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City of Duluth v. Duluth Police Local

December 28, 2004

CITY OF DULUTH, RESPONDENT,
v.
DULUTH POLICE LOCAL, RESPONDENT, AND THE DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE, A DIVISION OF NORTHWEST PUBLICATIONS, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, APPELLANT.



St. Louis County District Court File No. C6-04-600429.

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Presiding; Shumaker, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. A respondent who does not file a notice of review may not challenge in this court an adverse decision by the district court.

2. Under the plain language of the Minnesota Data Practices Act, an arbitrator's award sustaining a grievance by a discharged police officer and reinstating him to his position is a final disposition under Minn. Stat. § 13.43, subd. 2(b) (2002) and constitutes public data under Minn. Stat. § 13.43, subd. 2(a)(5) (2002).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge

Reversed

OPINION

Appellant newspaper challenges the partial final judgment granting a protective order for an arbitrator's award sustaining a grievance by a discharged police officer and reinstating him to his position, contending that the information is public data under Minn. Stat. § 13.43, subd. 2(a)(5) (2000), because the arbitrator's award is a final disposition under Minn. Stat. § 13.43, subd. 2(b) (2002). We reverse.

FACTS

On February 24, 2003, the city of Duluth suspended one of its police officers with pay pending investigation into his alleged criminal conduct. The city discharged the officer on June 9, 2003, and, on the same day, respondent Duluth Police Union filed a grievance. An arbitrator heard the matter, sustained the grievance, and reinstated the officer to his position on November 20, 2003.

The Duluth News Tribune sought a copy of the arbitration award from the city. After obtaining an advisory opinion from the Commissioner of Administration that the award was private data in that no disciplinary proceeding occurred because the arbitration award did not result in a sanction to the officer, the city declined to make the award accessible to the public.

The city filed a petition in district court to vacate the award under Minn. Stat. § 572.19 (2002) and moved for a protective order. Appellant News Tribune intervened and moved for an order to compel the city to allow it to inspect and copy the award. The district court granted a protective order, denied the News Tribune's motion, and entered partial final judgment pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 54.02. This appeal followed.

ISSUES

I. Can respondents challenge an adverse decision by the district court without ...


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