Member Login
Upcoming Seminars

{{#if events}}{{#events}}
{{moment startDate format='MMM'}}
{{moment startDate format='DD'}}
{{{title}}}

{{{category}}}

[ Details]

{{/events}} {{/if}}

         

Upcoming Webinars

{{#if events}}{{#events}}
{{moment startDate format='MMM'}}
{{moment startDate format='DD'}}
{{{title}}}

{{{category}}}

[ Details]

{{/events}} {{/if}}
Advocates Circle Firms

Arthur Law Firm Co., LPA.

 

Barkan Meizlish
Handelman Goodin DeRose
Wentz, LLP

 

Christian R. Patno

 

Bordas & Bordas, PLLC

 

Crandall & Pera Law

 

Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers

 

Elk & Elk

 

Garson Johnson, LLC

 

Geiser, Bowman & McLafferty, LLC

 

The Gervelis Law Firm

 

Kisling Nestico & Redick

 

Kitrick, Lewis & Harris Co.,. LPA

 

Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC

 

Leizerman & Associates, LLC

 

Lamkin, Van Eman, Trimble & Dougherty, LLC

 

Meyer Wilson Co., LPA

 

Murray & Murray Co., LPA

 

Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy Co., LPA

 

O'Connor Acciani & Levy, LPA

 

Rittgers & Rittgers

 

Robert J. Wagoner, Co., LLC

 

Rourke & Blumenthal

 

Slater & Zurz, LLP

 

Tittle & Perlmuter

 

Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd.

 

Young and McCarthy LLP

 


 

                       

 

 

OAJ BLOG CENTRAL

Study: Opioids Contributing to Increasing Number of Fatal Accidents

Shared by Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC

www.teamlgm.com/blog


The prevalence and use of prescription painkillers like hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and methadone, has risen steadily over the last few years in the United States, as many Americans have been prescribed these powerful medications to treat pain associated with surgeries and recurring pain from past injuries.

The addictive power of opioids has been widely covered by the national media, as the United States has seen large increases in fatal and non-fatal overdoses and whole generations of young people lost to addiction in some regions of the country.

While much of the conversation around opioids centers on addicts and their immediate families, little is said about the impact that opioid-impaired individuals can have on non-relatives.

HOW OPIOIDS AFFECT DRIVERS

In the United States, the use of prescription opioids by drivers is increasingly implicated as a contributing cause in fatal motor vehicle crashes. In just one year — between 2015-2016 — the rate of fatal auto accidents resulting from overdoses jumped 2.6 percent per 100 million driver miles.

Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, which muffle a person’s perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure. The side-effects of these medications can include dizziness, drowsiness, and sedation, which can impair the necessary psychomotor and cognitive skills to safely drive a car.

Opioid use can also impair concentration and attention, and decrease alertness, which can lead a person under the influence of opioids to drift between lanes while driving.

A study conducted by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) between Jan. 1, 1993 – Dec. 31, 2016 found that, of the 36,642 drivers involved in 18,321 fatal two-vehicle crashes, prescription opioid use as indicated by toxicological testing results was associated with a significantly increased risk of crash initiation, due in large part to failure to keep in proper lane.

The study found that:

  • Almost 55 percent of fatal two-vehicle crashes were caused by an opioid-impaired driver that failed to stay in their travel lane.
  • The rate of opioid impairment in fatal crashes increased from two percent in 1993 to seven percent in 2016.
  • The adjusted odds ratio of crash initiation was 2.18 (95 percent) for drivers testing positive for prescription opioids, compared with drivers testing negative.

The data found in this study proves that opioid use can greatly increase one’s risk of causing a fatal accident and should serve to remind motorists to be aware of other drivers and to avoid other vehicles that are moving erratically or are drifting between lanes.


Fatal Truck Crashes Rise and Other Drivers Pay the Price

Shared by Young & McCarthy

www.truckcrashvictimhelp.com/blog


Ohio drivers have good reason to be wary around large trucks because truck crashes are on the rise. Of the 34,439 fatal crashes that occurred across the U.S. in 2017, 4,079 involved at least one truck or bus according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In addition, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that 72% of fatalities in truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles. Some trucking companies, to address this deadly trend, are turning to vehicle safety technology.

Maverick Transportation, a mid-sized company operating out of the Midwest, has installed everything from collision warning systems and roll stability control to forward-facing cameras on its fleet of 1,800 trucks. The fact that Maverick only saw one reportable accident in 2018 is attributable, the CEO believes, to these devices.

Maverick is one company that has also taken advantage of speed limiters on its trucks and set the devices to 65 mph. Speed limiters, found on all trucks built since 1992, were the subject of a NHTSA proposal. Had the proposal not failed back in 2017, it would have led to a federal mandate requiring the use of speed limiters on all heavy-duty trucks.

Many truck accidents are caused by the negligence of truckers. In their effort to meet deadlines, truckers may not only speed but also drive drowsy. Whatever the form of negligence, it could give the other side the grounds for a personal injury claim. Victims who wish to file such a claim may want a legal assessment first. If retained, a lawyer might hire investigators to gather proof against the defendant and medical experts to determine the extent of injuries. Victims may have their lawyer strive for a settlement.


