Sloan v. City of Madison Heights

Decision Date08 July 1986
Docket NumberDocket No. 73800
Citation389 N.W.2d 418,425 Mich. 288
PartiesGerald T. SLOAN, Plaintiff-Appellee, Cross-Appellant, and Fraternal Order of Police, State Labor Council, Intervening Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CITY OF MADISON HEIGHTS, a Michigan Municipal Corporation, Defendant-Appellant, Cross-Appellee, and Local 1917, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Intervening Defendant-Appellant.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

James Paterson, Hazel Park, for plaintiff-appellee, cross-appellant.

John A. Lyons, Birmingham, for Fraternal Order of Police, State Labor Council, intervening plaintiff-appellee.

Harry H. Young, City Atty., Allen J. Kovinsky, Susan M. Tardiff, Asst. City Attys., Southfield, for City of Madison Heights.

Rose Mary C. Robinson, Detroit, for AFSCME Local 1917, intervening defendant-appellant.

Sachs, Nunn, Kates, Kadushin, O'Hare, Helveston & Waldman, P.C., Theodore Sachs, George H. Kruszewski, Detroit, for amici.

BOYLE, Justice.

The issue in this case is whether vacancies in the positions of chief of police and assistant chief of police in Madison Heights are to be filled pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) or by the collective bargaining agreement with Local 1917, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). 1 The FOP contract covers command unit officers. The AFSCME contract covers department heads. Plaintiff-appellee Gerald T. Sloan is a member of the command officers unit, intervening plaintiff-appellee is the Fraternal Order of Police, State Labor Council, defendant-appellant is the City of Madison Heights, and intervening defendant-appellant is Local 1917, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In addition to the major issue in this case, defendants and plaintiffs agree that there are two preliminary issues which must be determined by this Court: 1) do the plaintiffs have standing to bring this suit, and 2) is a 1979 decision by the Oakland Circuit Court res judicata in this matter?

We agree with plaintiffs that neither the lack of standing nor the res judicata claims have merit. We find, however, that the language of the two collective bargaining agreements requires the conclusion that promotion to the positions of police chief and assistant police chief are governed by the terms of the AFSCME contract. We therefore reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals. 2

The litigants in this action have been in conflict about the proper promotion procedure for the positions of police chief and assistant police chief since 1978 when plaintiff Gerald Sloan and fellow command unit officer James Siebert contested the appointment of Joseph Whitefield as police chief and Frank Good as assistant police chief. Sloan and Siebert contended that the positions should have been filled pursuant to the Civil Service Act, 1935 P.A. 78, M.C.L. Sec. 38.501; M.S.A. Sec. 5.3351. The City of Madison Heights asserted that the positions were to be filled pursuant to the AFSCME contract, enacted under the public employees relations act, M.C.L. Sec. 423.211; M.S.A. Sec. 17.455(11), which specified that promotions would be granted on the basis of ability to perform.

After a hearing, the Civil Service Commission in 1978 found that the collective bargaining agreement between the City of Madison Heights and AFSCME superseded the provisions of the civil service act for fire or police departments. Sloan and Siebert then appealed the decision to the Oakland Circuit Court. On November 26, 1979, Judge Gene Schnelz entered an order affirming the Civil Service Commission, specifically finding:

"Wherefore, the Court holds that the promotion [sic] in the instant case, which were in full compliance with the Local 1914 [sic] collective bargaining agreement, were not made in violation of Act 78 and the action of the Civil Service Commission of the City of Madison Heights is upheld."

The plaintiff in the 1979 case then appealed to the Court of Appeals, but the appeal was dismissed for failure to comply with the Michigan General Court Rules regarding appeals. No further action or appeal was taken by either plaintiff.

The factual scenario in the instant case began on June 30, 1982, when Joseph Whitefield resigned as the Madison Heights' chief of police. On July 17, 1982, after the opening for that position was posted in all departments for five days, the city manager appointed Frank Good to the vacated position. This appointment created a vacancy in the position of assistant chief of police. On July 28, 1982, the city manager appointed Detective Sergeant Gerald Crossley to the position of assistant chief of police.

