Reed v. United Teachers L.A., No. B230817.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtASHMANN–GERST
Citation12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 9196,282 Ed. Law Rep. 1144,208 Cal.App.4th 322,145 Cal.Rptr.3d 454,2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 11161
PartiesSharail REED et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. UNITED TEACHERS LOS ANGELES, Defendant and Appellant; Los Angeles Unified School District et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Decision Date10 August 2012
Docket NumberNo. B230817.

208 Cal.App.4th 322
145 Cal.Rptr.3d 454
282 Ed.
Law Rep. 1144
12 Cal.
Daily Op. Serv. 9196
2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 11,161

Sharail REED et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents,
UNITED TEACHERS LOS ANGELES, Defendant and Appellant;
Los Angeles Unified School District et al., Defendants and Respondents.

No. B230817.

Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 2, California.

Aug. 10, 2012.

See 7 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Judgment, § 468.

Validity Called into Doubt

Cal.Rules of Court, Rule 3.769

[145 Cal.Rptr.3d 456]

Holguin, Garfield, Martinez & Quiñonez, Jesús E. Qui~nonez; Altshuler Berzon, Stephen P. Berzon, Jeffrey B. Demain, Eileen B. Goldsmith, Danielle E. Leonard, and P. Casey Pitts, San Francisco, for Defendant and Appellant.

California Department of Education, Amy Bisson Holloway and Edmundo Aguilar, Long Beach, for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson as Amici Curiae on behalf of Appellant.

Morrison & Foerster, Miriam A. Vogel, Jack Londen, Sean Gates, Hailly T.N. Korman; ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Mark D. Rosenbaum, Los Angeles, David Sapp, Brooks M. Allen; Public Counsel Law Center, Catherine E. Lhamon, Los Angeles, Maureen Carroll, Philadelphia, Laura Faer, Pasadena, and Hernan Vera, for Plaintiffs and Respondents.

David R. Holmquist, Beverly Hills, Alexander A. Molina, Marcos F. Hernandez, Aram Kouyoumdjian, Sacramento; Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, Mary L. Dowell and Meredith G. Karasch, Los Angeles, for Defendant and Respondent Los Angeles Unified School District.

Kirkland & Ellis, Diana M. Torres, Los Angeles, and Elisa L. Miller, New York, for Defendant and Respondent Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

Horvitz & Levy, Robert H. Wright, Jeremy B. Rosen, Encino, and

[145 Cal.Rptr.3d 457]

Josephine K. Mason for Senator Bob Huff, Senator Gloria Romero (Ret.), Democrats for Education Reform, Communities for Teaching Excellence, Families in Schools, Lanai Road Education Action Committee, Reverend Eric P. Lee, Southern Christian Leadership Conference—Los Angeles, Rabbi Ron Stern, Members of the Public Education Advocacy Group of Stephen S. Wise Temple, Adam Kuppersmith, Karen Sykes–Orpe, Matthew J. Orique, and Lindi Williams as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondents.

Peter B. Morrison, George C. Fatheree III and Winston P. Hsiao, Los Angeles, for Certain Individual Members of United Teachers Los Angeles as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Respondents.


[208 Cal.App.4th 327]United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) appeals a judgment entered upon a consent decree after the trial court conducted a fairness hearing and gave the consent decree final approval.1 The consent decree was reached between the Los Angeles School District (District), the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (Partnership) and students (Students) from three of the District's schools (Three Schools) 2 to resolve claims that teacher lay-offs had disproportionately and adversely impacted the Students' constitutional and statutory rights to equal educational opportunities, and that additional lay-offs would exacerbate the harm. According to UTLA, the consent decree potentially abrogates the seniority rights of its members and it is entitled to a decision on the merits of the Students' claims as a matter of federal due process. In the alternative, it contends that the trial court lacked the authority under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6 to enter the judgment. We agree on both counts. The judgment is reversed and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.


The Education Code and the collective bargaining agreement between the District and its teachers generally require that when the District reduces its teaching force for budgetary reasons, lay-offs must be based on seniority. 3 In the summer of 2009, the District faced a budget shortfall and implemented a reduction in force (RIF) and laid-off temporary and probationary teachers. Because the Three Schools employed a high number of new teachers, the 2009 RIF caused the Three Schools to lose up to two-thirds of their teachers. Other schools in the District did not suffer the same fate. For the 2009–2010 school year, vacancies at the Three Schools were filled with substitute teachers. In the spring of 2010, the District again faced a budget shortfall. It proposed a second RIF that would include permanent as well as probationary teachers.