What’s On Their Minds: Do Statutory Penalties Against Employers Preclude Common Law Wrongful Termination Claims by Employees? Christine House v. Bruce Iacovelli, et al.

Shared by Marianna Brown Bettman

www.legallyspeakingohio.com


On April 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio heard oral argument in Christine House v. Bruce Iacovelli, et al., 2018-0434. At issue is whether the statutory penalties for employers imposed by R.C. 4141 preclude an employee from bringing a common law tort for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.

Case Background

Christine House (“House”) was a server at Riverside Tavern, a restaurant owned and operated by Bruce Iacovelli (“Iacovelli”) and his business, Windham Enterprises. During House’s employment at Riverside Tavern, she worked between 35 and 50 hours per week and was paid a variable hourly rate that accounted for the tips she received during her shift. House allegedly approached Iacovelli and raised concerns about inaccuracies in the payroll which underreported House’s pay and the tips she earned. Iacovelli admitted to failing to pay all of House’s unemployment compensation insurance under Ohio law. House further alleges that after she brought the matter to Iacovelli’s attention he fired her for causing “too much drama,” rather than addressing the issue. After House was terminated, she claims Iacovelli urged her to mislead the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services by stating that she was terminated for “lack of work” to qualify for unemployment benefits. In exchange for her cooperation, Iacovelli offered to pay House $150 every two weeks to offset the lower unemployment benefits she would receive due to Iacovelli’s failure to report her wages and tips accurately.

On August 7, 2015, House filed suit against Iacovelli for wrongful termination, conversion, and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Iacovelli filed an answer denying House’s claims. House then filed an amended complaint solely alleging wrongful termination in violation of R.C. Chapter 4141 for failing to report House’s wages accurately and to make adequate contributions to Ohio’s unemployment compensation insurance program. In the amended complaint, House stressed that she did not agree to participate in Iacovelli’s scheme to defraud the government and cheat her out of employment benefits.

After numerous motions and responses by both parties, the trial court ruled that while House satisfied the clarity element in support of her public policy wrongful termination claim, she failed to satisfy the jeopardy element as a matter of law because R.C. 4141.27 allows for the Attorney General to bring actions for violations of R.C. 4141. The court dismissed House’s amended complaint. House appealed.

On appeal, the Ninth District, in a unanimous opinion, affirmed in part and reversed in part.  Pertinent to the Supreme Court appeal, the Ninth District held that the trial court erred in finding that House failed to satisfy the jeopardy element of the wrongful termination claim. According to the Ninth District, the jeopardy element is satisfied where there is no meaningful opportunity for a plaintiff to recover, and R.C. 4141.27 does not afford House such an opportunity. Iacovelli now appeals.

Key Precedent

R.C. 4141.27 (Proceeding Against Employer Who Fails to Comply) (The Director of Job and Family Services or the Attorney General may compel an employer to accurately disclose and pay taxes into Ohio’s unemployment insurance fund. If an employer refuses to comply, legal actions may be initiated against such an employer.)

R.C. 4141.281(A) (Right of Appeal to Director) (Any party notified of a determination of benefit rights or a claim for benefits determination may appeal within twenty-one calendar days after the written determination was sent to the party . . .)

Greeley v. Miami Valley Maintenance Constr., 49 Ohio St.3d 228 (1990) (Public policy requires an exception to the employment at-will doctrine when an employee is discharged or disciplined for a reason prohibited by statute; in such cases, employees may bring suit in tort for wrongful discharge.)

Kulch v. Structural Fibers, 78 Ohio St.3d 134 (1997) (An employee who is wrongfully discharged may maintain a statutory cause of action, a common law cause of action, or both, but the employee is not entitled to double recovery.)

Wiles v. Medina Auto Parts, 2002-Ohio-3994 (When federal statutes provide sufficient individual remedies for wrongfully discharged employees, it is unnecessary to allow a common law wrongful discharge tort claim.)

 Ripley v. Montgomery, 2007-Ohio-7151 (10th Dist.) (There is no need to recognize a common law action for wrongful discharge if there already exists a statutory remedy that adequately protects society’s interests by discouraging the wrongful conduct.)

Iacovelli’s Proposition of Law Accepted for Review

In a common law tort claim for wrongful termination, if there is a statutory scheme to protect the public’s interest in the public policy involved, the jeopardy element is not met even if there is no relief available to the individual employee.

Click here to continue reading blog post.


BACK TO TOP 


How are Bicycle Accidents Different When Children are Involved?

Shared by Jeffries, Kube, Forrest & Monteleone Co. L.P.A.

www.jkfmlaw.com/blog


When a vehicle strikes a bicyclist, there's a high chance of a catastrophic injury -- particularly if the car is traveling quickly. Furthermore, if the cyclist was obeying the rules of the road, there's also a chance that the cyclist can hold the vehicle driver financially responsible for his or her injuries.

But what if the cyclist was not obeying the rules of the road? What if the cyclist darts into traffic unexpectedly? In most cases, this fact could serve to diminish the liability of the vehicle driver or remove all liability from the vehicle driver. But that's not necessarily the case when the bike accident involves a child cyclist.

