Ohio Plan Claim Success Stories
In today’s society, we generally only hear about lawsuits or court decisions against public entities reaching into millions of dollars. While this does happen, those cases are isolated and rare. The reality is many claims and suits of these claims are dismissed by the courts and result in no monetary settlement. This is due many times to the fact that a great deal of suits against Ohio’s public entities either have no merit and/or are dismissed because of public entity immunity laws. The Ohio Plan claims team works hard for our clients to make sure they are granted the protection provided to them from Ohio’s immunity laws. The following are success stories The Ohio Plan has secured defending its public entity members.
Township: Proper nuisance abatement notice was given. Suit filed by three separate landowners against the township. Each one had been asked to abate nuisances on their property, but did not. They subsequently were held in contempt for failing to abide by court orders. With court approval the township abated the nuisances using the assistance of third-party contractors. The plaintiffs’ claimed the township did not account for all property seized, sold some of the property and accepted the proceeds without notifying the property owners. The court dismissed the suit by granting the Ohio Plan’s motion for summary judgment that argued the township gave the plaintiffs’ proper remedies to abate the nuisances and protect their property.
City: No duty to warn electrician of electrical dangers. An electrician was hired to work on the city’s breakers. He failed to verify that the area where he was working was de-energized and was subsequently injured. The court found that the servicing of the electrical breakers at the substation was an inherently dangerous activity that the city hired the plaintiff's company to handle. The plaintiff undertook the work without assuring himself that the high-voltage compartment was de-energized and by doing so assumed the risk of injury from electrocution. The court stated that the danger of electrocution when in close proximity to an electrical substation obviated the city’s duty to warn, although the facts established that a city employee had warned the plaintiff.
City: No false arrest. The plaintiff was arrested after making numerous “anonymous” 911 calls, alleging very serious crimes in progress. In response the police would rush the house and break down the doors to prevent the crime. Due to the nature of the 911 calls, other departments also responded. The alleged crimes and police response were all taking place at the same location, so the resident was asked to identify the voice on the 911 calls at which time the resident identified her ex-boyfriend. The plaintiff was indicted, arrested, convicted and then filed a suit for false arrest and illegal imprisonment. The Ohio Plan argued that once he was indicted and convicted, these claims were an absolute bar to any recovery and the officers had qualified immunity. The court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case.
Village: No malicious prosecution. The plaintiffs alleged malicious prosecution after their Hummer was reported stolen in Ohio and they were charged with selling and transferring the vehicle and title in Nevada. The Nevada notary public who completed the transfer picked the plaintiff out of a photo lineup as the individual who applied for the title in Nevada. The plaintiffs were indicted, charged and convicted and the Ohio Plan’s motion for summary judgment was granted.
Fire district. A woman passed away due to a fire in her home. The suit alleged the fire district was reckless in the way it operated the fire district and violated the plaintiff’s due process rights. The woman had placed the first call to 911 at 6:05 a.m. A police officer arrived on scene at 6:09 a.m. and spoke with the deceased’s roommates outside who were hysterical and could not offer any information. The officer circled the residence looking for anyone attempting to get out and saw nothing. The fire district arrived at the scene at 6:12 a.m. Realizing someone was still in building they attempted a number of different entries while other departments arrived on-scene to help. Within several minutes of their arrival, parts of the roof began collapsing. The firefighters inside could not see anything, were being hit by falling debris, and making slow progress. After 35–40 minutes, they located the deceased. The medical expert opined the plaintiff died within a few minutes after the 911 call and prior to the arrival of the fire district. The court agreed the plaintiff failed to establish any due process violations, list or argue any of the five exceptions to Ohio’s immunity laws, and establish that the individual firefighters were reckless.
Village. A probationary police officer was terminated eight months into his probation due to a number of citizen complaints. He alleged retaliation after giving a friend of the mayor a ticket. He did acknowledge he was an at-will/probationary employee. In granting our summary judgment, the court noted that termination of at-will/probationary employees is within the authority given to mayors. In addition, they found no evidence of actual malice by the mayor that would have been necessary to support the claim of retaliation.