Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio

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This suit fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims, rather than the court of common pleas, because Plaintiff sought legal relief rather than equitable relief. This suit challenged the legality of fees that were incurred by some recipients of workers’ compensation benefits when accessing their benefits. In this appeal, however, the Supreme Court was required to determine only whether the suit was properly brought in the court of common pleas or whether it should have been brought in the Court of Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction over many suits against state entities such as the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff’s claim was equitable because it sought full payment of the benefit lawfully awarded to him by the Bureau, and therefore, the Court of Common Pleas had exclusive jurisdiction in the matter. View "Cirino v. Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its order allocating the cost of a permanent-total-disability award between two different employers and issue an amended order. Appellee filed an application for permanent-total-disability compensation based on three workers’ compensation claims for work-related injuries she received while working for two different employers. A staff hearing officer granted the application. Appellant, one of Appellee’s employers, filed this mandamus action challenging the Commission’s allocation of the cost of the award among the three claims. The court of appeals ordered the Commission to vacate the portion of the hearing officer’s order allocating the cost of the award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission abused its discretion by failing to explain the basis for the specific allocations of the award among the three claims. View "State ex rel. Penske Truck Leasing Co. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The unambiguous language of Ohio Rev. Code 2744.02(B)(3), which provides that a political subdivision may be held liable for the negligent failure to keep public roads in repair and the negligent failure to remove obstructions from them, required that the City of Campbell be granted judgment as a matter of law in this personal injury action seeking recovery based on the City’s alleged failure to remove foliage that was growing thirty-four feet in front of a stop sign. The trial court denied the City’s motion for summary judgment. The appellate court affirmed, concluding that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether section 2744.02(B)(3) applied as an exception to the City’s immunity from suit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the stop sign at issue was in repair and not obstructed, this matter must be remanded to the trial court to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against the City. View "Pelletier v. City of Campbell" on Justia Law

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The tort of intentional interference with or destruction of evidence does not include claims alleging interference with or concealment of evidence that disrupt a plaintiff’s underlying case. Appellee filed an action against a school district, its board of education, and five board members (collectively, school defendants) alleging wrongful termination and sex discrimination. Appellants were attorneys who represented the school defendants in the wrongful termination case. While the wrongful termination case was pending, Appellee filed the instant action against Appellants, alleging intentional spoliation of evidence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Appellants because Appellee was unable to establish that Appellants had physically destroyed evidence. The appellate division reversed, concluding that the intentional concealment, interference with, or misrepresentation of evidence was sufficient to establish a viable spoliation claim. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the judgment of the trial court, holding that allegations of intentional interference with or concealment of evidence are not actionable under the independent tort of intentional spoliation of evidence. View "Elliott-Thomas v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying the writ of mandamus sought by Appellant seeking to compel the Industrial Commission to vacate its order retroactively adjusting Appellant’s benefit rate. After Appellant was injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident he began receiving workers’ compensation benefits. After the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation discovered that Appellant’s benefit rates had been incorrectly calculated, it recalculated Appellant’s full weekly wage and average weekly wage. The Commission affirmed the Bureau’s order and instructed the Bureau to determine how much Appellant had previously been overpaid and to recoup that amount through reduction of his future benefits. The court of appeals concluded that the Commission had not abused its discretion in upholding the Bureau’s adjustment of Appellant’s benefit rate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to demonstrate a clear legal right to the relief requested or a clear legal duty on the part of the Commission to provide it. View "State ex rel. Witt v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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The definition of “claimant” for purposes of Ohio Rev. Code 4123.931(G) is any party who is eligible to receive compensation, medical benefits, or death benefits from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Further, a claimant becomes eligible at the time of the injury or death that occurred during the course of employment and remains eligible unless and until a determination that the claimant is not entitled to benefits has been made and has become final or, if no claim is filed, until the time allowed for filing a claim has elapsed. Loretta Verlinger, a benefits applicant, appealed the denial of her application to the Industrial Commission. During the pendency of the appeal, Verlinger settled claims with Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and Foremost Property and Casualty Insurance Company. The Commission subsequently allowed Verlinger’s claim. The trial court granted summary judgment for Verlinger, concluding that she was not a claimant pursuant to section 4123.931. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) Verlinger was a claimant at the time she settled with the insurance companies; and (2) Metropolitan and Foremost were jointly and severally liable to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, a statutory subrogee, for the full amount of its subrogation interest. View "Bureau of Workers' Compensation v. Verlinger" on Justia Law

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To recover on a claim for asbestos-related injuries, the “cumulative-exposure theory,” which postulates that every non-minimal exposure to asbestos is a substantial factor in causing mesothelioma, is in consent with the test for causation set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 2307.96 and therefore not a sufficient basis for finding that a defendant’s conduct was a “substantial factor” in causing an asbestos-related disease. The Supreme Court thus reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which held otherwise. The court then entered judgment for the defendant-manufacturer, holding that the evidence presented was not sufficient to show that exposure to asbestos from the manufacturer’s product was a substantial factor in causing the injury at issue. View "Schwartz v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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To recover on a claim for asbestos-related injuries, the “cumulative-exposure theory,” which postulates that every non-minimal exposure to asbestos is a substantial factor in causing mesothelioma, is in consent with the test for causation set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 2307.96 and therefore not a sufficient basis for finding that a defendant’s conduct was a “substantial factor” in causing an asbestos-related disease. The Supreme Court thus reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which held otherwise. The court then entered judgment for the defendant-manufacturer, holding that the evidence presented was not sufficient to show that exposure to asbestos from the manufacturer’s product was a substantial factor in causing the injury at issue. View "Schwartz v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The delayed damage rule, which modifies the general rule for when a cause of action accrues, did not apply to this cause of action alleging negligence related to the procuring of a professional-liability insurance policy. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment dismissing the complaint filed by Appellee as untimely, holding (1) the delayed-damage rule does not apply to a cause of action alleging negligent procurement of a professional-liability insurance policy or negligent misrepresentation of the terms of the policy when the policy contains a provision specifically excluding the type of claim that the insured alleges it believed was covered by the policy; (2) the cause of action in such a case accrues on the date the policy is issued; and (3) therefore, the complaint filed by Appellee in this case was untimely. View "LGR Realty, Inc. v. Frank & London Insurance Agency" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Roark, a Sunesis laborer, was working alone at the bottom of a trench, when the trench collapsed, killing him. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation awarded Roark’s dependent children benefits. The dependents sought an additional award based on violations of specific safety requirements for sloping, shoring, and bracing. A hearing officer concluded that Roark’s death was the result of Sunesis’s failure to properly support the trench and ordered Sunesis to pay an additional award based on violations of Ohio Adm.Code 4123:1-3-13. On remand, a hearing officer issued factual findings based on photographs and testimony: Three sides of the trench were adequately shored. The fourth wall, which caved in on Roark, consisted of soil that Sunesis attempted to shore up by sloping the wall and inserting a steel plate above the slope. The hearing officer found no evidence that Roark disregarded instructions to work inside a large underground pipe. On rehearing, in 2012, a hearing officer identified the soil involved as soft material, Class C soil with groundwater, stating that Code Table 13-1 addresses the approximate angle of repose for sloping: The presence of groundwater requires special treatment. The commission, the Tenth District, and the Supreme Court of Ohio upheld the award. It was within the commission’s discretion to conclude that the trench was not properly shored or braced, exposing employees to the danger of moving ground and that failure to comply with the regulations proximately caused Roark’s death. View "Sunesis Construction Co. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law