Medina County Courthouse

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ninth District Opinions Released on June 10, 2013

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Appellate District released eight opinions on June 10, 2013. Below are short summaries of the opinions. 

Vestige, Ltd. v. Mills, 2013-Ohio-2379 reversed a decision of the Medina County Common Pleas Court granting a directed verdict to the plaintiff on the defendant's counterclaim. The defendant had retained the plaintiff to perform a forensic examination of the computer belonging to the client of the defendant. The client was charged with possessing pornography involving minors on this computer. The plaintiff is a firm that offers computer forensic services. The defendant's client got convicted. The defendant believed that the plaintiff had breached its contract with the defendant by not providing its services in a competent and professional manner. 

During the presentation of the counterclaim the defendant did not call an expert witness. This led to the trial court granting the plaintiff's motion for a directed verdict. The appellate court reversed the trial court on the grounds that the allegations being made by the defendant could be understood by a lay jury and no expert witness was needed. 

Stanfield v. United States Steel Corp., 2013-Ohio-2378 reversed a decision from the Lorain County Common Pleas Court granting a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant. The case involved whether the plaintiff was discharged for filing a workers' compensation claim. The Court of Appeals found that there were issues of material fact about whether the firing of the plaintiff was in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation and whether the employer's conduct was extreme and outrageous. The appellate court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. 

Rodriguez v. S. Star Corp., 2013-Ohio-2377 affirmed a decision of the Medina County Common Pleas Court overruling a decision of the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission that denied unemployment benefits to the plaintiff. The plaintiff was an employee of the defendant who was assigned to work with a crew chief that had repeatedly used racial slurs around the plaintiff. The plaintiff asked to be reassigned to other crews, but the supervisor refused even though he had honored such requests in the past. The plaintiff then quit. The UCRC found that he had quit without just cause. The trial court reversed that decision and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. 

State v. Smetana, 2013-Ohio-2376 affirmed a decision of the Lorain County Common Pleas court that convicted the defendant of one count of sexual battery and one count of sexual imposition. The defendant appealed arguing that the trial judge had been biased against him, that his conviction was based on insufficient evidence, and that it was also against the manifest weight of the evidence. The Court of Appeals rejected all three assignments of error. 

State v. Jones, 2013-Ohio-2375 reversed a decision of the Lorain County Common Pleas Court that suppressed evidence seized as the result of a traffic stop. The trial court held that the officer did not have probable cause to make a warrantless search of the trunk of the defendant's car following the stop. The State argued that the search was justified on the basis of the automobile exception to the warrant requirement. The Ohio Highway Patrol trooper who stopped the vehicle smelled an odor of marijuana. He found marijuana "shake" in the passenger compartment of the car, but believed that the shake was not the source of the odor. He searched the trunk and found more drugs, including marijuana and heroin. By a 2 to 1 vote the Court of Appeals upheld the search. The decision contains an interesting dissent by Judge Belfance in which she reviews the history of the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment. 

Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. Horn, 2013-Ohio-2374 reversed of decision of the Lorain County Common Pleas Court that granted a summary judgment to Wells Fargo in a foreclosure action. The appellate court reversed and remanded with directions to dismiss the case without prejudice. The dismissal order was based on the recent Ohio Supreme Court case of Fed. Home Loan Mtge. Corp. v. Schwartzwald, 134 Ohio St.3d 13, 2012-Ohio-5017, ¶ 40.

Committe v. Rudolchick, 2013-Ohio-2373 reversed a decision granting a motion for summary judgment to a defendant in a negligent entrustment lawsuit. The Court of Appeals reversed because the documents cited in support of the motion were not evidentiary material required by Civ. R. 56. The Court pointed out that in the Ninth District a trial court may rely on documents that are not evidence as that term is used in Civ. R. 56. Here, though, the plaintiff objected to such documents and the trial court should not have considered them. Without the contested documents, the defendant did not establish that there was no issue of material fact. 

Artim v. Lorain Cty. Bd. of Dev. Disabilities, 2013-Ohio-2372 both reversed and affirmed a decision of the Lorain County Common Pleas Court that had granted motions for summary judgment filed by the Disabilities Board and an employee of the Board. The lawsuit involved injuries received by a child of the plaintiffs' while she was undergoing therapy at a facility run by the Board. The appellate court found that the trial court properly granted summary judgment to the Board on the basis of sovereign immunity but that it erred when it granted summary judgment to the employee. The appellate court wrote that there was a material issue of fact as to whether the employee's acts were wanton and malicious. Judge Carr dissented because she found that the employee as well as the Board should have had their motions for summary judgment granted.  

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