On July 23, 1982, prior to Crossley's appointment as the new assistant chief of police, plaintiff filed his complaint for declaratory judgment in Oakland Circuit Court, seeking a determination that the two available positions should be filled pursuant to the competitive examination requirements of the FOP contract and the firemen and policemen civil service act. In an answer filed on August 6, 1982, defendant city admitted all material allegations, but denied that promotions to the positions of chief of police and assistant chief of police were governed by the FOP contract.

On August 20, 1982, FOP moved to intervene, alleging that it was the certified and exclusive agent for the Madison Heights Command Officers Association. FOP also filed a complaint for mandamus, seeking an order commanding the Madison Heights Civil Service Commission to appoint a time and place for a public hearing to discuss its action in refusing to use competitive examinations to fill the positions of chief of police and assistant chief of police. The trial court granted FOP's motion to intervene on September 8, 1982. In an amended answer, the city alleged the affirmative defense of res judicata.

In late August 1982, plaintiff and the city each moved for summary judgment pursuant to GCR 1963, 117.2. A hearing was held on September 22, 1982. At the close of arguments, the trial court issued an oral opinion, concluding that the res judicata defense was without merit, that the FOP contract governed promotions to assistant chief of police, and that the AFSCME contract governed promotions to chief of police. An order granting AFSCME's motion to intervene was entered on October 8, 1982. An order granting partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiff Sloan and partial summary judgment in favor of the city was filed on October 14, 1982. An amended order was filed on November 3, 1982.

The Court of Appeals, after granting leave to appeal, found that the trial court was correct in its findings that the plaintiffs had standing and that the res judicata issue was without merit, but concluded that the trial court had incorrectly interpreted the contracts. The Court of Appeals further held that the two bargaining agreements were not in conflict because "ability to perform," as used in the AFSCME contract, must be determined by competitive examination, as provided for in the FOP contract. It, therefore, reversed the trial court order with regard to the position of chief of police and affirmed with regard to the assistant chief position. In conclusion, the Court of Appeals stated:

"The trial court concluded that the chief of police position need not be filled by competitive examination because a lieutenant in the bargaining unit covered by the FOP contract 'would not have the right to test two ranks up.' The trial court was in error in this regard. Section 12(b) of the firemen and policemen civil service act, MCL 38.512(b); MSA 5.3362(b), provides that in the event only one person is in the next lower rank (here, assistant chief of police) for the vacancy (here, chief of police), persons in the second lower rank (here, lieutenants) with at least five years experience in the department may also compete for the vacancy. Thus, lieutenants qualified by the minimum experience requirement would have the right to test for the chief of police position."

We first turn to defendant's allegation that plaintiffs do not have standing in this case. It is defendant's contention that, because the FOP bargaining agreement specifically excludes from its jurisdiction the positions of assistant chief and chief of police, the plaintiffs have no standing to ask for an enforcement of rights properly belonging to the AFSCME members. They further allege that Gerald Sloan, as a lieutenant who did not apply for the two vacant positions, has no substantive legal rights to bring a cause of action. In sum, defendants contend that plaintiffs have shown no special injury and, therefore, are not real parties in interest as required by GCR 1963, 201.2.

Plaintiffs argue that they have shown specific injury because they allege a violation of their own contract's promotional procedure. In addition, they point out that this is a suit for a declaratory judgment which they contend requires only that the plaintiffs be "interested part[ies]," pursuant to GCR 1963, 521.1.

We agree with plaintiffs that their allegation that the city's failure to make promotions in accord with the FOP contract deprives them of contractual rights won through collective bargaining is sufficient to confer standing. In addition, for the purposes of a declaratory judgment, plaintiffs are "interested part[ies]," as they are seeking a declaration of their own rights under the FOP contract.

Defendants second contention is that a 1979 decision requires application of the doctrine of res judicata in the instant case. The plaintiffs disagree, claiming that the requirements for res judicata have not been met.

The Court of Appeals correctly noted that there are three prerequisites to the application of the doctrine of res judicata. There must have been a prior decision on the merits; the issues must have been resolved in the first case, either because they...

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