attorneys for the City and the firefighters entered into a stipulation which states:

    that the hearing shall not be a trial de novo, but shall be in the nature of reviewing the decision of the Coeur d'Alene Civil Service Commission in light of the legal arguments presented on appellant's appeal.

    IT IS FURTHER STIPULATED that the Civil Service Commission Hearing transcript and all exhibits presented in the Civil Service Commission hearing shall be reviewable by the District Judge in making a determination.

    That the district court hearing held on June 27, 1977, was in keeping with the above stipulation is manifest from the court minutes which begin as follows:

    Court in session. It is explained from the bench today's hearing is not a new trial, there will be no testimony, this is just a review.

    The trial court heard oral argument of counsel, which consumed 30 minutes, following which the district court, within the confines of his chambers, made his review of the appeal record over a period of time extending from June 27, 1977, to August 25, 1977. It is clear, then, that the district court proceeded in the "summary" manner required by I.C. § 50-1609, and the procedure was that which the parties envisioned as required by said section and their stipulation.

    [99 Idaho 633]

    Page 1349

  2. The Scope of Review in District Court.

    Appellant City next assigns as error what it alleges was the district court's improper procedure in entering its own findings of fact and conclusions of law. After the district court entered its appellant judgment, the City moved to strike the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law on the grounds that they were in violation of I.R.C.P. 52(a). That rule requires that a district court make findings of fact and conclusions of law in certain situations; it does not prevent the court from doing so in others. Despite the weakness of the City's theoretical underpinnings, its assignment of error on this point is not frivolous. It voices a very genuine concern regarding the appropriate scope of review which a district court must exercise in hearing appeals from a civil service commission.

    The governing statute provides little guidance. I.C. § 50-1609 states only that

    If such judgment or order be upheld by a majority of the commission, the accused may appeal therefrom to the court of original and unlimited jurisdiction in civil suits of the county wherein he resides. The court of original and unlimited jurisdiction in civil suits shall thereupon proceed to hear and determine such appeal in a summary manner; provided, however, that such hearing shall be confined to the determination as to whether the judgment or order of removal, discharge, demotion or suspension by the commission, was made in good faith and for cause, and no appeal to such court shall be taken except upon such ground or grounds.

    The statute thus requires the district court "to hear and determine such appeal in a summary manner" and restricts court review to two particular issues. 1 It is, however, silent as to which standard of review the court is to employ or what disposition it may order.

    We turn for guidance to the general principle of administrative law which holds that a court's proper function in reviewing agency actions is to consider

    whether, as a matter of law, the tribunal acted fraudulently, arbitrarily or capriciously, whether the administrative order is substantially supported by evidence, and whether the tribunal's action was within the scope of its authority.

    Kansas State Bd. of Healing Arts v. Foote, 200 Kan. 447, 436 P.2d 828, 831 (1968). Controversy usually centers around the definition of what evidence is "substantial" enough to support the commission decision. The "substantial evidence rule" is said to be a "middle position" which precludes a De novo hearing but which nonetheless requires a serious review which goes beyond the mere ascertainment of procedural regularity.

    Nonetheless, in the case most strongly relied upon by appellant City, a majority of the Supreme Court of the neighboring state of Washington in 1966 showed itself satisfied with the "scintilla of evidence" rule, five members of the nine-member court saying,

    We conclude that neither the superior court nor this court can consider the weight or sufficiency of the evidence.

    State ex rel. Perry V. City of Seattle, 69 Wash.2d 816, 420 P.2d 704, 706 (1966). For that standard the Washington court reached back to 1937 and its earlier opinion in State ex rel. Littau v. City of Seattle, 189 Wash. 64, 63 P.2d 515 (1937), from which it quoted and wherein the court had stated that it could not inquire into the weight or sufficiency of the evidence where "competent evidence has been produced Tending, in some measure at least, to prove the charges made . . . ." Id. 420 P.2d at 707 (emphasis added).

    A strong dissent authored by the Chief Justice assailed the majority opinion in Perry as not being in keeping with the times, the dissent relying upon and quoting from Justice Frankfurter in Universal Camera Corp. v. Natn'l Labor Rel. Bd., 340 U.S. 474, 71 S.Ct. 456, 95 L.Ed. 456 (1951), for the proposition that the "scintilla" or "any" evidence[99 Idaho 634]

    Page 1350

    rule was not commensurate with the judicial function and duty to review the entire record to ascertain if the evidence in that "record as a whole" is found to be substantial. State ex rel. Perry v. City of Seattle, supra, 420 P.2d at 711 (Rosellini, C. J., dissenting).

