Articles Posted in Ohio Supreme Court

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At issue in this case was Ohio Rev. Code 9.86, which provides immunity to state employees unless the employee acts manifestly outside the scope of employment, with malicious purpose, or in bad faith. Michael McNew visited the Ohio State University Medical Center (Center) complaining of a painful hemorrhoid, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. McNew consulted with Dr. Syed Husain, a faculty member who was also employed by the school's nonprofit medical-practice corporation, but neither a medical student nor a resident was present during the treatment. Four days after McNew was discharged, he died from an undiagnosed cerebral hemorrhage caused by thromboytopenia. Plaintiffs brought this action against the Center in the court of claims. Plaintiffs also filed a civil action against Husain in the common pleas court, which the court stayed pending a determination by the court of claims regarding Husain's immunity from suit. The court of claims concluded that Husain was immune from suit under section 9.86. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, in treating McNew, Husain served the interests of the Center and acted within the scope of employment. Therefore, Husain was entitled to personal immunity pursuant to section 9.86. View "Ries v. Ohio State Univ. Med. Ctr." on Justia Law

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The probate court appointed a guardian for Appellant, who was found to be indigent, and placed him in a secured nursing facility. After 120 days had elapsed since the appointment of the guardian for Appellant, Appellant requested a review of the guardianship to review the continued necessity of the guardianship. A guardianship-review hearing was scheduled, but the court did not appoint counsel to represent Appellant for the hearing. Appellant filed a motion for the appointment of counsel at court expense. The probate court stated that that the request to appoint counsel would be considered at the review hearing. Appellant subsequently filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus to compel the probate court to appoint counsel for him for the review hearing, and the court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court reversed and granted the writ of mandamus to compel the probate court to appoint counsel to represent him in the guardianship-review proceeding, holding that Appellant established his entitlement to the requested relief. View "State ex rel. McQueen v. Court of Common Pleas" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved three rulings in a medical-malpractice trial. Appellee suffered a stroke during brain surgery performed at Appellant, the Cleveland Clinic. Appellee sued the clinic, claiming its surgeon had struck a ventricle, thus causing the stroke. A verdict was entered for the clinic. The court of appeals found the trial court abused its discretion in (1) allowing the clinic to use demonstrative evidence recreating the surgery that was provided to Appellee's counsel ten minutes before the expert using it testified; (2) ordering counsel for Branch not to argue an inference that because the best piece of evidence was not saved, it must have been adverse to the clinic; and (3) instructing the jury that evidence of alternative medical approaches was not evidence of negligence. the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the jury verdict for the clinic, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in any of the rulings at issue. View "Branch v. Cleveland Clinic Found." on Justia Law

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Appellants were defendants in a tort action instituted by Appellees, executors of a decedent's estate. Appellees' complaint alleged, inter alia, negligence, violation of the Ohio Nursing Home Patients' Bill of Rights, and wrongful death. Appellants filed motions to bifurcate the trial to separate Appellees' claims for compensatory damages from their claims for punitive damages. The common pleas court denied the motions. The court of appeals dismissed Appellants' appeal for lack of a final, appealable order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in dismissing the appeal, as the trial court's order denying Appellants' motions to bifurcate the trial constituted a final, appealable order pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2505.02(B)(6). Remanded for application of Havel v. Villa St. Joseph. View "Flynn v. Fairview Vill. Ret. Cmty., Ltd." on Justia Law

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Paula Eastley, as the administrator of the estate of her son, Steven Hieneman, filed an amended complaint against Dr. Paul Volkman and Tri-State Healthcare, LLC, the clinic where Volkman practiced, and Denise Huffman, doing business as Tri-State Health Care. The jury found that Volkman's medical malpractice and Huffman's negligence had proximately caused Hieneman's death, and the trial court entered judgment in Eastley's favor. The court of appeals affirmed. Although two of the three judges on the court found that based on an ordinary negligence theory, the jury's verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence, a dissenting judge prevented a reversal by concluding that because Huffman had not renewed her motion for a directed verdict or filed a motion for new trial or for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, she had forfeited all but plain error review. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) when the evidence to be considered is in the court's record, motions are not required to challenge manifest weight of the evidence on appeal; and (2) in civil cases, the sufficiency of the evidence is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the weight of the evidence. Remanded for consideration of the issue based upon the appropriate standard. View "Eastley v. Volkman" on Justia Law

