EDWIN GARCIA v. CITY OF HARTFORD et al., SC 18205

Judicial District of Hartford

 

      Labor; Collective Bargaining Agreements; Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; Whether a Former Hartford Police Officer should have been Excused from Exhausting the Grievance Procedures of a Collective Bargaining Agreement on the Ground that only Current Employees may Avail Themselves of Those Procedures.  In 1996, the plaintiff resigned from his employment as a police officer for the defendant city of Hartford.  Thereafter, he requested that he be allowed to trade in his accumulated sick time for the purpose of obtaining greater monthly pension benefits pursuant to the applicable collective bargaining agreement.  The city denied his request, and, consequently, he brought this action, seeking damages and a writ of mandamus.  The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint on the ground that he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies in that he had not taken advantage of the grievance procedures set forth in the collective bargaining agreement.  In response, the plaintiff sought to invoke the futility exception to the exhaustion of administrative remedies doctrine, arguing that, as a former employee, he was not entitled to avail himself of the grievance procedures under the collective bargaining agreement, which, he claimed, only applied to current employees.  In granting the motion to dismiss, the trial court noted that under the collective bargaining agreement, any dispute concerning the interpretation of the agreement must be settled through the grievance procedures.  It then determined that the plaintiff was required to exhaust the grievance procedures prior to initiating the present matter because his complaint raised the issue of whether he was entitled to trade in his accumulated sick time under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.  The court further rejected the plaintiff's futility claim on the ground that he had failed to allege in his complaint that he did not have access to the grievance procedures.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court properly dismissed the plaintiff's complaint under the exhaustion of administrative remedies doctrine.