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Case CaptionCase No.Topics and IssuesAuthorCitation / CountyDecidedPostedWebCite
The Cincinnati Enquirer v. Cincinnati 2018-01339PQCore Terms: public record; court of claims; R.C. 2743.75; R.C. 149.43; R.C. 149.011(G); personal; text message; person responsible; overly broad. Overview: Requester sought text messages between five members of city council over a period of four months. Respondent argued that a public official’s text messages sent or received on a personal, privately-paid-for cell phone cannot meet the definition of “records” under RC. 149.011(G), are not “kept by” the office, and are thus not subject to the Public Records Act. The special master found that a text message stored on the personal device of a city official is a public record if its content meets the definition of “records” in R.C. 149.011(G) and “public record” in R.C. 149.43(A)(1). The special master found that the request in this case was overly broad in seeking all text messages sent or received between five officials over the substantial period of four months, and recommended the court grant the motion to dismiss on that ground.Clark  2/22/2019 3/20/2019 2019-Ohio-969
Welsh-Huggins v. Office of the Pros. Atty. 2018-00793PQCore Terms: public record; court of claims; R.C. 2743.75; R.C. 149.43; R.C. 149.433; infrastructure; security; video; format; investigatory; undercover. Overview: Requester sought a copy of security camera video of a shooting incident outside the Jefferson County courthouse. Respondent asserted that the entire recording was both a security record and an infrastructure record, and that release of portions of the video would endanger the life or safety of law enforcement personnel and witnesses. The special master found that none of the video content met the definition of an infrastructure or security record, and that respondent failed to show that release of any portion of the video would endanger the life or safety of any law enforcement personnel or witness. The special master further found that the video must be exported, at requester’s choice, in any video format available in the agency’s software. The special master further found that respondent may redact photographs of any peace officers who hold a position or have an assignment that may include undercover or plain clothes positions or assignments. Respondent filed objections. Outcome: The court found no error of law or other defect on the face of the special master’s decision and adopted the report and recommendation as its own.McGrath  2/20/2019 3/20/2019 2019-Ohio-964
Neff v. Knapp 2018-01124PQCore Terms: public record; court of claims; R.C. 2743.75; R.C. 149.43; ambiguous; overly broad; email. Overview: Requester sought email between respondent and employees of a named company on specific dates and times. The special master found that the request as clarified prior to litigation reasonably identified the records sought. The special master further found that requester did not provide clear and convincing evidence to overcome respondent’s attestation that if such emails had existed, they would have been deleted in accordance with the office records retention schedule and were no longer in her possession.Clark  2/14/2019 3/20/2019 2019-Ohio-966
Buduson v. Cleveland 2018-00300PQCore Terms: public record; court of claims; R.C. 2743.75; R.C. 149.43; ambiguous; overly broad; R.C. 187.04(C); JobsOhio; trade secret. Overview: Requester sought all documentation related to respondent’s bid to host the second headquarters of Amazon.com, Inc. (HQ2). Respondent asserted that the request was ambiguous and overly broad, and that that portions of the records were excepted from public records release under R.C. 187.04(C) and as trade secret information. The special master found that the request reasonably identified the formal bid document but was otherwise ambiguous and overly broad. The special master further found that R.C. 187.04(C) exempted only “records created by JobsOhio” from the Public Records Act, not information obtained from JobsOhio and then dispersed into other records of a public office. The special master found that one six-page document could be withheld as a record created by JobsOhio. The special master found that respondent failed to show that any withheld information constituted a trade secret of Cleveland. The special master recommended that the court order respondent to provide requester with the bid document, other than the exempt six pages.Clark  2/12/2019 3/20/2019 2019-Ohio-963
Chillicothe Gazette v. Chillicothe City Schools 2018-00950PQOn respondent’s objections, the court adopted in part, rejected in part, and modified in part a special master’s report and recommendation. The court sustained respondent’s objections, concluding that the special master erred by ordering production of a letter without redactions and by ordering the production of an email after the special master determined that the request for the email was improperly ambiguous, overly broad, and failed to reasonably identify the records sought. The court ordered respondent to produce a copy of the letter with redactions.McGrath  2/5/2019 3/20/2019 2019-Ohio-965
Parks v. Stronger Berger 2018-01294PQCore Terms: public record; court of claims; R.C. 2743.75; R.C. 149.43; R.C. 149.011(A); R.C. 121.22; R.C. Chapter 3517; political action committee; functional equivalent; case of first impression; substantial public interest. Overview: Requester sought copies of invoices, meeting minutes, and bank statements from a political action committee, claiming that it was the functional equivalent of a public office. The special master found that the complaint constituted a case of first impression that involved an issue of substantial public interest. The special master recommended the court dismiss the case under R.C. 2743.75(C)(2) without prejudice to requester commencing an action in mandamus under R.C. 149.43(C)(1). Respondent filed objections. Outcome: The court found no error of law or other defect on the face of the special master’s decision and adopted the report and recommendation as its own.McGrath  2/5/2019 3/20/2019 2019-Ohio-968
