Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Ohio Supreme Court
Vacha v. City of N. Ridgeville
Appellee, who worked for the City of North Ridgeville, was assaulted and raped by a co-worker while at work. Appellee filed this action against the City for, among other causes of action, intentional, willful, and wanton disregard for the safety of others in selecting and controlling the co-worker, which was an employer intentional tort. The trial court denied the City's motion for summary judgment on Appellee's employer-intentional-tort claim. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that because an intentional tort may arise out of the employment relationship between a political subdivision and its employee, the City did not establish that it was entitled to immunity as a matter of law on that claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a civil action by an employee of a political subdivision alleging an intentional tort against her employer may fall within the Ohio Rev. Code 2744.09(B) exception to political-subdivision immunity; and (2) the City did not establish that it was entitled to political-subdivision immunity on Appellee's employer-intentional-tort claim as a matter of law. View "Vacha v. City of N. Ridgeville" on Justia Law
Supportive Solutions, LLC v. Elec. Classroom of Tomorrow
Appellant was a political subdivision for purposes of the governmental-immunity provisions of Ohio Rev. Code 2744. Appellee sued Appellant, asserting several claims. Appellant filed a motion for partial summary judgment, claiming political-subdivision immunity. Appellant then unsuccessfully sought to file an amended answer raising political-subdivision immunity as an affirmative offense. Thereafter, the trial court granted summary judgment to Appellant on two of Appellee's claims. After Appellant appealed the trial court's denial of leave to file an amended answer, the case proceeded to trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Appellee on two of its remaining claims. Appellant filed a second appeal from the judgment. While Appellant's appeals were pending, the Supreme Court held that Appellant's first appeal divested the trial court of jurisdiction to proceed with a trial of any claim subject to the political-subdivision immunity defense. The court of appeals subsequently dismissed Appellant's appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court's denial of Appellant's motion for leave to file an amended answer to raise the affirmative defense of political-subdivision immunity precluded Appellant from enjoying the benefits of the alleged immunity; and (2) the court of appeals therefore possessed jurisdiction to determine Appellant's appeal of that order. View "Supportive Solutions, LLC v. Elec. Classroom of Tomorrow" on Justia Law
Marusa v. Erie Ins. Co.
Maria Marusa was driving her car when it was struck by a police cruiser driven by a police officer (Officer). Marusa and her daughter (collectively, Appellants) were injured in the accident. Appellants filed suit against Marusa's insurer (Insurer), seeking damages to compensate for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Insurer answered that it was not obligated to pay damages because even though the policy included uninsured-motorist coverage and the officer was an uninsured motorist, Appellants were not "legally entitled to recover" because Officer was immune under the Ohio Political Subdivision Tort Liability Law (OPSTLL). The trial court granted summary judgment for Insurer, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the language of the policy unambiguously provides uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when the insured is injured by an owner or operator who is immune under the OPSTLL. View "Marusa v. Erie Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Estate of Johnson v. Randall Smith, Inc.
Appellant, a medical doctor, performed surgery on Jeanette Johnson. Johnson's common bile duct was injured during the procedure. Johnson later returned to the hospital because of complications resulting from the bile duct injury. In an effort to console Johnson, Appellant said, "I take full responsibility for this. Everything will be okay." On July 26, 2007, Johnson and her husband filed an action against Appellant for negligent medical treatment and loss of consortium. Upon Appellant's motion, the trial court ruled that Appellant's statement of apology would be inadmissable at trial. The jury later returned a general verdict in favor of Appellant. At issue on appeal was whether Ohio Rev. Code 2317.43, which prevents the admission of certain statements made by healthcare providers, could be applied to Appellant's statement of apology even though the statement was made before the statute took effect. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the trial court erred in applying section 2317.43 retroactively to exclude Appellant's statement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 2317.43 applies to any cause of action filed after September 13, 2004; and (2) therefore, Appellant's statement was properly excluded. View "Estate of Johnson v. Randall Smith, Inc." on Justia Law
In re Disqualification of Forchione
Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death action against Defendants. Counsel for Defendants filed affidavits with the clerk of the Supreme Court seeking to disqualify Judge Frank Forchione from presiding over further proceedings in the pending case, alleging that Judge Forchione was prejudiced in favor of Plaintiff because he granted Plaintiff's motion to strike Defendants' jury demand and because the judge lacked judicial objectivity. The Supreme Court denied the affidavits of disqualification, holding (1) rulings that are adverse to a party in a pending case are not grounds for disqualification; and (2) the record did not demonstrate the judge was partial to Plaintiff or that he had a bias against Defendants or their counsel. View "In re Disqualification of Forchione" on Justia Law
Riffle v. Physicians & Surgeons Ambulance Serv., Inc.
