Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the Industrial Commission and granted Jackson Tube Service Inc.’s request for a writ of mandamus compelling the commission to vacate its order that granted Chad Thompson’s application for an additional award due to the violation of a specific safety requirement (VSRR) and to issue an order denying the VSSR application, holding that there was no evidence to support the commission’s decision to grant the VSSR award. Thompson’s workers’ compensation claim was allowed for a femur fracture. Thompson also filed an application for a VSSR award. The commission granted the VSSR application and rejected Jackson Tube’s argument that it was impossible to comply with the specific safety requirement. On appeal, Jackson Tube argued that the court of appeals erred when it rejected Jackson Tube’s impossibility defense. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the commission abused its discretion in granting the VSSR award because it relied on speculative testimony regarding the existence of alternative means of performance proved nonexistent and that the evidence demonstrated that Jackson Tube established the defense of impossibility. View "State ex rel. Jackson Tube Service, Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

by
In determining whether John Klein was entitled to continued temporary-total-disability compensation where he voluntarily left his position of employment for reasons unrelated to his workplace injury, the Supreme Court overruled State ex. Rel. Reitter Stucco, Inc. v. Industrial Commission, 881 N.E. 2d 861 (Ohio 2008), and State ex rel. OmniSource Corp. v. Industrial Commission, 865 N.E.2d 41 (Ohio 2007), and applied the longstanding principles of voluntary abandonment to Klein’s claim for temporary-total-disability compensation. On Klein’s request for mandamus, the court of appeals determined that the Industrial Commission of Ohio abused its discretion in determining that Klein voluntarily abandoned his employment at Precision Excavating & Grading Company for reasons unrelated to his workplace injury without determining whether Klein was medically capable of returning to work. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and denied the writ of mandamus, holding that when a workers’ compensation claimant voluntarily removes himself from his former position of employment for reasons unrelated to his workplace injury, he is not eligible for temporary-total-disability compensation even if he remains disabled at the time of his separation from employment. View "State ex rel. Klein v. Precision Excavating & Grading Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus ordering the Board of Beavercreek Township Trustees and its members (collectively, the Board) to rescind two resolutions setting the annual salaries for two assistants to the Beavercreek Township Fiscal Officer and to consider a new compensation proposal submitted by the Fiscal Officer. The Supreme Court held (1) Ohio Rev. Code 507.021(A) authorized the Fiscal Officer to hire two assistants and to set compensation for those positions, subject to prior approval by the Board; (2) the Fiscal Officer’s request for a writ of mandamus compelling the Board to approve and fund the two assistant positions at the specific salaries proposed is denied because the Fiscal Officer did not demonstrate that the Board abused its discretion in denying her specific salary requests; but (3) the Board exceeded its authority when it adopted the resolutions setting the annual salaries for the two assistants. View "State ex rel. Beavercreek Township Fiscal Officer v. Graff" on Justia Law

by
This suit fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims, rather than the court of common pleas, because Plaintiff sought legal relief rather than equitable relief. This suit challenged the legality of fees that were incurred by some recipients of workers’ compensation benefits when accessing their benefits. In this appeal, however, the Supreme Court was required to determine only whether the suit was properly brought in the court of common pleas or whether it should have been brought in the Court of Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction over many suits against state entities such as the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff’s claim was equitable because it sought full payment of the benefit lawfully awarded to him by the Bureau, and therefore, the Court of Common Pleas had exclusive jurisdiction in the matter. View "Cirino v. Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a writ of mandamus that ordered the administrator of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (Bureau) to vacate the order of the administrator’s designee finding that Daily Services LLC was the successor to I-Force, LLC and was responsible for I-Force’s rights and obligations, holding that Daily Services failed to demonstrate that it was entitled to relief in mandamus. After Daily Services received from the Bureau an invoice for more than $3.48 million for I-Force’s unpaid premiums, it filed a protest. An adjudicating committee determined that Daily Services was the successor to I-Force under former Ohio Adm.Code 4123-17-02(C)(1). The administrator’s designee upheld the decision. The court of appeals, however, concluded that Daily Services did not “wholly succeed” the business operations of I-Force. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Bureau did not abuse its discretion when it determined that Daily Services wholly succeeded the business operations of I-Force even if it did not assume every customer, employee, or lease held by I-Force; and (2) the Bureau’s statutory obligation to safeguard the Workers’ Compensation Fund authorizes it to find that an employer is a “successor in interest” when that employer attempts to evade workers’ compensation liabilities. View "State ex rel. Daily Services, LLC v. Morrison" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its order allocating the cost of a permanent-total-disability award between two different employers and issue an amended order. Appellee filed an application for permanent-total-disability compensation based on three workers’ compensation claims for work-related injuries she received while working for two different employers. A staff hearing officer granted the application. Appellant, one of Appellee’s employers, filed this mandamus action challenging the Commission’s allocation of the cost of the award among the three claims. The court of appeals ordered the Commission to vacate the portion of the hearing officer’s order allocating the cost of the award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission abused its discretion by failing to explain the basis for the specific allocations of the award among the three claims. View "State ex rel. Penske Truck Leasing Co. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying the writ of mandamus sought by Appellant seeking to compel the Industrial Commission to vacate its order retroactively adjusting Appellant’s benefit rate. After Appellant was injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident he began receiving workers’ compensation benefits. After the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation discovered that Appellant’s benefit rates had been incorrectly calculated, it recalculated Appellant’s full weekly wage and average weekly wage. The Commission affirmed the Bureau’s order and instructed the Bureau to determine how much Appellant had previously been overpaid and to recoup that amount through reduction of his future benefits. The court of appeals concluded that the Commission had not abused its discretion in upholding the Bureau’s adjustment of Appellant’s benefit rate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to demonstrate a clear legal right to the relief requested or a clear legal duty on the part of the Commission to provide it. View "State ex rel. Witt v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