The Students sued the District and the State of California on the theory, inter alia,

[145 Cal.Rptr.3d 458]

that RIFs deny them the constitutional right to equal educational [208 Cal.App.4th 328]opportunities.4 UTLA and the Partnership were joined as indispensable parties and named as defendants. To prevent further lay-offs at the Three Schools, the Students requested a preliminary injunction. After hearing evidence, the trial court found that “[h]igh teacher turnover devastates educational opportunity” and that RIFs have a “real and appreciable impact on [the Students'] fundamental right to equal educational opportunity.” The District was preliminarily enjoined from laying off teachers at the Three Schools.

The Students, the District and the Partnership (settling parties) negotiated a consent decree entitled “Intervention Program For Targeted Schools” (consent decree). It contained the following salient terms: (1) targeted schools are defined as (a) 25 schools to be identified by the District using various statistics, (b) up to 20 schools that the District “determines are likely to be negatively or disproportionately affected by teacher turnover,” and (c) the Three Schools; 5 (2) in the event of a RIF, the District will skip teachers at the targeted schools; and (3) to minimize negative consequences at other schools as a result of skipping teachers at the targeted schools, the District will ensure that no other school is impacted greater than the District average.

Over UTLA's objection, the trial court approved the consent decree after conducting a fairness hearing and finding that the consent decree was fair, reasonable and adequate. Judgment was rendered pursuant to the terms of the written order of final approval.

This timely appeal followed.


UTLA and the settling parties agree that the trial court did not decide the merits of the Students' claims and that, for purposes of this appeal, the consent decree potentially affected the seniority rights of UTLA's members. While UTLA argues that it was entitled to a decision on the merits, the settling parties argue that due process was satisfied by the fairness hearing.

The law supports UTLA.

[208 Cal.App.4th 329]I. Due process requires a decision on the merits.

The United States Supreme Court has instructed that the contract, statutory or constitutional rights of a party who intervenes or is joined in a lawsuit are entitled to no less respect than the rights asserted by the persons who originated a lawsuit. ( Flight Attendants v. Zipes (1989) 491 U.S. 754, 765, 109 S.Ct. 2732, 105 L.Ed.2d 639( Zipes ).) Thus, in W.R. Grace & Co. v. Rubber Workers (1983) 461 U.S. 757, 771, 103 S.Ct. 2177, 76 L.Ed.2d 298( W.R.Grace ), the court held that “[a]bsent a judicial determination,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and an employer could not “alter [a] collective-bargaining agreement without” an affected union's consent. ( W.R. Grace, supra, at p. 771, 103 S.Ct. 2177.) The court noted that “[p]ermitting such a result would undermine the federal labor policy that parties

[145 Cal.Rptr.3d 459]

to a collective-bargaining agreement must have reasonable assurances that their contract will be honored. [Citation.] Although the ability to abrogate unilaterally the provisions of a collective-bargaining agreement might encourage an employer to conciliate with the Commission, the employer's added incentive to conciliate would be paid for with the union's contractual rights.” ( Ibid.) Then, in Firefighters v. Cleveland (1986) 478 U.S. 501, 529, 106 S.Ct. 3063, 92 L.Ed.2d 405( Local Number 93 ), the court held that a trial court's “approval of a consent decree between some of the parties therefore cannot dispose of the valid claims of nonconsenting intervenors; if properly raised, these claims remain and may be litigated by the intervenor.” 6 In our view, these cases ineluctably establish that neither a consent decree nor a trial court's approval of a consent decree can abrogate a third party's rights. The only permissible inference from these holdings is that a third party is entitled to a decision on the merits. There is no other way for the courts to provide [208 Cal.App.4th 330]equal respect to settling parties' rights and the rights of nonsettling intervenors as the Supreme Court has mandated by its decision in Zipes. Our understanding of Supreme Court precedent is bolstered by Martin v. Wilks (1989) 490 U.S. 755, 109 S.Ct. 2180, 104 L.Ed.2d 835( Martin ). In Martin, the court cited Local Number 93 as support for this statement: “A voluntary settlement in the form of a consent decree between one group of employees and their employer cannot possibly ‘settle,’ voluntarily or otherwise, the conflicting claims of another group of employees who do not join in the agreement. This is true even if the second group of employees is a party to the litigation.” ( Martin, supra, 490 U.S. at p. 768, 109 S.Ct. 2180.)

W.R. Grace,Local Number 93 and Zipes represent the trend regarding the dictates of procedural due process under the federal Constitution. ( People v. Bradley (1969) 1 Cal.3d 80, 86, 81 Cal.Rptr. 457, 460 P.2d 129;Moon v. Martin (1921) 185 Cal. 361, 366, 197 P. 77.) That trend is amplified by lower federal decisions.

In U.S. v. City of Hialeah (11th Cir.1998) 140 F.3d 968, 983( Hialeah ), the United States negotiated a consent decree with a city to remedy alleged racial discrimination in the hiring of firefighters and police officers. ( Hialeah, supra, at p. 971.) The parties to the settlement sought approval based on a prima facie showing of

[145 Cal.Rptr.3d...

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