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City of Medina v. Skinner

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

November 3, 2014

The City of Medina, Respondent
v.
Roger L. Skinner et al., Appellants

Oral Argument, September 18, 2014

Appeal from King County Superior Court. Docket No: 13-2-05722-1. Judge signing: Honorable Susan Craighead. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 10/01/2013.

William J. Murphy, for appellants.

Greg A. Rubstello (of Ogden Murphy Wallace PLLC ); and P. Stephen DiJulio (of Foster Pepper PLLC ), for respondent.

Authored by Marlin Appelwick. Concurring: Linda Lau, Michael S. Spearman.

OPINION

Page 1173

Marlin Appelwick, J.

[184 Wn.App. 451] [¶1] Skinner appeals the trial court's order granting the City a statutory writ of review to challenge the award of back pay by the Medina Civil Service Commission. He argues that the City was not entitled to seek a statutory writ of review. Although the City did not apply for a constitutional writ of review, Skinner preemptively argues that the City was not entitled to one. The City stipulated at oral argument that if a constitutional writ of review rather than a statutory writ of review was available, the appeal should be resolved as if a constitutional writ of review had been sought. The City contends that the Commission exceeded its authority when it modified Skinner's discipline and awarded him back pay as a remedy. We conclude that the legislature did not intend for the employer [184 Wn.App. 452] to have a right of appeal under RCW 41.12.090, and therefore a statutory writ of review is unavailable. We reverse the trial court and vacate the statutory writ of review. However, a constitutional writ of review is available to the employer. Under the standard for a constitutional writ of review, we conclude that the Commission exceeded its authority under RCW 41.12.090 when it attempted to determine and award back pay and benefits. The constitutional writ of review is granted. The Commission's order is vacated as to back pay and benefits, but otherwise affirmed.

FACTS

[¶2] Lieutenant Roger Skinner was terminated from his position with the City of Medina (City) Police Department on February 15, 2006 for a violation of department standards. Skinner timely appealed his dismissal to the Civil Service Commission (Commission) of the City. On December 21, 2012, the Commission found that the City acted in good faith and with just cause when it disciplined Skinner. But, it found that the City did not have cause to terminate Skinner. The Commission ordered that Skinner's discharge be set aside. Instead of discharge, the Commission ordered that Skinner be suspended without pay and benefits for the period of February 16, 2006 through April 16, 2006. Additionally, it ordered that Skinner be demoted to patrol officer effective February 16, 2006.

[¶3] Further, the Commission ordered that Skinner was entitled to back pay and benefits as a city patrol officer beginning April 17, 2006 until the date his health precluded his return to work. The Commission said that it would set a hearing at which it would receive evidence as to the implementation of the remedy if the parties could not resolve it via stipulation. Finally, it ordered that it would retain jurisdiction over the matter until resolution of the " remedy phase." The City moved for partial reconsideration [184 Wn.App. 453] challenging the Commission's award of back pay and benefits. The Commission denied the City's motion, stating that any issues regarding the offset of Skinner's wages or earnings after

Page 1174

his suspension ended would be addressed during the remedy phase of the proceeding.

[¶4] The City applied for a statutory writ of review under chapter 7.16 RCW on February 15, 2013. The City argued that the Commission exceeded its authority in ordering back pay and benefits to Skinner, because he was not fully reinstated to his old position. ...


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