by
The definition of “claimant” for purposes of Ohio Rev. Code 4123.931(G) is any party who is eligible to receive compensation, medical benefits, or death benefits from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Further, a claimant becomes eligible at the time of the injury or death that occurred during the course of employment and remains eligible unless and until a determination that the claimant is not entitled to benefits has been made and has become final or, if no claim is filed, until the time allowed for filing a claim has elapsed. Loretta Verlinger, a benefits applicant, appealed the denial of her application to the Industrial Commission. During the pendency of the appeal, Verlinger settled claims with Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and Foremost Property and Casualty Insurance Company. The Commission subsequently allowed Verlinger’s claim. The trial court granted summary judgment for Verlinger, concluding that she was not a claimant pursuant to section 4123.931. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) Verlinger was a claimant at the time she settled with the insurance companies; and (2) Metropolitan and Foremost were jointly and severally liable to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, a statutory subrogee, for the full amount of its subrogation interest. View "Bureau of Workers' Compensation v. Verlinger" on Justia Law

by
In this case alleging breach of contract, fraud, retaliation, constructive discharge, and invasion of privacy, the Supreme Court held (1) in Ohio, punitive damages may not be awarded for a breach of contract; (2) a party to a contract does not breach the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing by seeking to enforce the agreement as written or by acting in accordance with its express terms, and the implied duty is not breached unless a specific obligation imposed by the contract is not met; (3) a release of liability is an absolute bar to a later action on any claim encompassed within it absent a showing of fraud, duress, or other wrongful conduct in procuring it, and a party must prove duress by clear and convincing evidence; (4) the prevention of performance doctrine is not a defense to a release of liability and therefore cannot be asserted as a defense to a release; and (5) a claimant cannot rely on predictions or projections that relate to future performance or that are made to third parties to establish a fraud claim. View "Lucarell v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
In 2005, Roark, a Sunesis laborer, was working alone at the bottom of a trench, when the trench collapsed, killing him. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation awarded Roark’s dependent children benefits. The dependents sought an additional award based on violations of specific safety requirements for sloping, shoring, and bracing. A hearing officer concluded that Roark’s death was the result of Sunesis’s failure to properly support the trench and ordered Sunesis to pay an additional award based on violations of Ohio Adm.Code 4123:1-3-13. On remand, a hearing officer issued factual findings based on photographs and testimony: Three sides of the trench were adequately shored. The fourth wall, which caved in on Roark, consisted of soil that Sunesis attempted to shore up by sloping the wall and inserting a steel plate above the slope. The hearing officer found no evidence that Roark disregarded instructions to work inside a large underground pipe. On rehearing, in 2012, a hearing officer identified the soil involved as soft material, Class C soil with groundwater, stating that Code Table 13-1 addresses the approximate angle of repose for sloping: The presence of groundwater requires special treatment. The commission, the Tenth District, and the Supreme Court of Ohio upheld the award. It was within the commission’s discretion to conclude that the trench was not properly shored or braced, exposing employees to the danger of moving ground and that failure to comply with the regulations proximately caused Roark’s death. View "Sunesis Construction Co. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law