Sinley v. Safety Controls Technology, Inc.

[Until this opinion appears in the Ohio Official Reports advance sheets, it may be cited as Sinley v. Safety Controls Technology, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-4153.] NOTICE This slip opinion is subject to formal revision before it is published in an advance sheet of the Ohio Official Reports. Readers are requested to promptly notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of Ohio, 65 South Front Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, of any typographical or other formal errors in the opinion, in order that corrections may be made before the opinion is published. SLIP OPINION NO. 2022-OHIO-4153 SINLEY, APPELLEE, v. SAFETY CONTROLS TECHNOLOGY, INC., ET AL.; SUPERIOR DAIRY, INC., APPELLANT. [Until this opinion appears in the Ohio Official Reports advance sheets, it may be cited as Sinley v. Safety Controls Technology, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-4153.] Contracts—Collective-bargaining agreements—Arbitration—R.C. 2745.01— Intentional torts—To compel arbitration against a union employee, the claim at issue must have been clearly and unmistakably waived in the arbitration provisions in the collective-bargaining agreement governing the parties—To be clear and unmistakable, the claim must be included either by statute or specific cause of action in the arbitration provision of the collective-bargaining agreement—Court of appeals’ judgment affirmed. (No. 2020-1158—Submitted September 7, 2021—Decided November 23, 2022.) APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County, No. 109065, 2020-Ohio-4068. __________________ SUPREME COURT OF OHIO BRUNNER, J. {¶ 1} When an employee is a member of a labor union, he yields some individual rights for benefits he realizes through a collective-bargaining process and its resulting agreement or contract. The individual unionized employee is governed by the terms of his union’s collective-bargaining agreement, including any terms that require arbitration as the exclusive remedy to resolve a dispute. But this does not change the traditional analysis of whether an issue is arbitrable—the breach or controversy must have been contemplated by the collective-bargaining agreement. So when a dispute arises from outside the terms of the agreement—i.e., not simply a breach of the agreement itself but a dispute arising from common-law or statutory authority separate from the agreement—the dispute must be within the scope of the issues the parties to the collective-bargaining agreement contemplated for arbitration in order to otherwise preclude a judicial forum. {¶ 2} Specifically, the issues that the parties to a collectively bargained agreement intend to be resolved by arbitration must be precise, clear, and unmistakable in the language of the agreement. Because appellee Steven Sinley’s claims against his employer in this case were not clearly contained within the terms of the arbitration clause in his union’s bargaining agreement with his employer, we hold that he cannot be compelled into arbitration to resolve his claims. I. Facts and Procedural History {¶ 3} Sinley worked in the maintenance department at a dairy-food production facility operated by appellant, Superior Dairy, Inc. (“Superior”), in Stark County. Sinley alleges that on May 11, 2019, he responded to a call to repair a malfunctioning grinder machine. He alleges that while working on the machine, he suffered a severe injury to …

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