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Township of Rockaway v. Fraternal Order of Police

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


May 7, 2009

IN THE MATTER OF TOWNSHIP OF ROCKAWAY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, LODGE NO. 31, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the Public Employment Relations Commission, No. SN-2007-054.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued January 27, 2009

Before Judges Wefing, Parker, and LeWinn.

Township of Rockaway appeals from a Final Decision of the Public Employment Relations Commission ("PERC") denying its request to restrain the arbitration of a grievance that had been filed by Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 31 ("FOP"), the organization which represents all of Rockaway's police officers who do not hold a rank above sergeant. FOP filed its grievance after Rockaway informed it that Rockaway intended to raise the co-pay for visits to physicians from the existing $5 per visit to $10 per visit. FOP asserted that this increase represented a breach of its existing collective bargaining agreement with Rockaway.

In response, Rockaway filed a Petition for Scope of Negotiations Determination with PERC. It argued that the matter was not arbitrable because the $5 increase in the co-pay was the result of a directive from the State Health Benefits Commission ("SHBC"), the entity through which Rockaway provided health insurance benefits for its employees. Rockaway contended the arbitration was barred by N.J.S.A. 34:13A-18.

PERC denied Rockaway's request to restrain the arbitration of this grievance, concluding that Rockaway could present its arguments in the event that the arbitrator concluded that complying with SHBC's mandate constituted a breach of the collective bargaining agreement. Rockaway has appealed from that determination by PERC.

We were informed at oral argument that in the interim, the arbitration has been concluded. This appeal is thus moot because no effective relief could be granted. We decline to consider the issues presented in the absence of a justiciable controversy.

The appeal is dismissed as moot.

20090507

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