Medina County Courthouse

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Ninth District Opinions Released April 29, 2013

Last week the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Appellate District released 14 opinions. Three were released on April 29, 2013 and 11 were released on May 1, 2013. The opinions released on April 29, 2013 were:

In reC.R., 2013-Ohio-1724 was an appeal by the State from a decision of the Medina County Juvenile Court granting a motion to suppress. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. In the opinion there is an interesting discussion of whether the Ohio Rules of Evidence apply to hearings on motions to suppress evidence.

The Court of Appeals opinion noted that under Evid. R. 101 (C) (1) and Evid. R. 104 (A) a trial court is not bound by the Rules of Evidence when making preliminary decisions regarding the admissibility of evidence except with respect to privileges. The State argued in its appeal that since the Juvenile Court was not bound by the Rules of Evidence it erred in not admitting hearsay evidence in the form of one officer testifying as to what another office had told him.

The Court of Appeals noted that while the Rules of Evidence don't apply in a suppression hearing, hearsay evidence is still regarded by courts as unreliable. The Juvenile Court held that the State hadn't met its burden. Thus, the Court of Appeals reasoned that if the Juvenile Court would have allowed the hearsay evidence, it wouldn't have changed the Juvenile Court's ruling that the State hadn't met its burden.

The Court of Appeals also overruled other assignments of error raised by the State. The opinion was a 2 to 1 opinion. Judge Hensal wrote the Court's opinion and Judge Whitmore filed a opinion that concurred in part and dissented in part.

McMillanv. Global Freight Mgt., Inc., 2013-Ohio-1725 was an appeal by the Plaintiff from a decision of the Lorain County Common Pleas Court. The decision appealed from was a decision granting a motion for summary judgment in a wrongful termination lawsuit. The Plaintiff contended that his termination from employment by the Defendant was due to his filing a claim for Worker's Compensation. The issue raised on appeal was whether there is a common law claim for wrongful discharge for filing a worker's compensation claim in addition to bringing a cause of action under R.C. 4123.90.

The Court of Appeals held in a decision that was written by Judge Moore that a common law cause of action for the tort of violating public policy does not exist in Ohio. In reaching its conclusion the Court of Appeals relied on a decision from the Ohio Supreme Court and distinguished a decision that was cited by the Plaintiff. The decision of the Lorain County Common Pleas Court was affirmed.

Schmuckerv. Kurzenberger, 2013-Ohio-1726 was an appeal by both parties of a decision by the Wayne County Common Pleas Court granting a motion for summary judgment filed by the Wayne Mutual Insurance Company. The Plaintiffs appealed the decision granting the motion on one ground and the insurance company appealed the part of the decision that denied the motion on another ground.

The issue in the appeal was whether there was coverage for an automobile accident that ended up killing a young woman who was the daughter of a woman who, along with her husband, had a policy issued by Wayne Mutual. When the accident happened the young woman was a passenger in a car driven by her father.  Her father had drove the car left of the center line. His daughter grabbed the wheel and pulled the car back. When she did that her father overcorrected and lost control of the vehicle.

The trial court found, and the Court of Appeals agreed, that when the accident took place the daughter was not using the car as she was permitted. This is known as a "unpermitted use exclusion." The Court of Appeals also found that the trial court was correct in holding that the "regular use exclusion" also excluded coverage.

The Insurance Company appealed the trial court's decision not to exclude coverage under an "intentional act exclusion." The Court of Appeals ruled that its ruling on the two assignments of error raised by the Plaintiffs rendered the issue of "intentional act exclusion" moot and declined to address it.

The decision was a 2-1 decision. Judge Carr authored the opinion and Judge Whitmore concurred while Judge Moore wrote a dissent.

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