Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio

by
The Supreme Court answered two state-law questions from the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by holding that the failure to identify a person who has initialed, signed, and acknowledged a mortgage agreement by name in the body of the agreement does not render the agreement unenforceable as a matter of law against that signatory. The panel specifically asked whether a mortgage is invalid and unenforceable against a signatory who is not identified by name in the body of the mortgage agreement. The Supreme Court answered in the negative, holding that, as a matter of general contract interpretation, it is possible for a person who is not identified in the body of the mortgage, but who has signed and initiated the mortgage, to be a mortgagor of her interest. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Rhiel" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Appellant’s complaint for writs of mandamus and prohibition against Richland County Court of Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese seeking to compel Judge DeWeese to enter a final, appealable order on prior rulings made by Judge James Henson, vacate several orders Judge DeWeese had entered in the underlying case, and bar Judge DeWeese from moving forward with a trial, holding that Appellant was not entitled to the relief it sought. Appellant filed a complaint for breach of contract. Judge Henson granted summary judgment in favor of Appellant as to certain defendants. The trial court then awarded Appellant attorney fees. While appeals that were ultimately dismissed for lack of a final, appealable order were pending Judge Henson retired, and the case was reassigned to Judge DeWeese. Judge DeWeese vacated the summary judgment orders and granted summary judgment for one defendant. Appellant then filed this action. The court of appeals denied relief, and the Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Judge DeWeese clearly exercised jurisdiction in the underlying case, and that exercise of jurisdiction was authorized; and (2) because Appellant could not show that it had clear legal right to relief, it was not entitled to a writ of mandamus. View "State ex rel. Technical Construction Specialties, Inc. v. DeWeese" on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case was when Appellees’ claims for negligence, constructive fraud, and fraudulent concealment accrued and whether they were time-barred. Appellees were the Estate of Steven Schmitz and Yvette Smith, individually and as fiduciary of the Estate. Steven died before age sixty after being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, and dementia. Appellees alleged that Steven’s diagnoses were caused, aggravated, and/or magnified by repetitive head impacts Steven sustained while playing football for the University of Notre Dame du Lac. The trial court dismissed the claims pursuant to Ohio R. Civ. P. 12(B)(6). The Supreme Court affirmed the Eighth District’s judgment reversing the dismissal of Appellees’ claims for negligence, constructive fraud, and fraudulent concealment, holding (1) Rule 12(B)(6) did not warrant the dismissal of Appellees’ claims because the amended complaint did not show conclusively that the claims were time-barred; and (2) Appellees’ fraud-related claims were subject to the same two-year statute of limitations contained in Ohio Rev. Coe 2305.10(A) as Appellees’ negligence claim. View "Schmitz v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n" on Justia Law

by
In this case alleging breach of contract, fraud, retaliation, constructive discharge, and invasion of privacy, the Supreme Court held (1) in Ohio, punitive damages may not be awarded for a breach of contract; (2) a party to a contract does not breach the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing by seeking to enforce the agreement as written or by acting in accordance with its express terms, and the implied duty is not breached unless a specific obligation imposed by the contract is not met; (3) a release of liability is an absolute bar to a later action on any claim encompassed within it absent a showing of fraud, duress, or other wrongful conduct in procuring it, and a party must prove duress by clear and convincing evidence; (4) the prevention of performance doctrine is not a defense to a release of liability and therefore cannot be asserted as a defense to a release; and (5) a claimant cannot rely on predictions or projections that relate to future performance or that are made to third parties to establish a fraud claim. View "Lucarell v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
At issue was a lessor’s right to terminate an oil and gas lease when a lessee fails to make minimum annual rental or royalty payments. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the lessors in this case and ordered forfeiture of the lease at issue, declaring that the lease had terminated under its own terms because the lessees had failed to a minimum annual rental of $5,500 under the lease and that the lease was void as against public policy. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the provision in the lease requiring the lessee to pay $5,500 annually did not invoke the termination provision in the unrelated delay-rental clause; and (2) the lease did not qualify as a no-term, perpetual lease, and therefore, the lease was not void as against public policy. View "Bohlen v. Anadarko E&P Onshore, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Appellants and Grady Reed were shareholders in a closely held corporation. In a 2010 complaint, Reed alleged that Appellants had breached the shareholders’ agreement and demanded relief in the form of money damages. After a jury trial, Judge Richard Ferenc granted Reed’s motion for a directed verdict and awarded him money damages, apportioning the liability among Appellants in proportion to their shares in the corporation. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred by treating the complaint as an action for money damages when the only available remedy was specific performance. On remand, Judge Ferenc concluded that Appellants had no right to a jury trial because Reed’s predominant claim for relief was equitable in nature. Appellants sought a writ of prohibition arguing that Judge Ferenc’s exercise of judicial power was unauthorized by law and that they did not have an adequate remedy by way of appeal from his adverse rulings. The court of appeals granted Judge Ferenc’s motion to dismiss the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants failed to establish their entitlement to a writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Samarghandi v. Ferenc" on Justia Law

