Jenkins v. S. Bend Cmty. Sch. Corp.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana
Citation982 N.E.2d 343
Docket NumberNo. 71A03–1206–PL–260.,71A03–1206–PL–260.
PartiesLula L. JENKINS, et al., Appellants–Plaintiffs, v. SOUTH BEND COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, Appellee–Defendant.
Decision Date26 March 2013

982 N.E.2d 343

Lula L. JENKINS, et al., Appellants–Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTH BEND COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, Appellee–Defendant.

No. 71A03–1206–PL–260.

Court of Appeals of Indiana.

Jan. 22, 2013.
Rehearing Denied March 26, 2013.


[982 N.E.2d 344]


William R. Groth, Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe, LLP, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellants.

D. Lucetta Pope, Jennifer Bickley Hull, Amy M. Steketee, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, South Bend, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.


OPINION

KIRSCH, Judge.

Lula L. Jenkins (“Jenkins”), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 62, and AFL–CIO Local 686 (collectively “the Union”) appeal from the trial court's order entering summary judgment in favor of South Bend Community School Corporation (“SBCSC”) in Jenkins and the Union's action seeking an independent determination of whether Jenkins was discharged for just cause from her position with SBCSC. On appeal, we are asked to decide if the trial court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of SBCSC instead of making an independent determination of whether Jenkins was discharged for just cause.

We reverse and remand.

[982 N.E.2d 345]

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 9, 2008, SBCSC discharged Jenkins from her employment as a school bus driver for SBCSC after it was determined that she allowed a child to ride her school bus past the child's destination and into SBCSC's maintenance facility. SBCSC cited the violation of two work rules when discharging Jenkins: rule number 10 (insubordination or refusal to carry out orders) and rule number 13 (failure to meet reasonable work standards). Appellants' App. at 21.

SBCSC is a public school corporation which employs school bus drivers such as Jenkins, operates a vehicle maintenance facility, and among other things, provides transportation of students to and from school. SBCSC voluntarily recognized and negotiated a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) with the Union, which represented SBCSC employee bus drivers including Jenkins. The CBA provides that SBCSC shall discipline or discharge employees only for just cause, and the items setting forth what can constitute just cause, including those in the rules mentioned above, are enumerated in a non-exhaustive list. Id. at 20–21. Article 4 of the CBA sets forth the four-step grievance procedure and defines a grievance as “any controversy arising out of or over the interpretation, application, or claim of alleged violations of the provisions” of the CBA. Id. at 15. Article 4 further provides that “[t]he grievance and arbitration provisions of this article are an exclusive remedy. With respect to every arbitration, the decision of the arbitrator shall be advisory to the Superintendent and not binding on either party.” Id. at 16–17.

Following Jenkins's termination by SBCSC, Jenkins and the Union filed a grievance protesting her discharge. In particular, they argued that her termination was not for just cause under the CBA. The grievance proceeded through the arbitration process. On June 11, 2009, the neutral arbitrator held a hearing on the grievance and after that hearing and briefing by the parties determined that just cause did not exist to support Jenkins's discharge. The arbitrator issued an order that SBCSC reinstate Jenkins with full back pay, benefits, and seniority. SBCSC refused to comply with the arbitrator's order to reinstate Jenkins's employment, relying instead on the provision of the CBA that the arbitrator's order was merely advisory to the SBCSC Superintendent. When SBCSC refused to reinstate her employment, Jenkins and the Union filed a complaint seeking a de novo judicial review of whether SBCSC violated the CBA by terminating her employment without just cause.

The trial court denied SBCSC's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. However, on May 10, 2012, the trial court granted SBCSC's motion for summary judgment without conducting a de novo review of whether SBCSC violated the CBA by terminating Jenkins's employment without just cause. Instead, the trial court concluded that the SBCSC Superintendent was not contractually compelled to follow the advisory opinion of the arbitrator, and that SBCSC was within its contractual rights in terminating Jenkins's employment. Jenkins and the Union now appeal from this order granting summary judgment in favor of SBCSC.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

According to the directives of Rule 56(C) of the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. On review of a trial court's grant or denial of

[982 N.E.2d 346]

summary judgment, this court applies the same standard as the trial court. Best Homes, Inc. v. Rainwater, 714 N.E.2d 702, 705 (Ind.Ct.App.1999). We must make the determination whether there is a genuine issue of material fact requiring trial, and whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. Just as the trial court could not look beyond the evidence specifically designated to the trial court, our review is likewise so limited. Id.; see also Ind. Trial Rule 56(C), (H).

The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of making a prima facie showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Am. Mgmt., Inc. v. MIF Realty L.P., 666 N.E.2d 424, 428 (Ind.Ct.App.1996). Once the movant...

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17 practice notes
  • Matthews v. Chi. Transit Auth., No. 117638
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • May 5, 2016
    ...this principle in deciding the applicability of an arbitration clause in a CBA); Jenkins v. South Bend Community School Corp., 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind.Ct.App.2013) (same); Poole, 831 A.2d at 220, 223 (acknowledging this principle in deciding whether retiree health care benefits were vested......
  • B&R Oil Co. v. Stoler, Court of Appeals Case No. 71A04-1603-PL-608
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • May 30, 2017
    ...the interpretation of a contract presents a question of law, it is reviewed de novo by this court. Jenkins v. S. Bend Cmty. Sch. Corp. , 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied . [11] We review the contract as a whole, attempting to ascertain the parties' intent and making e......
  • Ebert v. Ill. Cas. Co., 21A-PL-69
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • August 30, 2021
    ...of a contract presents a question of law, it is reviewed de novo by this court." Id. (citing Jenkins v. S. Bend Cmty. Sch. Corp., 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013), trans. denied.). [¶15] "'The goal of contract interpretation is to determine the intent of the parties when they made the......
  • Ebert v. Ill. Cas. Co., Court of Appeals Case No. 21A-PL-69
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • August 30, 2021
    ...presents a question of law, it is reviewed de novo by this court." Id. (citing [177 N.E.3d 444 Jenkins v. S. Bend Cmty. Sch. Corp. , 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied. ). [15] " ‘The goal of contract interpretation is to determine the intent of the parties when they ma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Matthews v. Chi. Transit Auth., 117638
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • May 5, 2016
    ...this principle in deciding the applicability of an arbitration clause in a CBA); Jenkins v. South Bend Community School Corp., 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind.Ct.App.2013) (same); Poole, 831 A.2d at 220, 223 (acknowledging this principle in deciding whether retiree health care benefits were vested......
  • B&R Oil Co. v. Stoler, Court of Appeals Case No. 71A04-1603-PL-608
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • May 30, 2017
    ...the interpretation of a contract presents a question of law, it is reviewed de novo by this court. Jenkins v. S. Bend Cmty. Sch. Corp. , 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied . [11] We review the contract as a whole, attempting to ascertain the parties' intent and making e......
  • Ebert v. Ill. Cas. Co., Court of Appeals Case No. 21A-PL-69
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • August 30, 2021
    ...presents a question of law, it is reviewed de novo by this court." Id. (citing [177 N.E.3d 444 Jenkins v. S. Bend Cmty. Sch. Corp. , 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied. ). [15] " ‘The goal of contract interpretation is to determine the intent of the parties when they ma......
  • Ebert v. Ill. Cas. Co., 21A-PL-69
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • August 30, 2021
    ...of a contract presents a question of law, it is reviewed de novo by this court." Id. (citing Jenkins v. S. Bend Cmty. Sch. Corp., 982 N.E.2d 343, 347 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013), trans. denied.). [¶15] "'The goal of contract interpretation is to determine the intent of the parties when they made the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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