Andrea Riffle, then in her third trimester of pregnancy, called the City of Akron Fire Department EMS, reporting serious vaginal bleeding. Department personnel responded to the call but did not assess the unborn child or transport Riffle to the hospital. Instead, they contacted a private ambulance service, which transported Riffle to the hospital. Riffle's baby survived for only three days. The Riffles sued the City and several of its medical-emergency personnel, alleging that each had negligently, recklessly, and wantonly caused the death of their daughter. The City moved for judgment on the pleadings, claiming immunity. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Ohio Rev. Code 4765.49(B) provides for an exception to political-subdivision immunity when emergency medical services are provided in a manner constituting willful or wanton misconduct. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that wanton misconduct, pursuant to section 4765.49(B), is an exception to political-subdivision immunity, and the complaint therefore states a claim upon which relief may be granted. View "Riffle v. Physicians & Surgeons Ambulance Serv., Inc." on Justia Law
Anderson v. Massillon
Plaintiff filed a wrongful death action against the city and two of its firefighters. The action arose out of the death of Plaintiff's husband and grandson, who died when a city fire engine operated and commanded by the defendant firefighters collided with Plaintiff's husband's vehicle. The trial court court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding (1) the city had a full defense to liability pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2744.02(B)(1)(b) because the operation of the fire truck did not constitute willful or wanton misconduct; and (2) the firefighters were entitled to immunity pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2744.03(A)(6)(b) because Plaintiff presented no evidence that the firefighters had acted with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner. The court of appeals reversed, holding that reasonable minds court find that the firefighers' actions in this case were reckless and that the willful or wanton misconduct referred to in section 2744.02(B)(1)(b) was the functional equivalent of recklessness. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that the willful or wanton misconduct and recklessness degrees of care have different meanings, involve different degrees of culpability, and are not interchangeable. After the Court's clarification of the terms, the matter was remanded. View "Anderson v. Massillon" on Justia Law
Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials N.A., Inc.
Employee worked in the aisle of a warehouse where he sustained injuries when a co-worker operating a sideloader struck him. Employee sued Employer, asserting the company had deliberately intended to injure him by directing him to work in the aisle with knowledge that injury was substantially certain to occur. The trial court granted Employer's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Employee failed to show Employer intended to injure him. The court of appeals reversed, holding that there were genuine issues of material fact that Employer objectively believed the injury to Employee was substantially certain to occur. At issue on appeal was the recently enacted statute, Ohio Rev. Code 2745.01(A), which specifies that an employer is not liable for an intentional tort unless the employee proves the employer had the intent to injure or believed the injury was "substantially certain" to occur. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred by ignoring the statutory definition of "substantially certain" and holding Employer could be held liable for Employee's injuries if "objectively believed" the injury was substantially certain to occur; and (2) no evidence existed that Employer deliberately intended to injure Employee by directing him to work in the warehouse aisle. View "Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials N.A., Inc." on Justia Law
Bennett v. Adm’r, Bureau of WorkersÂ Comp.
This appeal presented issues regarding the scope of a workers' compensation appeal in common pleas court pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 4123.512. Specifically, the appeal concerned whether, in that proceeding to determine a claimant's right to participate in the workers' compensation fund, the court was limited to considering those issues that were specifically determined by the Industrial Commission below, or whether the de novo nature of the proceeding obligated the claimant to present and the court to consider all the evidence necessary for determining the claimant's right to participate. The court of appeals rejected the claimant's claim that the trial court erred in placing the burden on him to establish any injury-relatedness or causation in his section 4123.512 appeal because those issues were not considered in the administrative rulings. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that the de novo nature of a section 4123.512 appeal proceeding puts in issue all elements of a claimant's right to participate in the workers' compensation fund. View "Bennett v. Adm'r, Bureau of WorkersÂ Comp." on Justia Law
DiFranco v. FirstEnergy Corp.
Two public utilities (the companies) were wholly owned subsidiaries of appellant FirstEnergy Corporation. Appellees were residential customers of the companies. The customers filed a class-action complaint against FirstEnergy and the companies in the county court of common pleas. The complaint raised four causes of action: declaratory judgment, breach of contract, fraud, and injunctive relief. The trial court granted FirstEnergy's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction, finding that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) had exclusive jurisdiction over the allegations in the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed in all respects except with regard to the customers' fraud claim. The appellate court determined on two separate grounds that the trial court had jurisdiction over the fraud claim and remanded that claim to the trial court. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, holding (1) the customers' fraud claim was not a pure tort action, but rather, was a claim that the companies were overcharging the customers for electric service; and (2) because the complaint was challenging the rates charged for utility service, it fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the PUCO. View "DiFranco v. FirstEnergy Corp." on Justia Law