Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a limited writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its decision denying the request of Paul Digiacinto for permanent total disability (PTD) compensation and to hold a new hearing on Digiacinto's PTD application, holding that the Tenth District erred in holding that the Commission's failure to mention an ALJ's earlier decision granting Digiacinto's request for social security disability benefits in its order was an abuse of discretion. In 2001, Digiacinto suffered a workplace injury. In 2003, an ALJ granted Digiacinto's request for social security disability benefits. In 2015, Digiacinto filed a third application for PTD compensation. The Commission denied the application, concluding that Digiacinto had voluntarily abandoned the workforce, rendering him ineligible for compensation. Digiacinto then brought this mandamus action seeking an order for the Commission to vacate its order denying his PTD application. The court of appeals granted a limited writ, holding that the Commission's failure to mention the ALJ's decision in its order was an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Commission was not required to discuss the ALJ's decision; and (2) the ALJ's decision was not key to the success or failure of the PTD application. View "State ex rel. Digiacinto v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's wrongful-termination-in-violation-of-public-policy claim, holding that Plaintiff's dismissal did not jeopardize the public policy identified by the trial court and that Plaintiff did not satisfy the jeopardy element of her wrongful-termination-in-violation-of-public-policy claim. Plaintiff alleged that her employer wrongfully terminated her employment because she had challenged the employer for failing accurately to report her earnings to the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation. The trial court dismissed the complaint, concluding that dismissing employees under such circumstances would not jeopardize the stated public policy manifested in the provisions of Ohio Rev. Code Chapter 4141 and that section 4141.27 sets forth an adequate remedy for violating the public policy embodied in the statute. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred by determining that Plaintiff could not satisfy the jeopardy element and that the statutory remedies contained in Chapter 4141 was insufficient to protect Plaintiff's interests. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the remedies in Chapter 4141 are sufficient to protect society's interest in the public policy that employers accurately report employees' pay and tips and the lack of a personal remedy for the dismissed employee does not jeopardize the stated public policy. View "House v. Iacovelli" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in this action determining whether an insurer who settles a personal injury claim with an accident victim has a duty to distribute a portion of the settlement proceeds to the victim's former lawyers pursuant to a charging lien, holding that an action based upon a charging lien is an in rem proceeding against a particular fund and that when a matter is resolved through a settlement, the fund comes into being at the time the settlement is paid and the release is received. A discharged law firm sought to enforce a charging lien against a tortfeasor's insurer for the law firm's representation of the victim injured by the tortfeasor. However, no lawsuit was filed on behalf of the victim against the tortfeasor, and the victim settled with the tortfeasor's insurer after he discharged the law firm. The Supreme Court held that, under the facts of this case, the discharged law firm could not enforce its charging lien against the tortfeasor's insurer, and therefore, the discharged law firm did not have a viable charging-lien claim against the tortfeasor's insurer. View "Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC v. Progressive Max Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of WBNS-TV, Inc. and dismissing Plaintiffs' defamation claim, holding that the court of appeals applied an incorrect standard in determining whether the fault element of the defamation claim had been met. The Columbus Police Department sent an information sheet to WBNS describing the robbery of a hoverboard from an eight-year-old. A photograph accompanying the information sheet depicted three siblings as potential suspects. The police department later released a statement that the people in the photograph had not been involved in the robbery. The siblings and their mother filed a complaint against WBNS alleging defamation. The trial court granted summary judgment for WBNS, concluding that Plaintiffs could not prove an essential element - fault - of their defamation claim. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' judgment and remanded the cause to the court of appeals, holding (1) the standard set forth in Landsdowne v. Beacon Journal Publishing Co., 512 N.E.2d 979 (Ohio 1987), was the appropriate standard to apply in this case; and (2) the court of appeals erred by not applying this standard. View "Anderson v. WBNS-TV, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals ruling that, pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2744.02(B)(1), a political subdivision may be liable for its negligent failure to train its police officers in high-speed pursuits, holding that the statute does not allow a political subdivision to be held liable for consequences arising from an employee's training or the supervision of that employee in operating a motor vehicle. A police officer was involved in a motor vehicle accident with a vehicle driven by Renee McConnell while the officer was responding to an emergency call. McConnell and her family brought suit against the officer, as well as the Coitsville Township and its board of trustees and the Coitsville Township Police Department (collectively, the Township), alleging that the Township negligently hired, trained, or supervised the officer. The trial court denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment asserting immunity. The court of appeals affirmed in part. