Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court Announces Decisions in 18 Cases

Columbus Southern Power opinion one of 18 released in first of two case announcements expected December 6.

Columbus Southern Power opinion one of 18 released in first of two case announcements expected December 6.

Columbus Southern Power opinion one of 18 released in first of two case announcements expected December 6.

Columbus Southern Power opinion one of 18 released in first of two case announcements expected December 6.

The Ohio Supreme Court this morning announced decisions in 18 cases, including a $42 million utility rebate case, the affirmation of a capital murder conviction, and three attorney discipline cases.

As part of a year-end transition process in which the Supreme Court is releasing a large number of decisions this week, the court announced its rulings in the following cases: (to view the court’s full opinion in a case, click on the hyperlink and scroll down to the last item on the docket).

Court Affirms PUCO Order That Utility Must Rebate Customers for ‘Significantly Excessive Earnings’ of More Than $42 Million
In In Re Application of Columbus Southern Power Co. the court upheld an order of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) finding that, compared to similar companies, Columbus Southern Power Company (CSP) realized “significantly excessive earnings” of more than $42 million from the rates it charged customers during 2009, and ordering CSP to rebate those excessive earnings to its customers.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Supreme Court Affirms Death Sentence In 2007 Akron Rape, Murder
The court upheld the aggravated murder conviction and death sentence of Phillip L. Jones of Akron for the 2007 rape and strangulation killing of Susan Yates in a Summit County cemetery. (View a complete summary of State v. Jones.)

Court Upholds Four-Year Statute of Repose for Bringing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

In Ruther v. Kaiser the court upheld as constitutional a four-year statute of repose (time limit) for filing medical malpractice lawsuits set forth in R.C. 2305.113(C). The court reversed a decision of the 12th District Court of Appeals that had allowed a malpractice action to go forward despite the passage of more than ten years between the alleged malpractice and the filing of the plaintiff’s suit. In its decision, the court applied the test in Westfield Ins. Co. v. Galatis (2003), and formally overruled a 1987 Ohio Supreme Court decision, Hardy v. VerMeulen, which held that a previous statute of repose for medical malpractice actions violated an injured party’s constitutional right to a remedy.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Reversal of Conviction and Release From Prison Does Not Automatically Entitle Defendant to Compensation for Wrongful Imprisonment
In Doss v. State, the court held that the reversal by the court of appeals of a Cleveland man’s convictions for rape and kidnapping, for lack of evidence was not “proof of innocence” sufficient to support a summary judgment declaring him to be a “wrongfully imprisoned person” entitled to obtain compensation from the state.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Existence of Arrest Warrant Does Not Deprive Subject of All Expectation of Privacy
In State v. Gardner the court ruled that an individual who is the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant does not forfeit all expectations of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Ohio Constitution, Section 19, Article I.  Based on that holding, the court remanded the case of a Dayton-area man to the trial court with instructions to consider whether he was improperly detained and searched by police who were not aware of the existence of the warrant at the time.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

2010 Legislation Requires Police, Crime Labs to Preserve and Catalog DNA Evidence That Was In Their Possession on Date Law Took Effect
In State v. Roberts the court held that legislation that took effect July 6, 2010, requiring police and other governmental entities to preserve and catalog DNA evidence, applies to biological evidence already in the possession of those entities at the time of the statute’s effective date.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Acquittal Based on Trial Court’s Lack of Venue Is ‘Final Verdict’ Not Appealable by the State
In State v. Hampton the court held that a trial court may enter a judgment of acquittal when the state has failed at trial to prove the venue of the offense as alleged in the indictment. An acquittal based upon the lack of proof of venue is a final verdict that may not be appealed by the state.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Informational Pamphlet Describing Testing Process Is Not Enforceable as Contract
In Rayess v. Educational Comm. for Foreign Medical Graduates the court ruled that: 1) An informational pamphlet describing the testing required of a foreign-medical-school graduate in order to obtain a medical license in the United States is not a contract. And 2) An application to take an examination and payment of a testing fee do not constitute a binding agreement between the applicant and the testing entity that is subject to the 15-year statute of limitations for lawsuits based on written contracts.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Judicial Candidate Fined For Campaign Rule Violations
In In re Judicial Campaign Complaint Against Moll the court affirmed findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline that a campaign brochure distributed by attorney Jeanette Moll of Zanesville during her 2012 campaign for a seat on the Fifth District Court of Appeals violated several provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The court also adopted the board’s recommendation that Moll be sanctioned for those violations by the imposition of a $1,000 fine and an assessment of $2,500 in attorney fees plus the costs of the disciplinary board’s proceedings.

