Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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In 2005, Roark, a Sunesis laborer, was working alone at the bottom of a trench, when the trench collapsed, killing him. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation awarded Roark’s dependent children benefits. The dependents sought an additional award based on violations of specific safety requirements for sloping, shoring, and bracing. A hearing officer concluded that Roark’s death was the result of Sunesis’s failure to properly support the trench and ordered Sunesis to pay an additional award based on violations of Ohio Adm.Code 4123:1-3-13. On remand, a hearing officer issued factual findings based on photographs and testimony: Three sides of the trench were adequately shored. The fourth wall, which caved in on Roark, consisted of soil that Sunesis attempted to shore up by sloping the wall and inserting a steel plate above the slope. The hearing officer found no evidence that Roark disregarded instructions to work inside a large underground pipe. On rehearing, in 2012, a hearing officer identified the soil involved as soft material, Class C soil with groundwater, stating that Code Table 13-1 addresses the approximate angle of repose for sloping: The presence of groundwater requires special treatment. The commission, the Tenth District, and the Supreme Court of Ohio upheld the award. It was within the commission’s discretion to conclude that the trench was not properly shored or braced, exposing employees to the danger of moving ground and that failure to comply with the regulations proximately caused Roark’s death. View "Sunesis Construction Co. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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OP receives bales of recycled paper bound with wire, which are loaded onto a conveyor for transport into a pulper. An overhead saw cuts the wire. Most wires end up in the pulper, but some get wrapped around the conveyor's shafts and gears. For routine maintenance, the conveyor operator, who worked inside a control shack, switched the machine to maintenance mode. Ruckman and Horvath began following the company’s required lock-out/tag-out procedures and shut down the machine. They removed a guard to remove wires from chains and sprockets. After Horvath left the area, Ruckman, trying to remove wires that were stuck, unlocked and activated the conveyor and reached in. His hand was pulled into the machine. Ruckman was unable to reach the emergency-stop button. Ruckman’s workers’ compensation claim was allowed for left-hand amputation and replantation, major depressive disorder, and total loss of use of the hand. He obtained an additional award for violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR), alleging that OP had violated regulations that require guards and emergency-shut-off buttons on power-driven conveyors. The Supreme Court of Ohio reversed. OP provided an emergency-stop button within reach of the operator and guards around pinch points during normal operations. When the machine was undergoing maintenance, OP required that the conveyor be shut down and locked. Rules intended to protect the employees while the conveyor is operating do not apply during maintenance when there is no power. Ruckman's violation of safety protocol was the proximate cause of his injury; only acts within the employer’s control can be the basis for a VSSR. View "Ohio Paperboard v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its award to Employee of permanent-partial-disability compensation under Ohio Rev. Code 4123.57(A) and to issue an order denying the award, holding that, pursuant to State ex rel. Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services, Inc. v. Industrial Commission (“Ohio Presbyterian I”), 79 N.E.3d 522 (Ohio 2016), when an injured employee is receiving permanent-total-disability compensation pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 4123.58, the Commission is without statutory authority to grant in the same claim permanent-partial-disability compensation under section 4123.57(A). Employee in this case moved the court to reconsider its holding in Ohio Presbyterian I. The Supreme Court granted the motion, reopened the case for further consideration, and concluded that its holding in Ohio Presbyterian I was not made in error. Because the Commission granted Employee permanent-total-disability compensation and then permanent-partial-disability compensation in the same claim, the Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to vacate its award of permanent-partial-disability compensation to Employee under section 4123.57(A) and to issue an order denying the award. View "State ex rel. Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Servs., Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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An employer does not face liability for the violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR) when it lacked knowledge of a specific danger requiring a safety device. Employee suffered a head injury while working for Employer. The Industrial Commission awarded workers’ compensation benefits and granted an additional award to Employee based upon its finding that Employer had violated a specific safety requirement in failing to provide Employee with protective headgear. Employer filed a mandamus action in the court of appeals challenging the additional award. The court of appeals denied the writ, concluding that Employer had waived a central issue in its mandamus action by not raising it during proceedings before the Commission. The Supreme Court reversed and ordered a limited writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to determine whether Employer knew or should have known about the latent defect at the time that Employee was injured, holding (1) waiver did not apply in this case because the central issue raised in Employer’s mandamus action was not raised by the parties below; and (2) if Employer lacked the requisite knowledge of a design defect at the time of the injury, it cannot have violated a specific safety requirement. View "State ex rel. Camaco, LLC v. Albu" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the law-of-the-case doctrine requires a court to apply the findings of a superior court in a criminal case to a civil case brought by the criminal defendant against individuals and entities who were not parties to the criminal case. The court held that the law-of-the-case doctrine does not require a court to follow a superior court’s decision in a prior appeal involving one of the parties but in the context of a different case. Rather, the law-of-the-case doctrine applies only to rulings in the same case. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which ruled that summary judgment was improper in this case because the law-of-the-case doctrine applied. The Supreme Court held that the appellate court’s holding was not a proper application of the law-of-the-case doctrine. View "Reid v. Cleveland Police Department" on Justia Law