by
Scott and Dawn Smith (together, Insureds) filed an insurance claim with Erie Insurance Company (Insurer) seeking uninsured-motorist coverage as a result of injuries suffered by Scott in a no-contact accident allegedly caused by an unidentified vehicle. Insurer denied the claim. The trial court granted summary judgment to Insurer, concluding that a provision in the policy requiring Insureds to provide “independent corroborative evidence” that the unknown driver caused the injury meant that Insureds had to submit evidence, independent of Scott’s own testimony, corroborating that the accident was caused by an unknown motorist, and this they failed to do. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the policy’s requirement of independent corroborative evidence could be met using evidence derived from the insured’s testimony. View "Smith v. Erie Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
Respondents, landowner-lessors, filed a putative class action in federal court claiming that Petitioner, the lessee, underpaid gas royalties under the terms of their leases. Under each lease, the lessee must bear all the production costs. The federal court certified to the Ohio Supreme Court a question regarding whether the lessee was permitted to deduct postproduction costs from the lessors’ royalties and, if so, how those costs were to be calculated. Specifically, the federal court asked the Supreme Court whether Ohio follows the “at the well” rule, which permits the deduction of post-production costs, or whether it follows some version of the “marketable product” rule, which limits the deduction of post-production costs under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court declined to answer the certified question and dismissed the cause, holding (1) under Ohio law, an oil and gas lease is a contract that is subject to the traditional rules of contract construction; and (2) therefore, the rights and remedies of the parties in this case are controlled by the specific language of their lease agreement. View "Lutz v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C." on Justia Law

by
The Village of Piketon and Boone Coleman Construction, Inc. entered into a contract for construction of a public road. The contract contained a liquidated damages provision specifying that Boone Coleman would pay $700 to Piketon for each day after the specified completion date that the contract was not substantially completed. Boone Coleman did not complete the project until well over a year after the parties’ extended completion date. Boone Coleman sued Piketon alleging that Piketon had failed to pay $147,477 of the contract price for the construction. Piketon filed a counterclaim seeking liquidated damages. The trial court awarded Piketon $277,900 in liquidated damages. The appellate court reversed, holding that the resulting amount of liquidated damages was so unreasonable as to constitute a penalty. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that the court erred in its use of a retrospective analysis to reach its conclusion and in failing to focus on the per diem nature of the liquidated damages. Remanded for consideration of the enforceability of the liquidated damages provision in light of this opinion. View "Piketon v. Boone Coleman Constr., Inc." on Justia Law

by
These consolidated actions involved an original action in the Supreme Court and an appeal of a judgment of the court of appeals and concerned the interpretation of several nearly identical oil and gas leases. In the original action, Relator, an absent and unnamed plaintiff in a class action, challenged the court of appeals’ order tolling the leases in the class action pending appeal and sought writs of prohibition and mandamus. The appeal challenged the court of appeals’ interpretation of the leases in the class action. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals in the class action, holding that the court of appeals correctly interpreted the leases; (2) denied a writ of mandamus or prohibition in the original action because Relator had an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law by moving to intervene in the appeal and because the court of appeals did not patently and unambiguously lack jurisdiction to issue an order tolling the leases; and (3) denied the motions of the appellee in the appeal to toll the terms of the leases. View "State ex rel. Claugus Family Farm, L.P. v. Seventh Dist. Court of Appeals" on Justia Law