Court Improv’s Jurisdictional Question in Unfair Labor Practice Appeal. Greater Dayton Regional Transit Auth. v. State Emp. Relations Bd.

On November 2, 2016, by a vote of 5-2, the Supreme Court of Ohio dismissed as improvidently accepted Greater Dayton Regional Transit Auth. v. State Emp. Relations Bd., Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-7559.  Chief Justice O’Connor and Justices Lanzinger, Pfeifer, O’Neill, and O’Donnell voted to dismiss. Justices Kennedy and French dissented.

At issue in this case was the interpretation of the term “transact business” in R.C. 4117.13(D) in order to establish jurisdiction in a court of common pleas over an appeal from a State Employment Relations Board unfair labor practice adjudication.  Read the oral argument preview of the case here and an analysis of the oral argument here.

At argument, among other points, both SERB and the Union argued that the case should be dismissed, so this is a win for them. On behalf of SERB, the attorney general’s office argued that what happened in the case was such a rare occurrence that no useful general rule of law could be written.

After the oral argument, I predicted a win for SERB and the Union either by way of a dismissal as improvidently accepted or with a refusal to read the word “any” into the statutory phrase “transacts business.” I predicted that dismissal was the more likely outcome because of the fear of unintended consequences, particularly in tax cases where the court wouldn’t want a narrow interpretation of “transacts business. “

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