Lacey v. Aud. of State 2017-00868JDMalicious prosecution; defamation; intentional infliction of emotional distress; absolute privilege; personal immunity; summary judgment; Civ.R. 56. Plaintiff was a former fiscal officer and tax administrator for a village government. Defendant performed a special audit of plaintiff’s office, and ultimately recommended the county prosecutor charge plaintiff with theft in office. Plaintiff was indicted, but the charges were later dismissed. Plaintiff brings this action against defendant for malicious prosecution, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that communications between defendant and the county prosecutor were protected by an absolute privilege against civil liability. The court granted summary judgment to defendant. Defendant’s communications with the prosecutor were protected by absolute privilege because uncontroverted evidence showed the communications were part of a judicial proceeding and were reasonably related to the alleged criminal activity reported. The court further found that defendant’s employees were entitled to personal immunity as state officers. Plaintiff presented no evidence that the employees acted manifestly outside the scope of their employment, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.McGrath  2/5/2019 3/26/2019 2019-Ohio-1066
Jackson v. Dept. of Rehab. & Corr. 2015-00136JDNegligence; independent contractor; liability; res ipsa loquitur; magistrate; objections; Civ.R. 53. Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody and control of defendant. Plaintiff was injured when a piece of HVAC ductwork being installed by an independent contractor fell from a cart and hit plaintiff in the head. The cart was loaded by inmate workers directed to assist the independent contractors. Plaintiff filed this negligence action against defendant. The issues of liability and damages were bifurcated, and the case proceeded to trial before the magistrate on the issue of liability. The magistrate issued a decision recommending judgment for the defendant. The magistrate found that the negligence of the independent contractor could not be imputed to defendant, and defendant did not breach a duty of care to plaintiff. Plaintiff objected to the decision on four grounds: First, plaintiff objected that the magistrate erred in finding that the independent contractor was responsible for directing inmate workers how to load and move carts. The court overruled this objection, finding that the independent contractor contractually assumed the duty for overseeing labor and maintaining safety and the contractor’s employees were solely responsible for directing the work. Second, plaintiff objected that the magistrate erred in not finding that defendant was responsible to exercise reasonable care to protect inmates. The court overruled this objection, finding that the magistrate accurately set forth the duty defendant owes to inmates, but recognized that the defendant is liable for the action of independent contractors it does not control. Third, plaintiff objected that the magistrate erred in not applying the doctrine of res ipsa to draw an inference of negligence in this case. The court overruled this objection, finding that plaintiff failed to establish hat defendant had exclusive control of the ductwork that caused the injury. Finally, plaintiff objected that the magistrate’s decision is contrary to law and against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court overruled this last objection, finding that the magistrate properly applied the law and the evidence supporting the decision was competent and credible. The court ultimately adopted the magistrate’s recommendation.McGrath  2/4/2019 3/26/2019 2019-Ohio-1065
Brown v. Corr. Reception Ctr. 2018-00021JDEmployment; employment discrimination; retaliation; summary judgment; Civ.R. 56. Plaintiff was a healthcare worker employed by a private healthcare employment/placement agency. Plaintiff’s employer placed her in a position at defendant’s facility. Plaintiff alleges that defendant discriminated against her on the basis of race and retaliated against plaintiff for filing incident reports about discriminatory conduct by plaintiff’s supervisor. Defendant moved for summary judgment on the grounds that (1) plaintiff was not an employee of defendant, but rather an independent contractor placed by a private agency; and (2) plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation. The court rejected defendant’s argument that plaintiff was not defendant’s employee. The fact that defendant set plaintiff’s work schedule and supervised her daily work created a scenario in which reasonable minds could differ as to whether defendant exercised a sufficient degree of control over plaintiff’s work to subject defendant to employer liability. However, the court granted summary judgment to defendant on the ground that plaintiff’s evidence failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation. With respect to discrimination, the court found that plaintiff failed to establish that she suffered an adverse employment action or that she was treated less favorably than similarly situated employees or was replaced by a person outside of her protected class. Plaintiff voluntarily quit her position, was not replaced by a person outside of her protected class, and could not show a similarly situated employee treated more favorably. With respect to retaliation, the court determined that most of plaintiff’s activities were unrelated to suspected illegal discriminatory actions by defendant, and plaintiff further failed to establish a causal relationship between her activities and the end of her employment relationship with defendant.McGrath  2/4/2019 3/26/2019 2019-Ohio-1067
McNatt v. Dept. of Job & Family Servs. 2018-01256PQCore Terms: public record; court of claims; R.C. 2743.75; R.C. 149.43; moot; filing fee; damages. Overview: Requester sought records related to a job position within respondent agency. Respondent initially denied records pertaining to interview questions and responses, but provided the records during litigation. Requester sought recovery of his filing fee, lost wages, parking fees, mileage, and statutory damages. The special master found that the only claim in the complaint was moot and requester had not established eligibility for recovery of his filing fee, costs associated with the action, or other award. Neither party filed objections. Outcome: The court found no error of law or other defect on the face of the special master’s decision and adopted the report and recommendation as its own.McGrath  1/31/2019 2/12/2019 2019-Ohio-475
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