Teamsters Local 320 v. Minn. Judicial Branch, A21-1315

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
PartiesTeamsters Local 320, Appellant, v. Minnesota Judicial Branch, Respondent.
Docket NumberA21-1315
Decision Date02 May 2022

Teamsters Local 320, Appellant,

Minnesota Judicial Branch, Respondent.

No. A21-1315

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 2, 2022

This opinion is nonprecedential except as provided by Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 136.01, subd. 1(c).

Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CV-21-5146

Kevin M. Beck, Joseph A. Kelly, Patrick J. Kelly, Kelly & Lemmons, P.A., St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

Keith Ellison, Attorney General, Jason Marisam, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

Josie Hegarty, Staff Attorney, South St. Paul, Minnesota (for amicus curiae American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 5)

Considered and decided by Cochran, Presiding Judge; Gaïtas, Judge; and Rodenberg, Judge. [*]



In this interlocutory appeal, appellant-union challenges the district court's decision to deny its motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) or temporary injunction. Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying the motion. Appellant also argues that the district court order should be vacated because the presiding district court judge was biased. Because we conclude that the district court acted within its discretion by denying the motion and that appellant's judicial-bias argument is not properly before us on appeal, we affirm.


This case arises from a labor dispute between appellant Teamsters Local 320 (Teamsters) and respondent Minnesota Judicial Branch (MJB). Teamsters is a labor union that represents all official court reporters employed by MJB. The parties' employment relationship is governed by the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA), Minn. Stat. §§ 179A.01-.60 (2020), and by the terms of a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA).

The dispute underlying this action concerns how MJB compensates court reporters for the preparation of certain transcripts. Under state law, court reporters are authorized to charge a fee to prepare a transcript "ordered by any person other than the judge." Minn. Stat. § 486.06 (2020). When a person other than the judge requests a transcript, the court reporter performs that work as an independent contractor, doing the work outside of their regular workday for a per-page fee. The per-page fee rate is "set by the chief justice." Id. The chief justice, in turn, has delegated the authority to set transcript rates to the Minnesota


Judicial Council. Authority to Set Transcript Rates, No. C1-84-2137 (Minn. Mar. 30, 2006) (order).

In contrast to transcripts ordered by any person other than a judge, state law does not provide for separate compensation for a transcript ordered by a judge. When a transcript is ordered by a judge, a court reporter performs that work "without charge" during their regular business hours. Minn. Stat. § 486.02 (2020). A court reporter's regular hourly wage covers the production of transcripts ordered by a judge.

At issue in this case is a change to an MJB policy regarding the preparation of in forma pauperis (IFP) transcripts. IFP transcripts are prepared at the state's expense for litigants who are "financially unable to pay the fees, costs and security for costs" of participating in civil court proceedings. Minn. Stat. § 563.01, subds. 2-3(a), 7 (2020). Court reporters have traditionally prepared IFP transcripts as independent contractors: they performed that work outside of the regular workday and charged the state a per-page fee. The judicial council set that per-page fee in its Policy 221.

On June 17, 2021, the judicial council amended Policy 221. Effective October 1, 2021, the amendments eliminated the fee rate for most IFP transcripts and established a one-year pilot project to have those transcripts produced by court reporters during the regular workday without charge. The amendments applied to all IFP transcripts except those in cases involving sexual psychopathic personality/sexually dangerous persons (SPP/SDP). On September 15, 2021, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order consistent with the amendments to Policy 221. Specifically, the order directed that "[a]ll official court reporters shall prepare [IFP] transcripts ordered by a


district court judge on behalf of a party during normal business hours, excluding transcripts in [SPP/SDP] cases." The order clarified that, under the pilot project, IFP transcripts constitute transcripts ordered by a judge on behalf of a party. The order provided that MJB would implement the pilot project between October 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022.

In July 2021, after the amendment of Policy 221 and prior to issuance of the order, Teamsters and MJB attended a meet-and-confer regarding the amendment of Policy 221. At that meeting, Teamsters asserted that the IFP pilot project constituted a change to a term and condition of the court reporters' employment that required mandatory collective bargaining. Thereafter MJB refused Teamsters' repeated requests to bargain regarding the pilot project, maintaining that the change to Policy 221 is not subject to collective bargaining because it involves a matter of inherent managerial policy and does not affect a term or condition of employment.