    Justice Frankfurter conducted a painstaking review of the history and analysis as to how courts had been functioning, and how henceforth they should function in making appellate reviews of agency decisions. He did so in 1951, some 14 years after the Washington court's opinion in Littau, during which period of time the administrative field had expanded manifold. We find ourselves unpersuaded by the Washington decision in Perry, which continued to uphold the "scintilla" rule of Littau almost 30 years later, and we expressly reject that narrow doctrine.

    In so doing we are impressed by the legislative...

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62 practice notes
  • 602 P.2d 947 (Idaho 1979), 12830, Luskin v. Department of Employment
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 13 Noviembre 1979
    ...Group v. Royal Globe Insurance Co., 100 Idaho 123, 594 P.2d 633 (1979); Local 1494, Int'l Ass'n of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho 630, 586 P.2d 1346 (1978); Clark v. Int'l Harvester Co., 99 Idaho 326, 581 P.2d 784 (1978); Dunn v. Baugh, 95 Idaho 236, 506 P.2d 463 (1973). Th......
  • 817 P.2d 1069 (Idaho 1991), 17342, Lang v. Ustick Dental Office, P.A.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 9 Septiembre 1991
    ...v. Hunnicutt, 110 Idaho 257, 715 P.2d 927 (1986): In Local 1494 of the International Association of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho 630, 586 P.2d 1346 (1978), this Court discussed the test for determining substantial evidence for the purposes of judicial review of an adminis......
  • 870 P.2d 1292 (Idaho 1994), 20206, Davaz v. Priest River Glass Co., Inc.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 2 Febrero 1994
    ...P.2d at 31; see also, Local 1494 of Int'l. Ass'n. of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho Page 1296 [125 Idaho 337] 630, 639, 586 P.2d 1346, 1353 (1978) (citation omitted). More specifically, we must liberally construe the provisions of the workers' compensation law in favor of t......
  • 991 P.2d 857 (Idaho App. 1999), 24785, Rule Sales and Service, Inc. v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass'n
    • United States
    • Idaho Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • 2 Noviembre 1999
    ...of a statute begins with an examination of its literal words. Local 1494 Int'l Ass'n of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho 630, 639, 586 P.2d 1346, 1355 (1978); Davis v. Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare, 130 Idaho 469, 470, 943 P.2d 59, 60 (Ct.App.1997). Where a statute is pla......
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58 cases
  • 602 P.2d 947 (Idaho 1979), 12830, Luskin v. Department of Employment
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 13 Noviembre 1979
    ...Group v. Royal Globe Insurance Co., 100 Idaho 123, 594 P.2d 633 (1979); Local 1494, Int'l Ass'n of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho 630, 586 P.2d 1346 (1978); Clark v. Int'l Harvester Co., 99 Idaho 326, 581 P.2d 784 (1978); Dunn v. Baugh, 95 Idaho 236, 506 P.2d 463 (1973). Th......
  • 817 P.2d 1069 (Idaho 1991), 17342, Lang v. Ustick Dental Office, P.A.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 9 Septiembre 1991
    ...v. Hunnicutt, 110 Idaho 257, 715 P.2d 927 (1986): In Local 1494 of the International Association of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho 630, 586 P.2d 1346 (1978), this Court discussed the test for determining substantial evidence for the purposes of judicial review of an adminis......
  • 870 P.2d 1292 (Idaho 1994), 20206, Davaz v. Priest River Glass Co., Inc.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 2 Febrero 1994
    ...P.2d at 31; see also, Local 1494 of Int'l. Ass'n. of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho Page 1296 [125 Idaho 337] 630, 639, 586 P.2d 1346, 1353 (1978) (citation omitted). More specifically, we must liberally construe the provisions of the workers' compensation law in favor of t......
  • 991 P.2d 857 (Idaho App. 1999), 24785, Rule Sales and Service, Inc. v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass'n
    • United States
    • Idaho Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • 2 Noviembre 1999
    ...of a statute begins with an examination of its literal words. Local 1494 Int'l Ass'n of Firefighters v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 99 Idaho 630, 639, 586 P.2d 1346, 1355 (1978); Davis v. Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare, 130 Idaho 469, 470, 943 P.2d 59, 60 (Ct.App.1997). Where a statute is pla......
  • Free signup to view additional results