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Nevada Supreme Court Rules That Eighth Judicial District Court Is Not Agent of Clark County

Volume 14, Issue 14
July 6, 2015

KZA Partners Gregory J. Kamer and R. Todd Creer recently had the privilege of successfully representing the Eighth Judicial District Court in an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court stemming from a district court decision that mandated Clark County provide a Step 2 post-termination hearing and arbitration to a deputy marshal who had been separated from his employment with the Eighth Judicial District Court due to misconduct.

At the district court, the deputy marshal and the Clark County Deputy Marshals Association sued Clark County and certain court personnel in order to enforce the arbitration provisions found in an Memorandum of Understanding between the Eighth Judicial District Court and the Deputy Marshals Association. Clark County was not a party to the Memorandum of Understanding, but did have a separate agreement with the Eighth Judicial District Court to provide certain personnel services, including post-termination hearings under the Merit Personnel System.

After the deputy marshal was terminated from employment, he requested a Step 2 hearing from Clark County, arguing that Clark County was required to give him the Step 2 hearing and arbitration because Clark County's agreement with the Eighth Judicial District Court empowered the Eighth Judicial District Court to bind Clark County to the Memorandum of Understanding. Clark County denied the request, stating that it was not a party to the Memorandum of Understanding, but did provide a Merit Personnel Hearing, which ultimately upheld the employment termination.

Thereafter, the deputy marshal and the Deputy Marshals Association filed suit seeking to compel Clark County to provide the Step 2 hearing and arbitration. Clark County filed a motion to dismiss, contending that Clark County was neither the employer of the deputy marshals nor a party to the Memorandum of Understanding. In turn, the deputy marshal and Deputy Marshals Association filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Clark County was obligated to provide the Step 2 hearing and arbitration. The Eighth Judicial District Court intervened to ensure that, as a separate branch of government, its inherent powers over its employees was not undermined by any decision of the district court. Once the district court denied Clark County's motion to dismiss and ruled in favor of the deputy marshal and Deputy Marshals Association's motion for summary judgment, both Clark County and the Eighth Judicial District appealed to the Supreme Court.

In reversing the district court's granting of summary judgment to the deputy marshal and Deputy Marshals Association and the district court's denial of Clark County's motion to dismiss, the Nevada Supreme Court held that the Eighth Judicial District Court is not an agent, real or apparent, of Clark County and that Clark County was not bound to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Eighth Judicial District Court and the Deputy Marshals Association. According to the Supreme Court, the deputy marshal should have asked the Eighth Judicial District Court to proceed with his post-termination hearing, but instead sued Clark County to enforce an agreement to which Clark County was not a party. Consequently, the Supreme Court ruled that district court erred in granting the deputy marshal's motion for summary judgment and reversed the order denying Clark County's motion.

Click here to read the full text of the Court's Order of Reversal.

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