In late September 2021, Teamsters filed a civil complaint against MJB alleging a violation of Minn. Stat. § 486.06 relating to court reporters' compensation for IFP transcripts and an unfair-labor-practice claim under section 179A.13, subdivision 2(5), of PELRA for failing to meet and negotiate concerning the IFP pilot project. The same day it filed its complaint, Teamsters moved for a TRO or a temporary injunction, seeking to prevent MJB from implementing the IFP pilot project prior to a judgment on the merits of its claims. Teamsters' motion centered on its unfair-labor-practice claim, arguing that a TRO or temporary injunction was necessary to preserve the status quo. Teamsters also argued that the union and its members would suffer irreparable harm if temporary relief was not granted. MJB opposed the motion.


On September 30, 2021, the district court held a hearing on Teamsters' TRO/temporary-injunction motion. It issued an order later that day denying the motion.

Following the district court's order, Teamsters filed a notice of appeal on October 12, 2021. In its statement of the case to this court, Teamsters stated that it was appealing from the "[o]rder denying injunction filed September 30, 2021." On October 12, Teamsters also moved the district court to disqualify the presiding district court judge on the ground of bias and vacate the September 30, 2021 order. The district court thereafter issued notice that the district court action had been reassigned to a different judge, but it did not rule on Teamsters' motion to disqualify the originally assigned judge or vacate the September 30, 2021 order.

Teamsters appeals.


Teamsters raises two arguments on appeal. First, it contends that the district court abused its discretion by denying its motion for a TRO or temporary injunction. Second, it asserts that we must vacate the district court's September 30, 2021 order denying its TRO/temporary-injunction motion based on its contention that the district court judge was biased. We address each argument in turn.

I. The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Teamsters' motion for a TRO or temporary injunction.

TROs and temporary injunctions are extraordinary remedies. In re Commitment of Hand, 878 N.W.2d 503, 509 (Minn.App. 2016), rev. denied (Minn. June 21, 2016). "Whether to grant a TRO or temporary injunction is left to the discretion of the district


court and will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of that discretion." Id. In reviewing the district court's decision whether to grant an injunction, we consider the facts in the light most favorable to the prevailing party. See In re Peer Rev. Action, 749 N.W.2d 822, 827 (Minn.App. 2008), rev. dismissed (Minn. Aug. 21, 2008). We will not set aside a district court's findings unless they are clearly erroneous. Haley v. Forcelle, 669 N.W.2d 48, 55 (Minn.App. 2003), rev. denied (Minn. Nov. 25, 2003).

In denying Teamsters' motion for a TRO or temporary injunction, the district court determined that Teamsters failed to meet its burden under either Minn. Stat. § 185.13 (2020) or rules 65.01 and 65.02 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court explained that section 185.13 applies to requests for an injunction in cases involving a labor dispute and sets forth certain factors that must be met for an injunction to issue. And it noted that the court's considerations are "similar" when deciding whether to issue a temporary injunction under rule 65.02.

The district court determined that Teamsters was not entitled to a TRO or temporary injunction under either section 185.13 or the court rules because the union and its members "will not suffer irreparable harm" without such relief. In addition, the court specifically considered the factors set forth in Dahlberg Bros. v. Ford Motor Co., 137 N.W.2d 314 (Minn. 1965), which are applicable to TRO/temporary-injunction motions brought under rules 65.01 and 65.02. Those factors include:

(1) The nature and background of the relationship between the parties preexisting the dispute giving rise to the request for relief.
(2) The harm to be suffered by plaintiff if the temporary restraint is denied as compared to that inflicted on defendant if the injunction issues pending trial.
(3) The likelihood that one party or the other will prevail on the merits when the fact situation is viewed in light of established precedents fixing the limits of equitable relief.
(4) The aspects of the fact situation, if any, which permit or require consideration of public policy expressed in the statutes, State and Federal.
(5) The administrative burdens involved in judicial

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