The driver's "duty of care" is higher in a child bicycle crash

Every driver has a legal obligation to follow the rules of the road and take reasonable precautions to prevent unnecessary harm to the people around them. This "duty of care" is even higher when children are present. That's because children lack the mental faculties, reasoning and decision-making skills to avoid getting hit by a car.

The lack of ability to avoid a crash on the part of children means that -- under state civil laws -- a reasonable motorist must take extra care to slow down and be more cautious and attentive whenever children are around. This applies in the cases of child pedestrians, children at play and child cyclists. Also, wherever children could be, motorists have the obligation to be careful.

Contributory negligence arguments don't hold as much weight against kids

Thus, when an adult breaks the law or rides a bike negligently or recklessly -- and gets into a crash with a motorist -- the legal defense of "contributory negligence" could apply. However, these defenses are less effective when a motorist strikes a child.


What can be Done to Prevent Auto-Pedestrian Accidents?

Shared by the Sandel Law Firm

www.sandellaw.com/blog


As the weather continues to improve here in Ohio, more people may take the time to get out and walk. With more people on foot, the possibility of auto-pedestrian accidents increases. While drivers need to pay attention and look out for them, pedestrians can take some steps to try to improve their chances of avoiding injury.

Without the safety of being inside a passenger vehicle with all of its safety features, such as seat belts and airbags, pedestrians face serious or deadly injuries if struck by a vehicle. Remaining alert and attentive to their surroundings is vital to getting to their destinations safely. First, this means putting away any electronics, which provide an ever-growing distraction to drivers and walkers alike.

Using earphones to listen to music, podcasts or other entertainment may seem like a good idea, since it does not take a person's eyes off his or her surroundings, but it dulls the ability to hear. This could keep someone from hearing an approaching vehicle. Intersections are obviously one of the most dangerous parts of any walk, but even sidewalks are not always safe. Drivers make mistakes, and many drive onto sidewalks.

Walking in areas without sidewalks poses an additional danger, and people need to remain extra cautious. Walking at night can be particularly dangerous, especially in areas where the lighting is not good. Wearing clothing visible to vehicles could help offset this danger. Making eye contact with drivers at intersections lets a pedestrian know that he or she is seen.

Even when a pedestrian takes as many precautions as possible and does everything right, accidents still happen. Each year, auto-pedestrian accidents take the lives of innocent people and cause serious injuries from which a victim may not fully recover. When this happens, it may be possible to pursue restitution for the accompanying financial losses through the filing of a claim in an Ohio civil court.


Large Verdict Provided in Case Involving Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from Texting and Driving

Shared by Tittle & Perlmuter

tittlelawfirm.com/blog


Every year, nearly two million people sustain a head injury. Head injuries, also called Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), are a major cause of death and disability in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths and those who survive can face effects that last the rest of their lives.

A brain injury can lead to serious health complications, including permanent physical and mental disabilities, as seen in this case involving a 16-year-old sophomore at Joplin High School in Joplin, Missouri.

According to the Joplin Globe, Olivia Kelly was 16 years old when fellow student Joseph Schnaedter, 18, collided into her car in a busy intersection. This accident would leave Kelly with a serious brain injury that prevented her from recalling her birth date, phone number, or even who her own father was.

Due to the prolonged effects of Kelly’s injury, the family decided to bring a lawsuit against Joplin High School Senior, Joseph Schnaedter, and his insurance company, Safeco Insurance. Charles Sticklen and Shelley Dreyer, Kelly’s attorneys, argued that the students’ cars arrived at the intersection at the same time, but because Kelly was the driver on the right, she had the right of way. They argued that if Schnaedter had not been distracted due to texting, the accident may not have occurred.

Attorney Oscar Espinoza, representing defendant Joseph Schnaedter, argued that his client was not texting while driving and had stopped texting before even leaving his home that morning. However, after going through cellphone records introduced as evidence by the plaintiffs, they found over 205 text messages from Schnaedter between 7:17 AM and 7:59 AM. The accident occurred at 7:59 AM, the same time as his last text was sent. The timeline was further proved by Schnaedter himself after acknowledging, under oath, that he had called his mother directly after the accident, showing as 8:00 AM on his phone records.

After a three-day trial in Jasper County, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Kelly and ordered Schnaedter and Safeco to pay $900,000 to Kelly and her family.

After almost two and a half years after the accident, Kelly is still suffering from her Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She was forced to miss a semester of school in order to recover and suffers from mood changes, constant migraines, anxiety, sleep disorders, and more. Before the accident, Kelly was known to friends and teachers as a “straight A student”. After her injury, it was hard for her to maintain a C-grade point average when she finally returned to school almost 6 months later.

Although Kelly doesn’t remember what actually caused the brain injury, whether it was the airbag, whiplash, or hitting her head on her driver’s seat headrest, the effects of her injury are still being felt to this day and have an impact on her everyday life. 