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The ordinary meaning of “person” under Ohio’s Dram Shop Act, Ohio Rev. Code 4399.18, includes not only patrons but also dancers, workers, independent contractors, and others served by the liquor-permit holder. A dancer at a strip club left the club intoxicated and caused an accident. The accident victim filed claims for common-law-negligence and violations of the Dram Shop Act against the club and Michael Ferraro, the sole officer and shareholder of the club. A magistrate directed a verdict in favor of Ferraro as to his personal liability and in favor of the club as to its liability under the Act. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the victim on the negligence claim. The victim appealed the trial court’s judgment directing a verdict for Ferraro on the issue of personal liability. The court of appeals reversed the judgment against the club on the common-law-negligence claim, which rendered moot the question of Ferraro’s personal liability. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Act applies to determine the liability of a permit holder who sold intoxicating beverages to an intoxicated worker or independent contractor whose intoxication causes an injury; and (2) because the Act applies, Ferraro and the club may not be held liable under common-law-negligence principles. View "Johnson v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a limited writ of mandamus and ordering the Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System Board and Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System (collectively, the Board) to conduct a “physical-capacity evaluation” of Appellee. The Board originally approved Appellee’s disability retirement application but later terminated Appellee’s disability-retirement benefits based on evidence that Appellee was fully recovered and no longer disabled. Appellee appealed, submitting new evidence and a recommendation that Appellee receive a physical-capacity evaluation. The Board upheld its prior decision to terminate disability-retirement benefits without referring Appellee for a physical-capacity evaluation. The court of appeals granted a limited writ of mandamus ordering the Board to conduct the physical-capacity evaluation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board’s decision was based upon sufficient medical evidence and that the Board had no legal duty to conduct a physical-capacity evaluation before terminating Appellee’s disability benefits. View "State ex rel. Burroughs v. Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System Board" on Justia Law

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Appellant, an inmate who was serving sentences imposed for his convictions for a variety of offenses, filed an original action in the court of appeals seeking monetary damages from the Madison County Court of Common Pleas, arguing that as a result of the sentence computation of the Bureau of Sentence Computation in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, he was serving for a second time one of the sentences imposed on him by the Madison County Court of Common Pleas, and therefore, he was entitled to damages for false imprisonment. The court of appeals dismissed the action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State of Ohio, not the common pleas court, was the party that should have been named in this action. View "Johnson v. Madison County Court of Common Pleas" on Justia Law

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An Industrial Commission order determining that a preexisting condition that was substantially aggravated by a workplace injury has returned to a level that would have existed absent the jury is not appealable to a court of common pleas under Ohio Rev. Code 4123.512(A). Appellee suffered a workplace injury. Appellee’s claim for workers’ compensation was allowed for multiple conditions. The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation later moved to abate Appellee’s claim for substantial aggravated of preexisting dermatomyositis, asserting that Appellee’s dermatomyositis had returned to a level that would have existed without her workplace injury. A hearing officer granted the Bureau’s motion and ordered that compensation and medical benefits were no longer to be paid for the allowed condition. Appellee appealed. The trial court dismissed Appellee’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that medical abatement of one condition of a claim is an extent-of-disability issue that cannot be appealed to a common pleas court under section 4123.512(A). The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the order was appealable to the court of common pleas. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that such a decision is not appealable under section 4123.512. Instead, a challenge to the Commission’s final decision regarding the extent of disability is properly made by an action in mandamus. View "Clendenin v. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident allegedly caused by a high-speed police chase. Appellant filed a negligence action against certain police officers, alleging that the officers engaged in a high-speed case of a suspect that ended when Barnhart’s vehicle struck Plaintiff’s vehicle, killing the suspect and seriously injuring Plaintiff. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the officers, concluding (1) as a matter of law, a police officer who pursues a suspect is not the proximate cause of injuries to a third party unless the officer’s conduct is extreme and outrageous; and (2) under this standard, no reasonable juror could conclude that the officers’ actions were the proximate cause of the accident. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) the no-proximate-cause standard applied by the court of appeals in this case is contrary to the express dictates of Ohio Rev. Code 2744.03(A)(6)(b), which provides that law enforcement officers are immune from liability unless they act maliciously, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner; and (2) applying the correct standard set forth in section 2744.03(A)(6)(b), the officers could not be held liable for damages as a result of their actions. View "Argabrite v. Neer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury