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Case CaptionCase No.Topics and IssuesAuthorCitation / CountyDecidedPostedWebCite
Velocity Constr. Servs., L.L.C. v. Ohio State Univ. 2018-01500JDConstruction; contract; fraud; discovery; Civ.R. 36; summary judgment; Civ.R. 56; referee; Civ.R. 53. Plaintiff/counter-defendant is a construction company contracted by defendant/counter-plaintiff, a state university, to perform building renovation projects. The contracts were terminated before the projects were completed. The construction company sued for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, and the university countersued for breach of contract, breach of express warranties, and fraud. The university moved for summary judgment on its claim for fraud. Due to the construction company’s failure to respond to the university’s request for admissions during discovery, the referee deemed certain facts admitted pursuant to Civ.R. 53. Based on these admissions, the referee recommended the university be granted summary judgment on the liability portion its fraud claim. The referee found the contractor liable for fraud because it knowingly made material misrepresentations to the university about the level of progress and quality of materials used on the projects. The university reasonably and justifiably relied on these misrepresentations. The reliance caused injury to the university, which was left with partially-finished projects and at least one building where the construction company installed a lower quality of materials than the contract called for.Crawford  7/29/2019 8/15/2019 2019-Ohio-3267
Anderson v. Dept. of Rehab. & Corr. 2018-00469JDNegligence; personal injury; reasonable care; duty; notice; Civ.R. 53; magistrate. Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody and control of defendant. Plaintiff brought this action for negligence after slipping and falling on a sidewalk at a correctional institution. Following a trial, the magistrate recommended judgment in favor of the defendant. The magistrate found that defendant did not breach its duty of reasonable care to plaintiff. The evidence showed that defendant treated the sidewalk with salt during the early morning when there was precipitation and below-freezing temperatures. There was no evidence that the sidewalks were slippery or otherwise hazardous before plaintiff fell in the late afternoon. The magistrate found that, to the extent the sidewalk became slippery before plaintiff’s fall, the slippery condition developed shortly before the fall and defendant did not have actual or constructive notice of the condition. To the extent plaintiff believed he received inadequate medical treatment after he fell, the magistrate found that plaintiff did not allege a medical negligence claim and did not present the expert testimony necessary to sustain such a claim.VanSchoyck  7/15/2019 8/15/2019 2019-Ohio-3266
Clark v. Dept. of Transp. 2015-00099JDWrongful death; negligence; duty; contractor; inherently dangerous work; summary judgment; Civ.R. 56; genuine issue of material fact. Plaintiff is the administrator of the estate of decedent. Decedent was an employee of a contractor contracted by the state to perform a bridge demolition project. Decedent was killed when part of the bridge collapsed during the demolition work. Plaintiff brought this negligence and wrongful death action against the state. The court granted summary judgment to the state. The court found that state did not owe a duty of care to decedent because decedent was the employee of a contractor performing inherently dangerous work and the state did not actively participate in the work. The court found that the contractor had sole control over and bore sole responsibility for the demolition plan and the means of methods and demolition. Expert reports to the contrary did not create a genuine issue of material fact because the reports contained only legal conclusions and conclusory contradictions of the state’s evidence that were not supported or corroborated by any outside evidence.McGrath  7/10/2019 8/15/2019 2019-Ohio-3264
Recker & Assocs. Co. v. State Dental Bd. 2019-00381PQCore Terms: public record; court of claims; R.C. 2743.75; R.C. 149.43; privilege; trial preparation; attorney work product; solely; specifically. Overview: Requester sought disclosure of questions and responses from a consumer survey commissioned by respondent. Respondent asserted that the survey contents were prepared in part to defend anticipated litigation, and was also attorney work product. The special master found that for the trial preparation privilege, materials need only be prepared specifically, not solely, in conscious and reasonable anticipation of trial. The special master found the evidence showed survey documents were specifically prepared for that purpose. However, the special master found insufficient evidence that the survey questions were prepared by or in consultation with counsel for respondent so as to reflect the attorney’s mental processes. The same materials were therefore not shown to be subject to the common law attorney work product privilege. The special master recommended that the court deny the claim for production of records.Clark  7/5/2019 8/15/2019 2019-Ohio-3268
Lill v. Ohio State Univ. 2015-00387JDContract; breach; damages. Plaintiff was formerly employed as a professor by defendant, a state university. Plaintiff was denied tenure by defendant. The denial triggered a final year of employment, after which plaintiff’s employment was terminated. Plaintiff filed this action for breach of contract. The court found that defendant breached its employment contract with plaintiff by conducting an improper tenure review. The court ordered defendant to conduct a proper tenure review. After the proper tenure review also resulted in the denial of tenure, plaintiff was awarded damages for the period of time between the end of her employment and the completion of the proper tenure review. The parties stipulated to the amount of damages.Crawford  7/2/2019 8/15/2019 2019-Ohio-3265
