By: Tom Diehl (In 2008)
In the last edition of the Co-Counsel Reporter, we discussed the pitfalls occasioned by the recent modifications and abrogation of joint and several liability as set forth in SB 120. Specifically, if a defendant can convince the trier of fact that a different defendant has some liability for the injuries sustained, the defendants will be liable for the overall damages only according to their percentage of liability. This can have disastrous consequences if the “other defendant” is not a party to the suit or is judgment proof.To help minimize the potential for disastrous consequences, plaintiff's counsel should consider these strategies: * File discovery early requesting the defendant to identify and specify any other defendants allegedly having liability for injuries caused. Consider, submitting requests for admissions demanding defendant to deny the existence of other liable defendants; * In the initial complaint, bring claims against all potential liable party defendants;* When partially settling with the joint tortfeasor, release only that tortfeasor; * Consider filing a challenge to the constitutionality of SB120 -- send a copy of the challenge to the Ohio Attorney General. Grounds for potential constitutional challenge include an argument that SB 120 violates Article II Section 15 (One Subject Rule) or Article IV Section 5 (Separation of Powers). At Thomas J. Diehl & Co., LLC, we have been handling personal injury claims in Southwest Ohio since 1988. We regularly work with counsel in ethical fee sharing arrangements. Thomas J. Diehl is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America and a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. http://www.ThomasJDiehl.com
By: Gabe Moorman
Warren County Court of Common Pleas Judge Neal Bronson read the verdict at about 5:00PM today after approximately twelve hours of jury deliberation.
As Ryan Widmer sat waiting, not looking, with his head down on top of his cross-fingered hands, Judge Bronson delivered the news:
Not of involuntary manslaughter, the lesser included offense of which the jury could consider, but murder. Cold-blooded, intentional murder. In other words, the jury found that to a degree of certainty beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr. Widmer purposefully killed his wife, Sarah Widmer.
This conviction calls for a mandatory sentence of fifteen years to life in jail. This tragic saga has come to an end – finally.
Although this trial and controversy played out like a tv show or a soap opera, it was far from it. The convicted, the victim, her family and his family are real people. I think it is important that we remember to be considerate and respectful toward all of the individuals involved. Their dignity as human beings is immutable.
That summer night back in August of 2008 has, in effect, taken not one, but two lives. It just took two and a half years to realize. My heart goes out to Sarah Widmer’s family in this most difficult of times. We can only hope that justice was served.
For a summary of the Widmer trial and my thoughts on the verdict, tune in to Dayton’s FOX45 In The Morning from 7:00 to 9:00 AM tomorrow, Wednesday, February 16th, 2011.