BACK TO TOP


Illegal Delay of 2016 Equity in IDEA Regulations

Shared by Hickman & Lowder Co., LPA

hickman-lowder.com/blog


On March 7, 2019, the US District Court in Washington D.C. ruled that the current Department of Education had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to implement Obama-era rules which are intended to address the disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities. A summary of the action was issued by the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA):

  • The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) had engaged in an ‘illegal delay’ of the 2016 Equity in IDEA regulations. Those regulations, which were supposed to go into effect on July 1, 2018, implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements relating to significant racial disproportionality. The federal court’s ruling requires those 2016 final regulations to immediately go into effect.
  • The decision comes as a result of a lawsuit filed against the Department by COPAA, who were represented by the National Center for Youth Law.
  • The suit, filed on July 12, 2018, alleged that the Department’s delay violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
  • “Today is a victory for children, especially children of color and others who are at-risk for being inappropriately identified for special education,” said COPAA’s executive director, Denise Marshall.
  • “COPAA, with the support of parents whose children who have been harmed by unlawful suspensions, assignments to segregated and restrictive classrooms, and improper decisions of both under and over identification for special education, took legal steps to fight the Department. The court has sided with the children whom the Department had deemed unimportant through its actions to delay implementation of the Equity in IDEA regulations.”
  • “While identification of children for special education is deeply complex, the court has made clear that the Department’s position – that the regulations would have caused [state-determined] quotas for special education – is unfounded. Today’s decision assures States will be required to help their districts who have historically discriminated against children and provide those children with early intervening services rather than ordering their suspension and expulsion from school.”
  • Of particular note is the court’s decision that the Department violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by writing, “First, [the Department] failed to provide a reasoned explanation for delaying the 2016 Regulations. Second, [the Department] failed to consider the costs of delay, rendering the Delay Regulation arbitrary and capricious,” as COPAA had alleged. Furthermore, COPAA’s ‘associational’ standing was upheld by court, which means among other legalities that they have the credibility and legal right to protect the interest of children with disabilities in this matter.
  • “Students and families will benefit from this ruling because their states and school districts will have clear rules about significant racial disproportionality in special education,” said the National Center for Youth Law’s Executive Director Jesse Hahnel.
  • Marshall concluded, “As an organization that for 21 years has held up its mission to advocate for the civil rights of students with disabilities, we especially thank the families that stood with us in this fight to protect the rights and opportunities of children.  The federal government must prioritize children and ensure they have access and equity to achieve their full potential in our schools.”

What Workers' Comp Type Benefits are Available to Rail Workers?

Shared by Philip J. Fulton Law Office

www.ohiocompensationlawyer.com/blog


The railways are an integral part of the transport infrastructure of any state or country. Several thousand miles of railroads traverse Ohio and the rest of the country and provide an important means of transport for both freight and passengers. In order to make sure that such a vast rail network functions smoothly, railroad companies employ a large number of workers for the upkeep of the network. These workers, however, are often exposed to workplace hazards that are unique to the railways.

The Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act in 1908 to protect railroad workers. This federal act covers the thousands of railroad workers in Ohio and the rest of the country. According to the FELA, a worker employed by a railroad company is eligible for compensation if he or she is injured while on duty, irrespective of whether such duty was being carried out on the railway tracks or away from it. In the event of a workplace death, the family of the deceased worker is entitled to compensation.

To obtain FELA benefits, an injured worker or a representative needs to file a claim directly with the employer. While many claims are accepted, there can be instances when a claim is disputed or denied by a railroad company. In the event of such dispute or denial, the claimant can approach a court. Of importance, unlike state workers' compensation programs that provide compensation for no-fault cases, a FELA claim needs to be supported by evidence, which proves that the railroad company, the railroad company's employees or an equipment manufacturer was responsible for the injury or death.

While an experienced attorney can advise those affected about the nuances of the FELA claim process and the available benefits, in short, it can be said that the compensation amount for injuries while working on the railroads is based on past and future wage loss; past and future medical expenses; and past and future pain, suffering and mental distress. In the event of the railroad worker's death while on duty, the family members may be entitled to receive death benefits. And finally, if the deceased worker does not have a surviving spouse or child, the benefits are paid to surviving parents or other close relatives, as may be deemed fit.


How to Block the Ability to Text/Access Social Media While Driving

Shared by Bey & Associates, LLC

www.beyandassociates.com/blog


Our cell phones give us access to limitless information; however, having access behind the wheel is a serious hazard. Thousands of unsuspecting individuals are injured or killed in car accidents each year as a result of distracted drivers. A significant number of those drivers were using a cell phone to talk, text, or otherwise communicate. When the mind and eyes are focused on reading a text message, there’s no way for a driver to know what’s going on around them.

It’s critical for all drivers to be aware of the dangers of texting or accessing social media while driving. Contrary to what many people say, multitasking is not safe – especially behind the wheel. Fortunately, there are ways to block access to cell phone use while driving. Some phones have built-in applications designed to limit communication access, while other users will need to download an app to block their access.

Eliminating the temptation to pick up your phone and multitask can keep you safe and also encourage family members and friends to prioritize safety when driving. Stopping a couple people from using their cell phones while behind the wheel may seem like a minor step in the right direction, but it’s vital to remember that safety starts at home. It starts with us.

