Barth v. City of Cranston, 21-1632

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtHOWARD, Circuit Judge.
PartiesBRANDON BARTH; MARK CAMPOPIANO; DAVID JUBINVILLE; JUSTIN RUTKIEWICZ; RYAN SHORE, Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. CITY OF CRANSTON, by and through its Treasurer David A. Capuano; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF POLICE OFFICERS, LOCAL 301; MATTHEW J. JOSEFSON, Defendants, Appellees.
Docket Number21-1632
Decision Date11 August 2022

BRANDON BARTH; MARK CAMPOPIANO; DAVID JUBINVILLE; JUSTIN RUTKIEWICZ; RYAN SHORE, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.

CITY OF CRANSTON, by and through its Treasurer David A. Capuano; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF POLICE OFFICERS, LOCAL 301; MATTHEW J. JOSEFSON, Defendants, Appellees.

No. 21-1632

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

August 11, 2022


APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND [Hon. John J. McConnell, Jr., U.S. District Judge]

Edward C. Roy, Jr. for appellants. Vicki J. Bejma, with whom Robinson &Clapham were on brief, for appellee City of Cranston.

Carly Beauvais Iafrate, with whom Law Office of Carly Beauvais Iafrate, PC was on brief for appellees International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 301 and Matthew J. Josefson.

Before Barron, Chief Judge, Selya and Howard, Circuit Judges.

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HOWARD, Circuit Judge.

Brandon Barth, Mark Campopiano, David Jubinville, Justin Rutkiewicz, and Ryan Shore (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), sergeants in the City of Cranston Police Department, appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Cranston (the "City"), the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 301 (the "Union"), and Matthew J. Josefson. Plaintiffs argue that the district court erred in ruling against their hybrid breach of contract and fair representation claim against the City and the Union, their Takings Clause claim against the City, and their claim for declaratory relief against the City at summary judgment. We affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment.

I.

We briefly set forth the relevant facts; a fuller rendition can be found in the district court's opinion. See Barth v. City of Cranston ex rel. Capuano, 552 F.Supp.3d 235 (D.R.I. 2021).

This dispute stems from an incident in 2013, when City of Cranston Police Sergeant Josefson accepted a demotion in order to avoid facing disciplinary charges following an internal affairs investigation. In 2016, Josefson sued the City in Rhode Island federal district court, alleging civil rights violations relating to the demotion. In July 2016, Josefson and the City reached a settlement agreement (the "Settlement Agreement"), without the

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participation of the Union, which involved the entry of a Consent Judgment and the reinstatement of Josefson to the rank of sergeant.

When Josefson was restored to the rank of sergeant, the police department employed twenty sergeants, though its collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") limited the number of sergeants to nineteen. The City decided to continue employing them all and to allow one position to go away through attrition.

Plaintiffs in this case were promoted to the rank of sergeant during the three-year period between Josefson's demotion and reinstatement, and Josefson's reinstatement moved them all down one position in sergeant rank seniority. Seniority rights impact the Plaintiffs' overtime, compensatory time, acting out of rank time, vacation picks, and attendance at trainings and schools. Plaintiffs pushed the Union to file a grievance on their behalf to have their seniority restored ahead of Josefson's. The Union refused to do so because it concluded, based on legal advice, that an arbitrator lacked the power to undo the Consent Judgment and reorder the sergeants' seniority. Plaintiffs then appealed to their national union, which denied the appeal.

The Union did, however, bring its own grievance, pressing the City to retain the twentieth sergeant position permanently. Following arbitration, the arbitrator found that the City had violated the CBA in "[r]eaching an agreement with a private attorney, without involving the Union" in the Josefson

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matter. The arbitrator ordered the City to, inter alia, "bargain over the impact of the Consent Judgment to the extent that the subjects raised by the Union are mandatory subjects of bargaining." The City filed a petition in state court to vacate the award, which was denied in December 2019.

In the meantime, Plaintiffs brought suit in Rhode Island state court in December 2017. Upon the addition of a Takings Clause claim, the defendants removed the case to Rhode Island federal district court in March 2020. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441. In their Fourth Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs made the following claims: (1) Count One, seeking declaratory relief under Rhode Island's Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, R.I. Gen. Laws § 930-1 to -16, against the City, (2) Count Two, breach of contract, against the City, (3) Count Three, breach of the duty of fair representation, against the Union, and (4) Count Four, violation of the Takings Clause, U.S. Const. amend. V, and the Rhode Island constitution, R.I. Const. art. I, § 16, against the City.

In July 2021, the district court heard argument on motions for summary judgment filed by the defendants. On August 2, 2021, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts. See Barth, 552 F.Supp.3d at 237. The district court considered the breach of contract claim against the City and the breach of duty of fair representation claim against the Union together, as a hybrid claim, meaning that if

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Plaintiffs could not prove one of the claims, both would fail. It held that Plaintiffs had not made the minimal showing necessary to warrant a jury trial that the Union had acted in bad faith, discriminatorily, or otherwise arbitrarily. Because the fair representation claim failed, so too did the breach of contract claim and the request for declaratory judgment. Id. at 239-40. As to the Takings Clause claim, the district court found that it failed because there was no evidence that the Plaintiffs' seniority rights were taken for the public use, and because a mere expectation of seniority rights was not property. Id. at 240.

Plaintiffs timely appealed the grant of summary judgment.

II.

Our review of a grant of summary judgment is de novo, and the record is examined in the light most favorable to the non moving parties. See Hardy v. Loon Mountain Recreation Corp., 276 F.3d 18, 20 (1st Cir. 2002). "Summary judgment is appropriate if the record shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id.; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).

1. Hybrid Fair Representation and Breach of Contract Claim

Plaintiffs' joint cause of action against the City for breach of contract and the Union for breach of the duty of fair representation is commonly referred to as a "hybrid" claim. Miller v. U.S. Postal Serv.,

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985 F.2d 9, 10 (1st Cir. 1993); MacQuattie v. Malafronte, 779 A.2d 633, 636 &n.3 (R.I. 2001) (noting that "Rhode Island's labor relations laws parallel federal statutes" and citing to federal case law concerning hybrid claims). The two claims are "inextricably linked," meaning that if Plaintiffs fail to prove one of them, the other must also fail. Miller, 985 F.2d at 11 (quoting Demars v. Gen. Dynamics Corp., 779 F.2d 95, 97 (1st Cir. 1985)). We conclude that the district court properly granted summary judgment with respect to the fair representation claim, so we do not consider the breach of contract claim.

"[A]s the exclusive bargaining representative," the Union has a statutory duty "to serve the interests of all members without hostility or discrimination toward any, to exercise its discretion with complete good faith and...

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