Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Court of Appeals Rules Side Letter Moots Appeal of Furlough Order

In San Bernardino Police Officers Association et al., v. City of San Bernardino, Case No. E049925 (June 15, 2011), the Court of Appeal held a side letter settling disputed furloughs meant a lawsuit about the issue was moot. The case started when the City of San Bernardino authorized its City Manager to impose furloughs on police officers.

The POA claimed the threatened furloughs violated the City Charter, its MOU, and the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act. However, a few days after the furloughs started, the City and the POA agreed to a side letter ending the furloughs, extending the MOU one year, and reducing officers’ total compensation by approximately 10 percent.

After learning of the side letter, the Superior Court refused to consider the POA's request it invalidate the resolution authorizing the furloughs and declare, in advance, that any future furloughs implemented pursuant to the resolution would be unlawful.  The Court of Appeal upheld the decision, characterizing it as "a request for an advisory opinion." The Court also decided the case was too fact-specific to decide as an issue of public importance.