Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Sexual Abuse Victim Wants Compensation Cap for Injuries Overturned

Image is of the white marble Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center from the side looking up

The Supreme Court of Ohio will review the constitutionality of the cap on recovery in civil cases for nonmonetary injuries.

Image is of the white marble Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center from the side looking up

The Supreme Court of Ohio will review the constitutionality of the cap on recovery in civil cases for nonmonetary injuries.

A Brook Park man’s sexual abuse of numerous children has led to an appeal to be heard next week by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

One of the victims, Amanda Brandt, sued the man who abused her in a civil case to recover damages. The jury determined she was entitled to $134 million. However, the trial court lowered the portion for nonmonetary losses and injuries from $20 million to $250,000. The reduction was required by a state law that limits the amount a victim can collect for nonmonetary losses and injuries, such as pain and suffering.

Brandt argues the law is unconstitutional as applied to her and others who were sexually abused as children.

The appeal has attracted three amicus briefs supporting Brandt, including from organizations that advocate for children and for crime victims.

Six amicus briefs were filed contending that compensation limit is constitutional. Among them are the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, groups representing business and insurance interests, and a former General Assembly member who helped to draft the statute containing the limit.

Two Earlier Supreme Court Rulings Under Review
At the center of the appeal is the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Simpkins v. Grace Brethren Church of Delaware – which upheld the law’s cap in a case involving someone who was sexually assaulted as a child. In its opinion, the Court noted that “there may exist a set of facts under which application of the statutory damage caps would prove unconstitutional.” Brandt maintains hers is that case.

The Court also will consider whether to reverse a related decision, Arbino v. Johnson & Johnson (2007), in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of the statute overall, rather than as applied to any one person’s case.

Brook Park Father Convicted on Nearly 100 Charges
Brandt was sexually abused by Roy Pompa, who drugged and raped girls in his home. The girls ranged in age from 6 to 13. He sexually abused Brandt dozens of times when she was 11 and 12 years old, and he recorded video.

Pompa was convicted in May 2007 on nearly 100 counts, including rape, gross sexual imposition, and kidnapping.

At Brandt’s trial in the civil case, the ongoing consequences of Pompa’s actions were presented. Brandt suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder, constant nightmares, and anxiety. She shops for groceries in the middle of the night and avoids group activities because of panic attacks. She turned to heroin as a young adult, was homeless for a year, and attempted suicide.

Brandt appealed the reduction of the jury award to the Eighth District Court of Appeals, which upheld the reduction. The Supreme Court agreed to hear Brandt’s appeal.

Victim Rights Undermined by Cap, Woman Contends
Brandt argues that R.C. 2315.18, which imposes the cap on nonmonetary damages, contradicts the civil justice system’s role in making victims whole and curtails the rights of victims of childhood sexual abuse. The law undermines the jury’s constitutional role in deciding cases because its verdict is undone by the statute, Brandt asserts.

Noting that some physical injuries are exempt from the damages cap, she maintains that the distinctions drawn in the law between physical, emotional, and psychological injuries are arbitrary and irrational. Child victims of sexual abuse don’t typically incur significant economic injuries, she states. Yet the emotional and psychological injuries that these victims endure is just as real, substantial, and catastrophic, Brandt maintains. She contends that the law treats victims differently based on their injuries – a violation of the constitutional right of victims of childhood sexual abuse to equal protection under the law.

Cap Applies to All and Minimizes Excessive Verdicts, Man Counters
Pompa’s brief argues that the Simpkins ruling holds in this case. Nothing makes this appeal different because Simpkins already addressed Brandt’s arguments, his brief contends. Pompa adds that the law’s mandated cap on jury determinations of nonmonetary damages above $250,000 applies equally to all victims. The statute increases certainty for the parties in these types of cases and minimizes the wildly varying amounts of jury verdicts that preceded the cap, Pompa maintains. The law remains constitutional, his brief concludes.

Pompa, who is serving a prison sentence of life without parole, also suggests that the Court dismiss the case. He states that he will be unable to pay the judgment, whether it is the lesser $114 million or the full $134 million.

Oral Argument Details
The Court will hear four appeals on March 29 and four more cases, including Brandt v. Pompa, on March 30. Oral arguments begin each day at 9 a.m. The arguments will be streamed live online at and broadcast live on the Ohio Channel, which also archives them.

In addition to these highlights, the Court’s Office of Public Information released preview articles today about each case, available through the case-name links.

Tuesday, March 29
Medication-Assisted Treatment
A Guernsey County court offered “intervention in lieu of conviction” in 2019 to a man accused of drug possession. As a condition of participation, the probation department’s policy mandated that the man, who was diagnosed with severe opioid-use disorder, work with a doctor to stop taking his prescribed medication within three months. The man tapered off the medication but contested the policy in court. The appeals court ruled that the man complied with the requirement, so the case was moot. In State v. Yontz, the man argues that had he not complied, he faced a conviction and possible prison time. He states that he should be permitted to take the medication recommended by his physician for treatment.

Vehicle Searches
During a traffic stop, a Cincinnati police officer opened a man’s car door and ordered the man to exit the vehicle. Another officer looked inside and noticed a marijuana joint on the floor, triggering a full vehicle search and discovery of a handgun in a bin. In State v. Jackson, the man contends that by leaving the car door open, the officer exposed areas of the car that wouldn’t have otherwise been visible. He maintains that officers had no right to access his vehicle without a warrant. The county prosecutor responds that when the officer saw the joint, it gave the police probable cause for the search, which was legal without a warrant under an exception for searching automobiles.

Expert Testimony
A Delaware County teenager reported that her mother’s ex-husband raped her a decade earlier when she was 7 years old. In preparation for the man’s trial, the prosecutor discovered an expert witness report wasn’t delivered to man’s lawyer 21 days prior to the trial, which is required by Ohio court rules. The man was convicted, but an appeals court ordered a new trial. In State v. Bellamy, the Court will determine if the failure to deliver the report on time for the first trial bars the expert from testifying at the man’s retrial.

Wednesday, March 30
Speedy Trial
A Lawrence County man and three others were arrested in 2019 on drug charges. The man spent time in jail and on bond leading up to his trial, and he didn’t waive his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The prosecutor’s office told the trial court that complying with the man’s request to see the evidence against him required transferring thousands of hours of surveillance video onto storage devices. In State v. Belville, the man sought to have his case dismissed because, under state law, the trial did not start within the speedy trial limits. The prosecutor argues the delays in turning over the requested evidence suspended the speedy trial time clock and the man’s rights weren’t violated.

DNA Evidence
In a postconviction relief petition, a Pickaway County man seeks a new trial for his 1997 rape conviction. The man claims that in 2018, he discovered a 1998 memo written by the DNA expert who testified for the prosecution in his trial. The man maintains the memo contradicts the trial testimony and conclusively proves that DNA excluded him from being one of the two rapists who attacked a 17-year-old girl. In State v. Hatton, prosecutors argue the information in the memo isn’t new, and the man doesn’t deserve a new trial because he was convicted by the overwhelming evidence against him.

Juvenile Court
A juvenile court in Butler County considered complaints against the parents of three children. The complaints were filed in October and December of 2018. The court held its disposition hearings in March and June of 2019, terminating the parents’ rights. State law requires juvenile courts to hold disposition hearings within 90 days of the filing of abuse, neglect, or dependency complaints. In In re K.K., the agency maintains that the parents didn’t take the necessary steps for the court to dismiss the cases for missing the deadline. The parents respond that the law mandates dismissal when the hearing isn’t held within 90 days.