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Lisa Mullins, the widow and administrator of the estate of Charles Mullins, filed a complaint against Appellants, a doctor and a medical facility, alleging negligence in the treatment of Charles that resulted in his death. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the estate. The court of appeals remanded the matter, finding that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to instruct the jury on Lisa's alleged contributory negligence and denying Appellants' motion for a new trial. On remand, Lisa filed a complaint in the court of appeals for a writ of prohibition to prevent the judge sitting in the court of common pleas from retrying the issue of the medical negligence of Appellants at a second jury trial. The court of appeals granted the writ to prevent the judge from retrying the negligence issue in the case against Appellants. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and denied the writ, holding that the court erred in determining that a retrial of the negligence claim against Appellants patently and unambiguously violated the court's mandate in the prior appeal. View "State ex rel. Mullins v. Court of Common Pleas (Curran)" on Justia Law

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The Eighth District Court of Appeals certified a conflict between its decision in this case and a decision of the Tenth District Court of Appeals on the question of whether Ohio Rev. Code 2315.21(B), as amended by S.B. 80, was unconstitutional, in violation of the Ohio Constitution, because it was a procedural law that conflicted with Ohio R. Civ. P. 42(B). Section 2315.21(B) created a substantive right to bifurcation in tort actions when claims for compensatory and punitive damages had been asserted. The state Court of Appeals held that section 2315.21(B) was unconstitutional because it conflicted with Rule 24(B), in violation of the separation of powers required by the state Constitution, by purporting to "legislate a strictly procedural matter already addressed by the Civil Rules." The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, holding that section 2315.21(B) creates, defines, and regulates a substantive, enforceable right to separate stages of trial relating to the presentation of evidence for compensatory and punitive damages in tort actions and therefore takes precedence over Rule 42(B) and does not violate the Ohio Constitution, as it is a substantive law that prevails over a procedural rule.

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Employee was injured in an industrial accident in 1987. The last injury-related bill submitted to either self-insured Employer or its third-party administrator (collectively, Employer) was paid in 1997. In 2008, Employee asked Employer to authorize further treatment. Employer denied the request, relying on former Ohio Rev. Code 4123.52, under which claim inactivity in excess of ten years permanently closed a worker's compensation claim. In an effort to toll the statute, Employee revived an issue relating to a 1998 doctor's visit and requested a hearing on the payment of that outstanding bill. An Industrial Commission staff hearing officer ordered Employer to pay the outstanding bill. The court of appeals vacated the decision and directed the Commission to issue a new order denying payment of the bill. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission abused its discretion in ordering the bill to be paid because the visit related to a low-back condition that was not allowed in Employee's claim and there was no evidence establishing a potential connection between Employee's 1987 injury and his 1998 back symptoms.

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Patient filed an action seeking recovery for injuries following a medical procedure Doctor performed on him allegedly without his informed consent. The trial court granted a directed verdict in favor of Doctor. The district court reversed. At issue on appeal was whether a claimant must present expert testimony on each element of the cause of action for failure to obtain informed consent to establish a prima facie case. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the verdict of the trial court, holding (1) expert medical testimony is required to establish both the material risks and dangers involved with a medical procedure and that an undisclosed risk or danger actually materialized and proximately caused injury to the patient; (2) if a patient fails to present medical expert testimony that it is more likely than not that an undisclosed risk of a surgical procedure actually materialized and proximately caused injury, then a trial court may properly grant a directed verdict; and (3) because there was no evidence to support each element of Patient's informed-consent claim in this case, the trial court properly directed a verdict.