IAFF Local 834 v. City of Bridgeport
Every reasonable presumption should be made in favor of the arbitration award and the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff to present sufficient evidence to set the award aside. The city of Bridgeport fire department brought eight charges against employee Ronald Morales. Following a disciplinary hearing, Morales was found in violation of certain provisions of the department's rules and regulations. Chief Brian Rooney imposed a penalty of 15 days suspension and demoted Morales from provisional senior fire inspector to fire inspector. Morales filed a grievance disputing the penalties. The city denied the grievance. The union, IAFF Local 834, on behalf of Morales, claimed the matter for arbitration. The unrestricted submission requested that the arbitrators consider whether the discipline of Morales was for just cause and, if not, what the remedy should be. The arbitration panel ruled that just cause existed for the suspension and demotion and that the actions taken by Morales "were in the vast majority, but not all instances" clear violations of the department's rules and regulations. The trial court granted the defendant city's application to confirm the award and denied the plaintiff union's application to vacate the award. The union appealed claiming that the trial court improperly concluded that the award of the arbitration panel was final and definite as to the parties. The plaintiff argued that it was impossible to determine, from the panel's ruling, which charges Morales was found to be responsible for and which charges he was relieved of responsibility and, thus, the panel's award was not final as to the charges presented. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment finding that the panel's award conformed to the submission. The parties' submission to the panel did not request a finding as to each charge but merely required the panel to determine if the discipline was for just cause. The award answered the question of whether Morales was disciplined for just cause and, thus, fell within the scope of the submission.