Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting Christina Neitzelt's request for a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its order disallowing an L4-L5 disc herniation as an allowed condition in Appellant's workers' compensation claim, holding that under the some evidence standard, the Commission did not abuse its discretion. After Neitzelt had back surgery the Commission granted her employer's request to disallow the L4-L5 disc herniation from Neitzelt's claim based on evidence arising from the surgery. The court of appeals concluded that the Commission's exercise of its continuing jurisdiction was untimely and therefore improper. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that some evidence before the Commission supported its conclusion that Neitzelt's employer established both new or changed circumstances and a mistake in fact. View "State ex rel. Neitzelt v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying the request of Gary Bisdorf's former employer, Navistar, Inc., for a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its award of permanent total disability (PTD) compensation to Bisdorf, holding that Navistar was not entitled to an extraordinary remedy in mandamus. In its complaint for a writ of mandamus Navistar asserted that the Commission had abused its discretion in several ways. The magistrate recommended that the court of appeals deny the writ. The court adopted the magistrate's recommendation. Navistar appealed and moved for oral argument. After briefing in the Supreme Court was complete, Bisdorf died. Navistar filed a motion to continue the case. The Supreme Court granted Navistar's motion to continue the case, affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, and denied Navistar's motion for oral argument, holding that Navistar did not make a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the Commission abused its discretion by entering an order not supported by evidence in the record. View "State ex rel. Navistar, Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a limited writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its decision denying the request of Paul Digiacinto for permanent total disability (PTD) compensation and to hold a new hearing on Digiacinto's PTD application, holding that the Tenth District erred in holding that the Commission's failure to mention an ALJ's earlier decision granting Digiacinto's request for social security disability benefits in its order was an abuse of discretion. In 2001, Digiacinto suffered a workplace injury. In 2003, an ALJ granted Digiacinto's request for social security disability benefits. In 2015, Digiacinto filed a third application for PTD compensation. The Commission denied the application, concluding that Digiacinto had voluntarily abandoned the workforce, rendering him ineligible for compensation. Digiacinto then brought this mandamus action seeking an order for the Commission to vacate its order denying his PTD application. The court of appeals granted a limited writ, holding that the Commission's failure to mention the ALJ's decision in its order was an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Commission was not required to discuss the ALJ's decision; and (2) the ALJ's decision was not key to the success or failure of the PTD application. View "State ex rel. Digiacinto v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's wrongful-termination-in-violation-of-public-policy claim, holding that Plaintiff's dismissal did not jeopardize the public policy identified by the trial court and that Plaintiff did not satisfy the jeopardy element of her wrongful-termination-in-violation-of-public-policy claim. Plaintiff alleged that her employer wrongfully terminated her employment because she had challenged the employer for failing accurately to report her earnings to the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation. The trial court dismissed the complaint, concluding that dismissing employees under such circumstances would not jeopardize the stated public policy manifested in the provisions of Ohio Rev. Code Chapter 4141 and that section 4141.27 sets forth an adequate remedy for violating the public policy embodied in the statute. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred by determining that Plaintiff could not satisfy the jeopardy element and that the statutory remedies contained in Chapter 4141 was insufficient to protect Plaintiff's interests. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the remedies in Chapter 4141 are sufficient to protect society's interest in the public policy that employers accurately report employees' pay and tips and the lack of a personal remedy for the dismissed employee does not jeopardize the stated public policy. View "House v. Iacovelli" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over which court has jurisdiction over an employer's claim against the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) for the reimbursement of alleged excessive premiums paid by the employer the Supreme Court held that the claim was a legal claim, not an equitable one, and therefore, the court of claims had exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The City of Cleveland filed a complaint in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas alleging that the BWC charged the City inflated premiums for workers' compensation insurance in order to make up for discounts the BWC provided other employers. The BWC filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the common pleas court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the lawsuit and that the court of claims had exclusive jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion and granted partial summary judgment to the City. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the City's claim sounded in law and must proceed through the court of claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction over legal claims against the BWC. View "City of Cleveland v. Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting Thomas Beyer's request for a writ of mandamus and ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its decision denying Beyer's request for an award under Ohio Rev. Code 4123.57 for the permanent partial loss of sight in his right eye, holding that a physician, not the commission, must determine the degree of a claimant's impairment. In denying Beyer's request, the Commission found that the record did not contain sufficient medical evidence to substantiate it because Beyer did not present medical evidence of the percentage of vision lost. The court of appeals ordered the commission to vacate its decision and grant Beyer the requested award, finding that Beyer had provided the commission with sufficient evidence for the commission to determine the percentage of vision lost. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) claims involving medical determinations may be established only by submitting appropriate medical evidence; and (2) Beyer's evidence fell short because he did not present evidence of a physician's determination of the degree of his impairment. View "State ex rel. Beyer v. Autoneum North America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals denying Appellant's request for a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its order that terminated Appellant's permanent-total-disability (PTD) compensation and finding that Appellant had committed fraud while receiving PTD compensation, holding that the Commission abused its discretion in terminating Appellant's PTD compensation as of March 26, 2009. In denying Appellant's request, the court of appeals concluded that there was some evidence to support the Commission's finding that Appellant was engaged in sustained remunerative employment through activities he was performing at a raceway while receiving PTD compensation. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that even if the activities he was engaged in could be construed as work, he was not working as of the effective date of the Commission's termination of his benefits. The Supreme Court agreed and remanded for an appropriate date of termination of Appellant's PTD compensation. In all other respects, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals. View "State ex rel. Seibert v. Richard Cyr, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint alleging that his former employer wrongfully terminated him during his probationary period, holding that the civil-service statutes invoked by Plaintiff do not express a clear public policy providing the basis for a wrongful-discharge claim by a probationary employee. Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging that the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, at the direction of the governor's office, wrongfully terminated him during his probationary period. The trial court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Ohio Rev. Code 124. 27(B) and 124.56 do not express a clear public policy that provides the basis for a wrongful-discharge claim for civil service employees terminated during their probationary period, and therefore, the trial court correctly dismissed the complaint. View "Miracle v. Ohio Department of Veterans Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's judgment granting Plaintiff's motion to certify a class action, holding that when a class-certification case originates with a single named plaintiff and that plaintiff is not subject to an arbitration agreement that was entered into by unnamed putative class members, the defendant need not raise a specific argument referring or relating to arbitration in the defendant's answer. Plaintiff filed a class-action complaint against Defendant, his former employer. When Plaintiff moved to certify the case as a class action Defendant opposed the motion, asserting the defense of arbitration. The trial court granted the motion, concluding that Defendant waived any right of arbitration. The appellate court affirmed, determining that Defendant's failure to assert the arbitration defense in his answer or to seek to enforce the right to arbitration prior to its opposition to the certification was inconsistent with its right to assert the defense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because arbitration was not available as a defense at the time Defendant submitted its answer, Defendant could not waive a right to assert arbitration at that time; and (2) Defendant had no duty to raise an argument that Plaintiff failed to satisfy Civ.R. 23(A)'s typicality and adequacy requirements. View "Gembarski v. PartsSource, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the Industrial Commission did not abuse its discretion when it found that Alfredo Pacheco was medically able to perform light-duty work offered by his employer, Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) but reversed the conclusion that Alcoa did not make the light-duty job offer in good faith, holding that the court of appeals should not have determined whether the job was offered in good faith. Pacheco sustained an injury while working for Alcoa and received temporary total disability (TTD) compensation for approximately one year. Thereafter, Alcoa offered Pacheco light-duty employment. Pacheco accepted the offer and worked in the light-duty position for three weeks. Pacheco then submitted a renewed request for TTD compensation, which Alcoa denied. The Commission denied the request for TTD compensation based on a finding that the light-duty job was within Pacheco's medical restrictions. The court of appeals concluded that the evidence supported the Commission's finding but also concluded that the job offered by Alcoa was not offered in good faith. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that where the Commission did not address the question of whether the light-duty job offer was made in good faith, the court of appeals should not have made that determination. View "State ex rel. Pacheco v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law