Justia Ohio Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the orders of the Public Utilities Commission finding that intervening appellee Ohio Edison Company's 2017 earnings were not significantly excessive, holding that the Commission's decision to exclude revenue resulting from Ohio Edison's Distribution Modernization Rider (DMR) from the earnings test was not reasonable.Electric distribution utilities that opt of provide service under an electric security plan must undergo an annual earnings review by Commission. If the Commission finds that the plan resulted in significantly excessive earnings compared to similar companies, the utility must return the excess to its customers. The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel appealed from the Commission's orders finding that Edison's 2017 earnings were not significantly excessive. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission's exclusion from the earnings test revenue resulting from the DMR, which was approved as part of Edison's electric security plan, was not reasonable. View "In re Determination of Existence of Significantly Excessive Earnings for 2017 Under the Electric Security Plan of Ohio Edison Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying the request brought by Manor Care, Inc., a self-insured employer, for a writ of mandamus ordering the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to reimburse it for lump-sum permanent-total-disability (PTD) compensation payments, holding that Manor Care did not establish a clear legal right to relief.Manor Care made lump-sum payments under protest to two injured workers in order to correct its long-term underpayment of their permanent-total-disability (PTD) compensation. Manor Care then requested reimbursement from the Disabled Workers' Relief Fund, contending that Manor Care's underpayment of PTD compensation should be offset by the Bureau's corresponding overpayment of relief-fund benefits to the same employees, for which Manor Care had reimbursed the Bureau as part of its annual assessments. The Bureau denied the request. Manor Care then filed this action alleging that the Bureau abused its discretion by requiring Manor Care to, in effect, double-pay the purported PTD underpayment to the employees and refusing to reimburse Manor Care for the PTD underpayment amount. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Manor Care identified no authority granting a clear legal right to the relief it sought. View "State ex rel. Manor Care, Inc. v. Bureau of Workers' Compensation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the court of claims ordering, subject to certain redactions, the public release of a video from an exterior courthouse security camera that captured the shooting of a judge, holding that the video was not exempt from release as a public record.The court of claims determined that competent evidence had not been presented to establish that the video was a "security record" under Ohio Rev. Code 149.433(A)(1) and was therefore exempt from release. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the video was a security record that was exempt from public disclosure. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the surveillance video did not fall squarely within the security-record exemption. View "Welsh-Huggins v. Jefferson County Prosecutor's Office" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a common pleas court has subject-matter jurisdiction to determine whether an easement granting a public utility the right to trim, cut and remove trees, limbs, underbrush or other obstructions permits the public utility to use herbicide to control vegetation within the easement.At issue was whether a public utility may remove vegetation from an easement by use of herbicide. The court of common pleas dismissed this matter as falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) this case was not within the exclusion jurisdiction of the PUCO and may be heard and decided by the court of common pleas; and (2) the court of appeals went beyond the narrow issue presented on appeal when it examined the merits of the case and determined that the language of the easements was ambiguous. View "Coder v. Ohio Edison Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Relator's request for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel Respondent to permit him to inspect certain public records, holding that Relator failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was entitled to a writ of mandamus.Relator, an inmate at the Toledo Correctional Institution, send a public-records request to Respondent, the warden's administrative assistant, asking to inspect two use-of-force reports and a review of a particular use-of-force incident. Respondent refused to permit Relator to inspect the requested records due to concerns over safety and security. Relator then brought this action. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) where Relator did not refute the evidence that he presented a security risk, Relator did not establish his entitlement to a writ of mandamus; and (2) Relator was not entitled to statutory damages or court costs. View "State ex rel. McDougald v. Sehlmeyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) and the court of appeals affirming the decision of the tax commissioner that gross receipts earned by Defender Security Company between January 2011 and December 2013 were Ohio-taxable receipts under the commercial activity tax (CAT) law, holding that Appellant was entitled to relief on its statutory claim.The receipts at issue consisted of payments made to Defender by ADT Security Services, Inc. Defender filed a refund claim seeking the return of $73,334 for commercial activity tax paid on gross receipts for approximately three years. The tax commission denied the refund claim. The BTA agreed with the tax commissioner's conclusion that the proper situs of ADT funding should be Ohio and affirmed. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under Ohio Rev. Code 5751.033(I), the situs of ADT funding receipts is ADT's physical location outside Ohio. The Court remanded the case to the tax commissioner with instructions that he issue refunds in the amount set forth in the refund claim, plus interest. View "Defender Security Co. v. McClain" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court adopted the recommendation of the master commissioner and granted Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the amount of his pretrial bond, holding that the master commissioner properly stated the facts and applied the law.Petitioner was in jail awaiting trial on multiple charges when he filed his habeas petition. The Supreme Court referred the matter to a master commissioner to conduct a hearing to determine whether Petitioner was being held unlawfully due to an excessive bond. The master commissioner concluded that the $1,000,000 bond on which Petitioner was being held was excessive and recommended modifying the bail to $200,000. The Supreme Court adopted the recommendation and granted the petition for writ of habeas corpus but with certain additional nonfinancial conditions. View "Mohamed v. Eckelberry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate an award of medical-service reimbursement to Diana Garringer for a right reverse total-shoulder arthroplasty, holding that the Commission did not abuse its discretion.Garringer injured her right shoulder while working for Omni Manor. The next year, the Commission granted Garringer's request for medical-service reimbursement for a reverse total-shoulder arthroplasty. Omni Manor requested a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to vacate its order granting the reimbursement request. The court of appeals denied the request. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission correctly applied the standard set forth in State ex rel. Miller v. Industrial Commission, 643 N.E.2d 113 (Ohio 1994); and (2) the Commission did not abuse its discretion in considering certain evidence. View "State ex rel. Omni Manor, Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to compel the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and its director (collectively, DRC) to revise their calculation of Charles Fraley's prison sentence, holding that Fraley was entitled to a writ of mandamus compelling DRC to correct its records.In this case, the sentencing court imposed an aggregate sentence of ten years. However, DRC computed Fraley's sentence to be an aggregate term of thirteen years. In his petition for a writ of mandamus Fraley argued that DRC was under a clear legal duty to follow the sentencing judge's entries. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) Fraley did not have an alternative remedy that would preclude the possibility of a writ of mandamus; and (2) DRC had a clear legal duty to carry out the sentence that the trial court imposed. View "State ex rel. Fraley v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal denying Appellant's petition for a writ of mandamus and granted a limited writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its order denying Appellant's request for temporary total disability (TTD) compensation, holding that the order did not comply with State ex rel. Noll v. Industrial Commission, 567 N.E.2d 245 (Ohio 1991).The Commission denied Appellant's TTD compensation request because it found that Appellant had violated his employer's drug-free-workplace policy, thereby voluntarily abandoning his employment. Appellant sought a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to conduct a new hearing, asserting that the Commission's order failed to set forth the evidence that the Commission relied on to conclude that his failed drug test was the reason for his termination. The Supreme Court granted a limited writ, holding that the order was deficient because it did not specifically state what evidence the hearing officer relied upon to conclude that Appellant was terminated for violating his employer's drug-free workplace policy, thereby voluntarily abandoning his employment. View "State ex rel. Merritt v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law