Tye-Smiley v. Ohio State Univ. Wexner Med. Ctr. 2016-00542JDWrongful death; survivorship; medical malpractice; standard of care; causation; magistrate; Civ.R. 53. Plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a decedent who suffered a pulmonary embolism six days after he was discharged from defendant’s hospital. The pulmonary embolism ultimately led to decedent’s death, and plaintiff brought a wrongful death and survivorship action under a theory of medical malpractice. Upon considering the testimony of fact witnesses and expert witnesses, the magistrate determined that plaintiff did not prove medical malpractice by a preponderance of the evidence. The magistrate found that defendant’s employees did not breach the standard of care when treating decedent, as their treatment was consistent with decedent’s symptoms and test results. The magistrate further found that plaintiff failed to prove that the alleged breach of the standard of care—the failure to order an ultrasound to test for deep vein thrombosis—proximately caused decedent’s death. The magistrate found insufficient evidence to establish that deep vein thrombosis would have been detected at any point during decedent’s hospitalization.Van Schoyck  6/24/2019 7/22/2019 2019-Ohio-2956
Geauga Cty. Probate/Juvenile Court v. Geauga Cty. Aud. Office 2019-00459PQRequester, a court, sought copies of checks issued by respondent auditor. When the copies were not provided, this enforcement action was filed in the name of the court. However, requester cited no express statutory authority authorizing the court to bring the action. The special master recommended that the court of claims dismiss the action based on the Ohio rule that "Absent express statutory authority, a court can neither sue nor be sued in its own right." 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  6/13/2019 7/5/2019 2019-Ohio-2762
Fhiaras v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr. 2017-00970JDVoluntary dismissal; Civ.R. 41; battery; defense of justification; exercise of lawful authority; excessive force; inmate property; magistrate; Civ.R. 53. Plaintiff inmate claimed that defendant’s employee guard committed battery upon him and that defendant was negligent in losing his property. During the trial before a magistrate, plaintiff attempted to voluntarily dismiss his case. His motion for voluntary dismissal was denied, however, because a plaintiff may only voluntarily dismiss his case under Civ.R. 41(A)(1)(a) before the trial has commenced. Plaintiff’s battery claim stems from an interaction with a corrections officer in his cell. According to plaintiff, he walked into his cell and, without warning, he was assaulted by a corrections officer. The corrections officer testified that he was performing an inspection of plaintiff’s cell when plaintiff returned. The officer twice ordered plaintiff to leave the cell. After plaintiff refused to obey the second order, the officer deployed a short burst of pepper spray. The magistrate found that the corrections officer was more credible than plaintiff. In a civil action for battery, defendant has the burden of proving a defense of justification, such as the exercise of lawful authority. A corrections officer may use less-than-deadly force against an inmate when necessary to control or subdue an inmate who refuses to obey prison rules, regulations, or orders. The magistrate found that the corrections officer’s use of pepper spray to obtain plaintiff’s compliance was reasonable and an appropriate use of force. The magistrate thus recommended judgment in favor of defendant on plaintiff’s battery claim. Regarding plaintiff’s property claim, plaintiff was required to place his property in a 2.4 cubic foot box, which the defendant would then keep in its possession. Some of plaintiff’s property did not fit in the box and was required to be discarded. The box subsequently could not be located. Plaintiff requested damages to compensate him for both the discarded and the lost property. Inmates may not possess more than 2.4 cubic feet of combined state and personal property. Plaintiff’s property that did not fit in the box was thus contraband, and the state was not liable for contraband property. The magistrate recommended judgment in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $75, to compensate plaintiff for the loss of plaintiff’s non-contraband property.Renick  6/13/2019 7/24/2019 2019-Ohio-2992
Myers v. Dept. of Taxation 2018-01207PQOn objections to a special master’s report and recommendation, the court overruled requester’s objection, and sustained respondent’s and intervening respondents’ objections. The court concluded that respondent had met its burden to prove that requested tax records fell squarely within the exception contained in R.C. 149.43(A)(1)(v). The court modified the report and recommendation and did not adopt a recommendation that certain requested tax filings should be redacted and produced.McGrath  6/11/2019 7/5/2019 2019-Ohio-2760
Holloman v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr. 2017-00448JDNegligence; personal injury; damages; pain and suffering; objections; Civ.R. 53. Plaintiff is a former inmate who was injured while in the custody and control of defendant. Defendant admitted liability, and the case went to trial before the magistrate on the issue of damages. Defendant objected to the damage award recommended by the magistrate for plaintiff’s pain and suffering. Defendant argued that the amount of damages recommended was higher than the amount awarded by the court in comparable cases. The court overruled the objection and adopted the decision of the magistrate. The court noted that comparable cases may serve as a point of reference for calculating pain and suffering damages, but each case must ultimately be evaluated on its own particular facts. The court found that the magistrate properly considered the specific facts of this case and calculated damages appropriately. The court further found that this case was distinguishable from the comparison cases cited by defendant, because the plaintiff in this case had suffered the exacerbation of a pre-existing condition.McGrath  6/10/2019 7/22/2019 2019-Ohio-2957