Avoiding Driving Distractions with In-Phone Features and Apps

Depending on the type of phone you have, there are different ways to limit texting and social media access while driving. Whether you’re a parent trying to teach your new driver how to be responsible behind the wheel or are often tempted by the sound of notifications going off, using the applications and programs designed to prevent cell phone use can help to reduce the number of distracted driving collisions.

Apple’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” Feature

With iOS 11 and later, iPhones are equipped with a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature. When a phone is connected to a car with Bluetooth capabilities or through a cable, notifications will be withheld while the car is in motion. A default response message can be sent to friends if they text you. If the sender replies to your message with “Urgent,” you will receive their text. In addition to that, the feature locks the iPhone screen to prevent drivers from using their apps.

If you activate this feature, you can expect your phone to stay silent and the screen will remain dark. Certain notifications, like emergency alerts, timers, and alarms, will still be delivered. You can receive phone calls from your Favorites, like with the standard “Do Not Disturb” feature. In the event someone calls you two times in a row, however, the call will come through as usual if you are connected to your car’s Bluetooth. Also, if you are a passenger who is trying to use the phone, you will be prompted to tap “I’m Not Driving” to disable the feature.

To activate this feature, do the following:

  • Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Tap Activate
  • You can choose to have the feature work automatically, manually, or only when connected to the car’s Bluetooth

This feature can be turned off and on in the Control Center. To add it to your control center, you will need to:

  • Go to Setting > Control Center > Customize Controls
  • Tap the green plus symbol next to “Do Not Disturb While Driving”

If you are the parent of a young driver, you can set the features you want your child to drive with and prevent changes being made by following these steps:

  • Go to Settings > Screen Time > Tap Turn on Screen Time
  • Tap Continue > This is My Child’s iPhone. From there, you can follow the prompts to enable restrictions.
  • Tap Continue and create a Parent Passcode
  • Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your passcode
  • Scroll and tap Do Not Disturb While Driving > Tap Allow

Android Auto

Android Auto is designed to minimize distractions to help drivers stay focused on the road by providing larger touch targets, a simplified interface, and the help of the Google Assistant. While this app can be accessed with just a phone, there are currently 400 car models that support this feature. An Android phone running Android 5.0 and up will work, but Android 6.0 and up is recommended. You will also need a car mount for the phone and a USB cable. The app can be downloaded on the Google Play store.

To set up the Android Auto app on your phone, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Open the app. Your phone may prompt you to download or update additional apps.
  • Review the terms and conditions.
  • Following the on-screen steps to give the app permission to access your phone’s features.
  • Turn on notifications for the app.
  • If your phone is already paired with your vehicle’s Bluetooth, you can select the device and enable auto launch.

If you are planning on using your car’s display for the app, complete the steps above and on your car’s display select Android Auto.

Apps that Prevent Phone Use While Driving

In addition to the features discussed above, there are a number of apps phone users can choose from that have a similar effect. One of the most popular is called Drivemode. This app allows drivers to ignore calls or texts or provides a safer way to answer calls and hear messages. With this app, users can reply to a text message with voice commands, set up text message auto-replies, automatically launch and close the app with Bluetooth pairing, and set a “Do Not Disturb” mode.

Other popular apps include TextDrive, Driving Detective, and Cellcontrol. The primary feature of TextDrive is an auto-reply for incoming texts. Driving Detective, similar to the Apple feature, puts the phone in a do not disturb mode. The last app, Cellcontrol, is useful for businesses looking to reinforce proper device usage when employees are operating company vehicles.


BACK TO TOP


What’s On Their Minds: Can Ex-Employee Sue the County For Intentional Tort Claim Filed After Termination?

Shared by Marianna Brown Bettman

www.legallyspeakingohio.com


On March 5, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio heard oral argument in Marcella King Piazza v. Cuyahoga County, et al., 2017-1649. At issue in the case is whether the immunity exception allowing civil claims against a political subdivision extends to actions brought after the employee has been terminated by the political subdivision. Second District Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Froelich sat for Justice Stewart, who participated in the appellate decision while on the Eighth District Court of Appeals.

Case Background

In 2003, Marcella King Piazza (“Piazza”) began working for the Cuyahoga County auditor’s office. Piazza was later transferred to the County Boards of Revision where she worked as office manager. Subsequently, in August 2010, Piazza was transferred to the Department of Justice Affairs where she worked as a victim advocate. Around the time Piazza was transferred to the Department of Justice Affairs, the Plain Dealer Publishing Company (“Plain Dealer”) began publishing a series of articles about the scandal at the Boards of Revision which cost taxpayers over $400 million, claiming that an investigation was underway into the work habits, favoritism, and mismanagement of the department.

In March 2011, Piazza was terminated from employment with the county. Within two hours of Piazza’s discharge, the Plain Dealer published an online article headlined, “Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald fires three employees tied to the boards of revision scandal.” One of those fired employees was Piazza, who had in fact never been disciplined or cited for poor work habits and had no authority over any Board member. Further articles identified Piazza by name, included her photo, and again implied she was part of the Boards of Revision corruption scandal.