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the township was entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claim that the township was negligent, willful, and/or wanton in its hiring, policies, and/or training of the officer. View "McConnell v. Dudley" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's compensatory damages award, holding that there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law establishing causation to support Plaintiff's claims of negligence and negligent entrustment against Defendant, Giant Eagle, Inc. Plaintiff was at the Giant Eagle grocery store when her shopping cart was hit by a Giant Eagle motorized cart driven by another customer. Plaintiff, who was injured as a result of the collision, brought this action against Defendant. The jury found that Giant Eagle was negligent and that Giant Eagle's negligence was the proximate cause of Plaintiff's injuries. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was insufficient evidence of causation as a matter of law to support the claims of negligence and negligent entrustment against Defendant. View "Rieger v. Giant Eagle, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting Thomas Beyer's request for a writ of mandamus and ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its decision denying Beyer's request for an award under Ohio Rev. Code 4123.57 for the permanent partial loss of sight in his right eye, holding that a physician, not the commission, must determine the degree of a claimant's impairment. In denying Beyer's request, the Commission found that the record did not contain sufficient medical evidence to substantiate it because Beyer did not present medical evidence of the percentage of vision lost. The court of appeals ordered the commission to vacate its decision and grant Beyer the requested award, finding that Beyer had provided the commission with sufficient evidence for the commission to determine the percentage of vision lost. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) claims involving medical determinations may be established only by submitting appropriate medical evidence; and (2) Beyer's evidence fell short because he did not present evidence of a physician's determination of the degree of his impairment. View "State ex rel. Beyer v. Autoneum North America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the Industrial Commission did not abuse its discretion when it found that Alfredo Pacheco was medically able to perform light-duty work offered by his employer, Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) but reversed the conclusion that Alcoa did not make the light-duty job offer in good faith, holding that the court of appeals should not have determined whether the job was offered in good faith. Pacheco sustained an injury while working for Alcoa and received temporary total disability (TTD) compensation for approximately one year. Thereafter, Alcoa offered Pacheco light-duty employment. Pacheco accepted the offer and worked in the light-duty position for three weeks. Pacheco then submitted a renewed request for TTD compensation, which Alcoa denied. The Commission denied the request for TTD compensation based on a finding that the light-duty job was within Pacheco's medical restrictions. The court of appeals concluded that the evidence supported the Commission's finding but also concluded that the job offered by Alcoa was not offered in good faith. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that where the Commission did not address the question of whether the light-duty job offer was made in good faith, the court of appeals should not have made that determination. View "State ex rel. Pacheco v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its order denying the request of Joshua Pilarczyk for permanent total disability (PTD) compensation, holding that the court of appeals erred in relying on the report of Dr. Kenneth Gruenfeld in making its decision. Dr. Gruenfeld undertook an independent psychological evaluation of Pilarczyk at the request of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and then issued a report stating that Pilarczyk was likely able to perform sustained remunerative employment despite his psychological disability. The Commission denied Pilarczyk's request for PTD compensation based in part on Dr. Gruenfeld's report. The court of appeals concluded that the Commission abused its discretion by denying PTD compensation based on Dr. Gruenfeld's report and issued a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to vacate its order denying PTD compensation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Dr. Gruenfeld's report was equivocal and ambiguous, and therefore, it did not constitute "some evidence" in support of the Commission's determination that Pilarczyk could engage in sustained remunerative employment. View "State ex rel. Pilarczyk v. Geauga County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the court of appeals in this construction dispute, holding that Ohio's construction statute of repose, Ohio Rev. Code 2305.131, applies to any cause of action, whether sounding in contract or tort, so long as the cause of action meets the requirements of the statute. Plaintiff filed this action against several defendants, companies involved in the design and construction of a public school building, alleging claims for breach of contract. Defendants argued that the statute of repose on section 2305.131 barred Plaintiff's claims because substantial completion of the project occurred more than ten years before the claims were filed. The trial court agreed and dismissed the claims as time barred. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that section 2305.131 does not apply to breach of contract claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 2305.131 applies to both contract and tort claims. View "New Riegel Local School District Board of Education v. Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc." on Justia Law