Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The tort of intentional interference with or destruction of evidence does not include claims alleging interference with or concealment of evidence that disrupt a plaintiff’s underlying case. Appellee filed an action against a school district, its board of education, and five board members (collectively, school defendants) alleging wrongful termination and sex discrimination. Appellants were attorneys who represented the school defendants in the wrongful termination case. While the wrongful termination case was pending, Appellee filed the instant action against Appellants, alleging intentional spoliation of evidence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Appellants because Appellee was unable to establish that Appellants had physically destroyed evidence. The appellate division reversed, concluding that the intentional concealment, interference with, or misrepresentation of evidence was sufficient to establish a viable spoliation claim. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the judgment of the trial court, holding that allegations of intentional interference with or concealment of evidence are not actionable under the independent tort of intentional spoliation of evidence. View "Elliott-Thomas v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying the writ of mandamus sought by Appellant seeking to compel the Industrial Commission to vacate its order retroactively adjusting Appellant’s benefit rate. After Appellant was injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident he began receiving workers’ compensation benefits. After the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation discovered that Appellant’s benefit rates had been incorrectly calculated, it recalculated Appellant’s full weekly wage and average weekly wage. The Commission affirmed the Bureau’s order and instructed the Bureau to determine how much Appellant had previously been overpaid and to recoup that amount through reduction of his future benefits. The court of appeals concluded that the Commission had not abused its discretion in upholding the Bureau’s adjustment of Appellant’s benefit rate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to demonstrate a clear legal right to the relief requested or a clear legal duty on the part of the Commission to provide it. View "State ex rel. Witt v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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The definition of “claimant” for purposes of Ohio Rev. Code 4123.931(G) is any party who is eligible to receive compensation, medical benefits, or death benefits from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Further, a claimant becomes eligible at the time of the injury or death that occurred during the course of employment and remains eligible unless and until a determination that the claimant is not entitled to benefits has been made and has become final or, if no claim is filed, until the time allowed for filing a claim has elapsed. Loretta Verlinger, a benefits applicant, appealed the denial of her application to the Industrial Commission. During the pendency of the appeal, Verlinger settled claims with Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and Foremost Property and Casualty Insurance Company. The Commission subsequently allowed Verlinger’s claim. The trial court granted summary judgment for Verlinger, concluding that she was not a claimant pursuant to section 4123.931. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) Verlinger was a claimant at the time she settled with the insurance companies; and (2) Metropolitan and Foremost were jointly and severally liable to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, a statutory subrogee, for the full amount of its subrogation interest. View "Bureau of Workers' Compensation v. Verlinger" on Justia Law

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To recover on a claim for asbestos-related injuries, the “cumulative-exposure theory,” which postulates that every non-minimal exposure to asbestos is a substantial factor in causing mesothelioma, is in consent with the test for causation set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 2307.96 and therefore not a sufficient basis for finding that a defendant’s conduct was a “substantial factor” in causing an asbestos-related disease. The Supreme Court thus reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which held otherwise. The court then entered judgment for the defendant-manufacturer, holding that the evidence presented was not sufficient to show that exposure to asbestos from the manufacturer’s product was a substantial factor in causing the injury at issue. View "Schwartz v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The delayed damage rule, which modifies the general rule for when a cause of action accrues, did not apply to this cause of action alleging negligence related to the procuring of a professional-liability insurance policy. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment dismissing the complaint filed by Appellee as untimely, holding (1) the delayed-damage rule does not apply to a cause of action alleging negligent procurement of a professional-liability insurance policy or negligent misrepresentation of the terms of the policy when the policy contains a provision specifically excluding the type of claim that the insured alleges it believed was covered by the policy; (2) the cause of action in such a case accrues on the date the policy is issued; and (3) therefore, the complaint filed by Appellee in this case was untimely. View "LGR Realty, Inc. v. Frank & London Insurance Agency" on Justia Law

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The delayed damage rule, which modifies the general rule for when a cause of action accrues, did not apply to this cause of action alleging negligence related to the procuring of a professional-liability insurance policy. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment dismissing the complaint filed by Appellee as untimely, holding (1) the delayed-damage rule does not apply to a cause of action alleging negligent procurement of a professional-liability insurance policy or negligent misrepresentation of the terms of the policy when the policy contains a provision specifically excluding the type of claim that the insured alleges it believed was covered by the policy; (2) the cause of action in such a case accrues on the date the policy is issued; and (3) therefore, the complaint filed by Appellee in this case was untimely. View "LGR Realty, Inc. v. Frank & London Insurance Agency" on Justia Law

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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