In 2015, Piazza filed a complaint against Cuyahoga County (“the County”) and the Plain Dealer alleging false light invasion of privacy. The allegation stemmed from quoted statements of County Executive FitzGerald which Piazza claimed were made with a reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of his statements. The County moved for summary judgment pursuant to R.C. 2744.02. The County also alleged that Piazza’s claim was time-barred. The trial court denied the County’s motion, finding the false light claim was not time-barred nor covered by immunity. The County appealed.

On appeal, the Eighth District, in an opinion authored by Judge Kathleen Keough and joined by Judge Mary Boyle, affirmed the denial of summary judgment. According to the majority, the County is not entitled to political subdivision immunity under R.C. 2744.02 because R.C. 2744.09 (B) precludes immunity when a civil suit involves matters related to the employment relationship, and Piazza’s claims arose out of her employment relationship with the County. The appeals court did not consider the statute of limitations ruling because it was not a final appealable order.

Then-Judge Melody Stewart concurred in part and dissented in part, with an opinion.  She agreed with the majority’s conclusion about the statute of limitations, but not about the false light claim. Judge Stewart interpreted the statutory use of the word “employee” as meaning a person currently employed by the relevant political subdivision. Therefore, the County should be able rightfully to claim immunity from Piazza’s suit because she was not an employee of the County when the county executive’s statements were made.

Read the oral argument preview here.

Key Statutes and Precedent

R.C. 2744.02 (Political Subdivision Immunity)

R.C. 2744.09(B) (Exceptions to Immunity) (Political Subdivision Immunity shall not extend to civil actions by an employee against his or her political subdivision relative to any matter that arises out of the employment relationship between the employee and the political subdivision.)

Fleming v. Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education, 2008-Ohio-1892 (11th Dist.) (A person need not be a current employee at the time claims were filed against a political subdivision to qualify for the political subdivision immunity exception.)

Sampson v. Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, 2010-Ohio-3415 (Intentional tort claims can arise out of the employment relationship with respect to R.C. 2744.09(B). To succeed, a claim must show a causal connection between the tort and the employment relationship. Direct causation is not necessary; indirect causation is sufficient.)

George v. Newburgh Heights, 2012-Ohio-2065 (8th Dist.) (Totality of the circumstances review requires examining events that occurred while a person was employed by the political subdivision and after the employment relationship is terminated.)

Vacha v. City of North Ridgeville, 2013-Ohio-3020 (To determine whether a causal connection exists the court must examine the totality of the circumstances. If no connection exists, political subdivision immunity is appropriate.)

Click here to continue reading blog post.


 

Electrical Shock Injuries and Their Aftermath

Shared by Crandall & Pera Law, LLC

www.injuryverdicts.com/blog


Electrical shock injuries can happen anywhere - at home or in the workplace. And, electrical injuries can cause significant physical trauma or even death. Serious injuries like these can be both physically and financially difficult to recover from.

Your injuries may be exacerbated further by the stress of trying to pay your medical bills, or trying to manage your finances when you have to take time off work to heal from your injuries. If your accident was caused by someone else's negligence or carelessness, however, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the responsible party.

More about electrical shock injuries

Electric shock accidents, depending on their severity, can result in devastating injuries, including:

  • Burns
  • Catastrophic injury
  • Amputations
  • Loss of vision and/or hearing
  • Death (by electrocution)

Injuries of this type can take a heavy psychological toll in addition to a physical one. Many injury victims may be unable to return to work for a long while - if at all - and are unable to make a living during the healing process. Some patients suffer permanent disability. Between pain and suffering, medical expenses, and the inability to work, many patients find themselves overwhelmed both emotionally and financially.

However, with a personal injury claim, an injury victim has the right to recover damages and losses, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs
  • Doctor visits and medication
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other associated losses

How can my personal injury attorney help?

Every situation and claim is unique, so your legal options would depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident and injury. However, here's some general information.

If your electrical shock injury was caused by someone else's carelessness or negligence, you likely have grounds to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation. Examples might include faulty or open wiring. Or, you may have suffered electrocution due to a defective product. Examples can include things like malfunctioning hair dryers.

You may be able to file a premises liability claim if you were injured via electric shock when you were a visitor on someone else's property (as a guest, visitor, or shopper). These types of claims are filed when injuries are caused by unsafe conditions on someone else's property. When someone fails to protect you from things like live wires or dangerous electricity, they can be liable for your injuries.

Finally, if your loved one died of electrocution, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the accountable party. If the fatal injury happened while your loved one was at work, you may be entitled to death benefits under workers' compensation.


A Columbus Attorney Discusses the Importance of Monitoring Truck Safety

Shared by Smith Law Office

www.sestriallaw.com/blog


Operating a large commercial truck requires far more skill than commuting to work in a smaller passenger car. Skill is only half the battle. Unlike most passenger vehicle drivers, truckers spend long periods of time on the road. For this reason alone, they are far more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.

Technology may help prevent accidents involving tired truckers. One emerging system, called Lytx, has already proven to effectively monitor the safety habits of truck drivers.

How Lytx works

If you’ve never heard of Lytx before, now is the time to familiarize yourself with it. Not only does it collect data through video telematics to help improve safety, it can also show a driver’s behavior at the time of a crash.

In its State of the Data presentation – which was presented at the American Trucking Association Management Conference and Exhibition in October 2018 – Lytx collected data based on 100 billion miles traveled in large commercial trucks between June and August of 2018.

The data found a connection between driver behavior and the likelihood of being involved in a collision. It pinpointed the top ten driving behaviors commonly observed in truck cabs. These included, in order of frequency:  

  • Driver not wearing a seatbelt 
  • Late response 
  • Following distance of >1 to <2 seconds 
  • Smoking 
  • Following distance of >2 to <3 seconds: 
  • Exceeding speed limit 
  • Drinking or eating while driving 
  • Other violations such as driving over centerline, blocking an intersection, or driving on a shoulder 
  • Using handheld device while driving 
  • Following distance of less than <1 second 

Most of these driving behaviors had declined since the same period in 2017, but following distance of >1 to <2 seconds, exceeding the posted speed limit, and other violations increased in 2018.

Lytx data also found that within a 90-day period, truckers displayed the following behaviors:

  • Collision 
  • Blank stare 
  • Drowsy driving 
  • Driver not wearing a seatbelt 
  • Late response 
  • Failed to keep an out (which means that the driver cut it close to another vehicle, person, or object) 
  • Near collision 
  • Near collision (which was unavoidable) 
  • Aggressive driving 
  • Falling asleep at the wheel 

Wednesday, particularly between 2-4 a.m., was documented as having the most collisions out of any day of the week. Fridays had the highest rate of near-collisions.  

On any given day, the time span with the most collisions was between 11 p.m. - 5 a.m., when drivers are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Most near-collisions happened between 1-5 p.m.


BACK TO TOP


Guilty Plea in A “Sun Glare” Case

Shared by Steven Magas | The Magas Law Firm

www.ohiobikelawyer.com


A cyclist was killed in a Boston Heights, Ohio car/bike crash and the motorist was charged with vehicular homicide. Yesterday [1/14/2019] he plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter.

This was a case somewhat similar to the Brecksville, Ohio crash that killed 2 cyclists and maimed 3 others. The Boston Heights crash occurred on September 16, 2018, almost exactly three years after the Brecksville crash killed Matt Billings and Jim Lambert were killed by landscaper Tim Wolf [9/17/15]. Just five years after cyclist Emilee Gagnon was run down by motorist Lynn Smith near Toledo [9/23/2013].

The significance of that mid-late September timeline should not be minimized. That is the time of year when Ohio’s East/West roads line up almost exactly with the sun’s rise/set path. It is also a time of year that the sunsets come a bit earlier, but the great Ohio riding weather continues. It is a time when cyclists are more likely to riding during those first hours of sunrise and last hours of the day’s sun. It is a time of year when “sun glare” cases seem to crop up the most.

The Crash in Boston Heights occurred at 7:45am, after sunrise but while the sun was still low. It occurred on State Route 303. Both cyclist & motorist were eastbound, driving into the rising sun. The report states that the motorist, 58 year old Greg Kostelnik, told police his “windshield began to fog up. At the same time, the motorist’s vision also became obscured by sun glare. The driver reached over and turned on the defrost system” and “rear-ended” the cyclist, 65 year old Nickolas O’Donnell of Stow, Ohio.

As the Police Chief notes in the story Ohio law REQUIRES YOU TO STOP IF YOUR VISION IS IMPAIRED. You don’t just go tootling down the road while blind. You pull over and fix it – or wait it out – NOW.

Since the criminal case didn’t go forward, we didn’t hear any testimony or explanation. No word on a civil claim.

The case was investigated by the Boston Heights Police -not the Sheriff and not OSHP.

The evidence was clear that the Mr. O’Donnell was riding along the right side of the roadway. It was a very typical Ohio “country road” – narrow, paved, straight flat, marked.

Mr. O’Donnell was clearly an avid cyclist. He was decked out with a reflective vest over a bright yellow jacket/jersey, reflective straps, a rear Garmin red light, still operating after the crash. Yes, he had a helmet. He was on a Giant carbon road bike.

Mr. Kostelnik slammed into Mr. O’Donnell at speed – hitting him with the right front corner of his big pickup truck. Despite his “magic helmet” Mr. O’Donnell didn’t have a chance.

Glad to see the case well handled by Boston Heights PD. Sometimes, frankly, the “city level” handling of a big case is somewhat lacking b/c they just don’t get much practice handling complex crash cases. Here, they were able to lock down the evidence and secure a plea of guilty.

Yes, it’s a misdemeanor. Yes, that limits jail possibilities. The facts were that the motorist had a valid license and was not “speeding” or otherwise driving “recklessly”… Now, I and many others would argue that driving “blind” is reckless, but that’s for another day… No evidence here of drugs/alcohol… no evidence of texting or other distraction. For all of those reasons, the prosecutor chose to charge with a misdemeanor.

The memory of the Brecksville case is not one that will go away quickly. There a fellow who made a left turn in a huge pickup across the path of FIVE oncoming riders was ACQUITTED of similar misdemeanor charges… he walked out of court with a Not Guilty finding… after a week long trial. Here, the prosecutor proceeded aggressively nonetheless … and secured the conviction.

Click here to view pictures that go with the post. 


