Medina County Courthouse

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ninth Appellate District Opinions for April 15, 2013

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Appellate District released two opinions on Monday, April 15, 2013. The opinions were both civil cases. One was from Lorain County and the other was from Wayne County. 

The Lorain County decision was Hart v. Ridge Tool Co., 2013-Ohio-1487. Mr. Hart filed a worker's compensation claim based on depression and opiate dependence that followed an industrial injury. Ridge Tool is a self-insured employer under the Worker's Compensation Act. The two claims eventually came to the Lorain County Common Pleas Court. At some point the parties informed the Court that they had reached an agreement. The Lorain County Common Pleas Court then entered judgment on both claims, holding that Mr. Hart could no longer pursue his claims. 

Mr. Hart then filed a pro se appeal. Although the Court of Appeals conceded that his argument was not "easily discernible", Mr. Hart cited to R.C. 4123.65 (D), which, "regulates the settlement of workers’ compensation claims by providing for administrative review to protect parties against settlements that are ‘clearly unfair’ or that constitute ‘gross miscarriage[s] of justice." That section also applies to common pleas courts as well as the administrative bodies. See Gibson v. Meadow Gold Dairy, 88 Ohio St.3d 201, 202-203 (2000). 

When there is an settlement between a worker and a self-insured employee, R.C. 4123.65 (C) mandates that each party has 30 days from the date that the settlement is signed to withdrew from the settlement. In this case the trial court entered judgment before the 30 day period expired and there was no evidence that Mr. Hart had signed the settlement agreement. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings. 

The Wayne County case, State v. Ross, 2013-Ohio-1488, was an appeal from the Wayne County Municipal Court which had convicted Mr. Ross of a marked lanes violation and a seatbelt violation. Originally Mr. Ross had also been charged with driving while under the influence, but those charges were dismissed and there was a bench trial on the remaining two violations. 

Mr. Ross argued on appeal that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of the marked lanes violation. The opinion contains a discussion of the Ninth Appellate District's analysis of the elements of R.C. 4511.33. In that opinion the following language appears:

"Accordingly, we continue to hold that, in order to establish a violation of R.C. 
4511.33, the State must present evidence “that the driver of a vehicle moving either between lanes of traffic or completely out of a lane of traffic failed to ascertain the safety of such movement prior to making the movement.” Barner, 2004-Ohio-5950, at ¶ 14. In the instant matter, the State failed to present any evidence of the foregoing." 

The opinion was a 2-1 decision, with Judge Whitmore dissenting. Both the majority opinion and the dissenting opinion discuss the application of the Ohio Supreme Court decision of State v. Mays, 119 Ohio St.3d 406, 2008-Ohio-4539. That decision involved the constitutionality of a stop based on an observed marked lanes violation, but Judge Whitmore argued that the language of the opinion supports the view that while there are circumstances that allow a motorist to go outside the marked lane of travel, being tired is not one of them. She then goes on to state that since that was the reason given by Mr. Ross for traveling outside of marked lanes, she would affirm the conviction. 

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