final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Jose M.
Rodriguez, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 15-9001
Victoria Méndez, City Attorney, and Kerri L. McNulty,
Assistant City Attorney, for appellant.
Buschel Gibbons, P.A. and Robert C. Buschel and Eugene G.
Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale), for appellee.
SUAREZ, LAGOA, and SCALES, JJ.
City of Miami (the "City") appeals the circuit
court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellee
Jean Marie Jean-Phillipe ("Jean-Phillipe") in his
challenge to the City Manager's actions following a Civil
Service Board review of a disciplinary action against him.
Finding error in the procedures followed below, we reverse
and remand so that Jean-Phillipe may pursue his proper remedy
of an appeal to the appellate division of the circuit court.
details of the complaints lodged against Jean-Phillipe are
irrelevant to the issue in this appeal and our analysis of
that issue, it is sufficient for purposes of this opinion to
state that following an investigation by the City's
police department, Jean-Phillipe, a City of Miami police
officer, was issued a reprimand and suspended for 200 hours.
Jean-Phillipe appealed that suspension to the Civil Service
Board pursuant to the remedies afforded him under the City of
Miami Code of Ordinances. The Civil Service Board found
Jean-Phillipe not guilty of the actions for which he was
disciplined. Those written findings were forwarded to the
City Manager, also pursuant to the procedures set forth in
the Code of Ordinances. The City Manager rejected the finding
of innocence as to one charge and imposed a 200 hour
suspension as to that charge.
then brought an action for declaratory relief in the circuit
court. Jean-Phillipe argued that the City Manager did not
have the authority to reverse the Civil Service Board's
finding of not guilty. Over the City's objection, the
circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of
Jean-Phillipe and issued a Final Judgment which vacated the
City Manager's suspension and remanded to the City to
reinstate the Civil Service Board's recommended finding
of not guilty. The City then filed the present appeal.
we find that the procedures followed by both parties in this
case were incorrect, we reverse and remand. As explained
below, the appropriate remedy for Jean-Phillipe was to seek
review of the City Manager's determination in the
appellate division of the circuit court and not in the
circuit court itself. As further explained below, the City
Manager's review of the findings of fact by the Civil
Service Board was limited, and, upon remand, the appellate
division will have to decide whether his determination that
those conclusions were not supported by competent substantial
evidence was proper. Finally, we clarify that the City had no
right to challenge the City Manager's final determination
on its own, but could properly respond to any appeal brought
of Miami Code Provisions
pertinent parts, the Code of Ordinances states:
40-122 - Disciplinary Actions Generally.
(a) Authority of city manager, department director;
appeals to board; investigatory, evidentiary powers of
Any officer or employee in the classified service may be
removed, fined, laid off, or reduced in grade by the city
manager or by the director of the department in which he/she
is employed, for any cause which will promote the efficiency
of the service; but he/she must be furnished with a written
statement of the reasons therefor within five days from the
date of the removal, suspension, fine, layoff, or reduction
in grade, and be allowed a reasonable time for answering such
reasons in writing, which shall be made a part of the records
of the board; and he/she may be suspended from the date when
such written statement of reason is furnished him/her. No
trial or examination of witnesses shall be required in such
case except at the discretion of the city manager or the
Any employee in the classified service who deems that he/she
has been suspended, removed, fined, reduced in grade or
demoted without just cause may, within 15 days of such action
by the department director, request in writing a hearing
before the civil service board to determine the
reasonableness of the action. [e.s.] The board shall, within
30 days after appeal of the employee disciplined, proceed to
hear such appeal. After hearing and considering the evidence
for and against the employee, the board shall report in
writing to the city manager its ...