Comatose Patient’s Pregnancy Puts Spotlight on Nursing Home Abuse

Shared by Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA 

blog.lewlaw.com/blog


Shocking headlines from Phoenix, Arizona have gained national attention by showing how serious and appalling nursing home abuse can be.  

At Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix, a female patient in a vegetative state gave birth last month.  The patient, whose name has respectfully been withheld, has been in her comatose condition for an extended period and at no point possessed the capacity to consent to sexual contact. 

Phoenix Police investigating this sexual assault have zeroed in on the nursing home’s male staff and, hopefully, the culprit will be brought to justice.  However, following Hacienda Healthcare CEO’s resignation, questions remain regarding how long and how prevalent this type of abuse may have been at the facility.

Nursing Home Abuse in Ohio

For many families, this story has raised deeply personal questions about their own loved ones.  If nursing home abuse can happen in Arizona, it can happen elsewhere, too.  Including Ohio.

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse occurs frequently in Ohio.  Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA’s lawyers have spent years representing countless patients and families affected by nursing home abuse.  The conditions and errors that make abuse possible are, regrettably, more prevalent now than ever.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

While the Phoenix case highlights just how abhorrent nursing home abuse can be, nursing home abuse can occur in a variety of ways and at varying degrees of severity.  Make no mistake, though: no type or degree of nursing home abuse is ever acceptable.  If you suspect any abuse has occurred, you need to speak to attorney right away.

Broadly speaking, nursing home abuse is any intentional conduct by nursing home administrators or staff that causes injury to residents or patients.  This includes intentional acts and may also include certain neglectful or negligent acts performed intentionally.

Some examples of possible nursing home abuse include:

  • Physical and/or sexual assault by a nursing home employee
  • Theft or financial abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Malnutrition
  • Pressure sores (bed sores)
  • Certain falls
  • Injuries caused by understaffing

While some attempt to limit the definition of abuse, Lowe Eklund’s attorneys take a more realistic approach to protecting your loved ones.  When greedy, profit-driven policies lead to understaffing and injuries occur to patients, that is abuse.  When administrators hire too few nurses to perform necessary monitoring and injuries occur, that too is abuse.

Now more than ever, nursing home abuse occurs not merely because of inappropriate actions of the staff (though, of course, that does still occur and is unacceptable).  Much of today’s nursing home abuse occurs because of a profits-before-patients approach to nursing home care perpetuated by owners and administrators.


Leaving Your Childbirth in the Hands of the Wrong Midwife

Shared by McKeen & Associates, PC

www.mckeenassociates.com/blog


Midwifery has a reputation of facilitating more natural, homeopathic childbirths. However, many midwives—operating legally in Michigan—actually lack the training to safely manage a childbirth.

One recent case involved a family in Romulus. The mother opted to give birth in her home, for which she sought the help of Helen Stockton—a midwife at Ann Arbor’s Mother Earth Midwifery. Stockton’s improper decision making during the childbirth cost the baby his life.

What went wrong

The baby boy was in frank breech position—a folded V-shape, with his legs and head both pointing upward and his buttocks facing the birthing canal. Such a position is highly dangerous for a delivery—and the midwife should have immediately taken the pregnant mother to the hospital.

Instead, she delivered the baby in this position—causing an otherwise healthy infant to suffer severe brain damage in the process. Three days later, the newborn passed away.

The family of the boy is suing for negligence over the wrongful death of their son. Brian McKeen is representing the family in the suit.

Preventable tragedy

Home deliveries are extremely risky. If something goes wrong, the life-saving medical resources offered in a hospital are simply not available.

In addition, it’s important to understand that the title of “midwife” is inexact. Some midwives are certified registered nurses, have Master’s degrees, work in hospitals and even train resident physicians. However, this is not the case across the board. Many midwives do not possess anything resembling this level of education or experience.

In Michigan—and many other states across the country—so-called “direct entry midwives” are unregulated. Such midwives can enter into the profession directly—without first undergoing any nursing training. Putting such a midwife in charge of a childbirth is hazardous—often resulting in serious birthing injuries including asphyxiation, brain damage and death.


BACK TO TOP 



 

 

About the Blog
OAJ Blog Central showcases informative blog posts from law firms and trial attorneys throughout Ohio. 

Blog Policies

Recent Posts:
• Study: Opioids Contributing to Increasing Number of Fatal Accidents
Fatal Truck Crashes Rise and Other Drivers Pay the Price
Do Statutory Penalties Against Employers Preclude Common Law Wrongful Termination Claims by Employees?
• How are Bicycle Accidents Different When Children are Involved?
• What can be Done to Prevent Auto-Pedestrian Accidents?

Keywords: Fatal Accidents, OpioidsTruck CrashesStatutory Penalties, Wrongful Termination ClaimsBicycle AccidentsAuto-Pedestrian AccidentsTraumatic Brain InjuryIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act, Department of Education, Work Comp Benefits, Rail WorkersDistracted DrivingIntentional Tort ClaimElectrical Shock InjuriesTruck Safety, Lytx"Sun Glare" Case, CyclistNursing Home AbuseMidwife

Please submit all blog post entries to katiej@oajustice.org

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Our Friends of OAJ Sponsors