Revenue from State’s Driver License Abstract Fee May Be Expended for Non-Highway Purposes
The court held in Ohio Trucking Association v. Charles that the $5 fee charged by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for providing certified abstracts of the records of Ohio drivers is not “related to the registration, operation, or use of vehicles on public highways,” and therefore a 2009 state law allocating revenues generated by the abstract fee for non-highway purposes is not in conflict with a provision of the Ohio Constitution that requires motor vehicle and gasoline tax revenues to be used exclusively for highway-related purposes.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Intentional Workplace Tort Claim Requires Showing of ‘Deliberate Intent to Injure’
The court ruled in Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp that under legislation enacted in 2005, a Cleveland worker injured on the job could not pursue an “intentional workplace tort” lawsuit against his employer because he failed to present evidence showing that the employer acted “with deliberate intent to cause an employee to suffer an injury ...” Based on that analysis, the court reversed a ruling by the Eighth District Court of Appeals and reinstated a trial court decision awarding summary judgment in favor of the employer.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Appeals Court Erred in Reversing Dismissal of Lawsuit by Injured Party at Wayne County Stable

In Smith v. Landfair, the court ruled that a provision of state law that confers general immunity on an “equine event participant” for injuries suffered by a “spectator at an equine event” applies to an incident in which a bystander at a horse barn was injured by a horse while its owner was unloading the animal from a trailer. In applying this finding to the case of a woman who suffered head and facial injuries at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, the court reversed a ruling by the  Ninth District Court of Appeals that overturned the trial court’s summary judgment based on its interpretation of the word “spectator.”

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Spouse’s Complaint Challenging Property Tax Valuation Permitted
In Columbus City School Dist. Bd. of Edn. v. Franklin Cty. Bd. of Revision, the court held that the Board of Tax Appeals did not act unreasonably or unlawfully in permitting a complaint challenging the auditor’s property tax valuation to be filed by the property owner’s spouse, and that the transaction occurred at “arm’s length,” or between a willing seller and buyer even though the sale price was less than the seller owed on the mortgage.

Cleveland Schools Property Tax Valuation Complaint Should Not Have Been Dismissed
In 2200 Carnegie, L.L.C. v. Cuyahoga Cty. Bd. of Revision, the court ruled that the notice of the filing of a valuation complaint seeking an increase in the value of the property with a county Board of Revision is a jurisdictional requirement, but the failure of the auditor to notify the property owner within the required 30-day deadline is a curable error. The decision reverses a judgment by the Eighth District Court of Appeals and reinstates the trial court’s ruling.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Disbarred Attorney
The court disbarred Cincinnati attorney Jason R. Hennekes because he “took his client’s money, failed to render any services to clients, failed to return the clients’ money and failed to cooperate in the disciplinary investigation.” The court also noted that Hennekes could have been disbarred for a previous serious disciplinary offense resulting from his conviction of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Cincinnati Bar Assn. v. Hennekes

Suspended Attorney
The court issued a one-year stayed suspension on conditions for Canfield attorney James Vivo for failing to act competently in a client’s case and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation. Mahoning Cty. Bar Assn. v. Vivo.

Publicly Reprimanded Attorney
The court publicly reprimanded Avon Lake attorney Richard P. Stuart for failing to provide competent representation and not informing his client that he didn’t have professional liability insurance. Lorain Cty. Bar Assn. v. Stuart.

Other Entries
One entry decides the outcome of a case that was held on the authority of a decision in a similar case. In addition, the court announced 5 motion and procedural rulings, declined to hear 1 case, denied 18 motions for reconsideration, granted 2 motions for reconsideration, and reinstated 1 attorney to the practice of law. Details are available in the announcement.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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