Many individuals choose to represent themselves in a divorce or dissolution case. Oftentimes, in very simple matters, this is not a terrible decision. However, a recent case demonstrates the potential negative consequences of not having qualified counsel.
In this recent case, Husband and Wife dissolved their marriage in 2003. The parties agreed on all matters, including a provision on how to divide Husband’s pension. The pension was to be divided pursuant to an Order that was filed with the Court.
Wife’s lawyer prepared the Order, as Husband was not represented by an attorney. The problem was that the Order was inconsistent with the parties’ agreement, and Wife received a larger portion of the pension than she was entitled to.
Husband filed a motion with the Court to correct this error. Ultimately, his motion was denied because certain language was not included in the original agreement with his Wife, language that would have permitted his motion to go forward. Without this language, Husband needed to appeal his case within 30 days from the filing of the Order. There would have been little reason for him to do so, as he would not have known there was an error within the 30 day timeframe. Pension divisions often take many months before they are processed by the plan administrator.
Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, the Order used to divide retirement benefits, can be very complicated documents, filled with legalese. The original agreement needed to have language giving the Court jurisdiction to correct errors in the pension Order. Since it did not, Husband is stuck with the error, and Wife will continue to receive the additional benefits.
 Pearl v. Pearl, 2012-Ohio-4752.
Marty Hubbell is a partner in the law firm of Diehl & Hubbell, LLC (www.DiehlHubbell.com), and has been practicing domestic relations law in Warren County, Ohio since 2001. He was recently named an Ohio Super Lawyer for the third time, and has been named to the Top 40 Under 40 list. He is also a part-time Magistrate for the City of Lebanon, Ohio. He can be reached at (513) 932-2121 or MHubbell@DiehlHubbell.com
Marty Hubbell of Diehl & Hubbell, LLC, has been named to the Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Stars list as one of the top attorneys in Ohio for 2012. This is the third time Marty has been honored with this distinction. No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected to the list. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
Diehl & Hubbell successfully argued that a trial court must inform a defendant of certain potential consequences at the time of sentencing. The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision reversed the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. The appellate court originally denied the requested relief under the ripeness doctrine.
The Ohio Supreme Court sided with the Defendant, and indicated that a reviewing court must strictly construe the statutory language.
The case is State v. Smith, 2012-Ohio-781.
The opinion can be found at: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2012/2012-ohio-781.pdf
Marty Hubbell’s Merit Brief can be found at: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/tempx/694123.pdf
Congrats, Marty! Named one of Ohio’s top lawyers.
Lawyers are asked to nominate the best attorneys who are 40 or under. They are instructed to nominate lawyers they have personally observed in action – whether as opposing counsel or co-counsel, or through other firsthand courtroom observation.
In addition to the general survey, the attorney-led research team reviews the credentials of potential candidates and assigns points based on a set of defined evaluation criteria. The research staff also confirms that nominees are properly licensed, in good standing with the state licensing agency, and, when possible, that they have no history of disciplinary action that would warrant removal from the list.
The point totals from the general survey and research process are then added to arrive at a final tally. The lawyers are ranked by point totals and those with the highest point totals are named to the Rising Stars list. No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are named to the list. To ensure a diverse and well-balanced list, the research staff considers factors such as firm size, practice area and geographic location.
We at Diehl & Hubbell, LLC are proud of Mr. Hubbell and would like to thank him for his years of dedicated service to the Southwest Ohio community!
You can find Mr. Hubbell at 304 East Warren Street, Lebanon, Ohio, 45036 #513.932.2121
Check out “It Ain’t Over Yet”, by Thomas J. Diehl. Mr. Diehl discusses tactics to combat the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in Robinson v. Bates.
Ohio Attorneys, Diehl and Hubbell, LLC. A law firm in Southwest, Ohio, since 1988. We handle personal injury, criminal law, domestic relations, worker’s compensation, and civil litigation. We practice in all areas of Ohio including Warren, Greene, Montgomery, Clermont, Hamilton, and Highland counties, as well as Dayton, Cincinnati, Lebanon, Mason, Beavercreek, Kettering, Centerville, Waynesville, Ohio. Give us a call today and let us put our resources to work for you.
By: Thomas J. Diehl (In 2008) With the enactment of Senate Bill 80, damages in many tort actions are capped. The jury’s determination of rightful compensation to a Plaintiff will be disregarded in many circumstances. In any claim for damages for injury or loss to person or property, including product liability claims, a plaintiff who has suffered non-catastrophic or noneconomic damages is limited to the greater of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000) or three times the economic loss,but not to exceed Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000). EXAMPLE NO. 1: Plaintiff is injured in a non-catastrophic motorcycle accident and incurs medical bills of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) and a wage loss of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000), for total special damages of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000). The most he can receive for his non-economic loss (i.e. pain and suffering) is Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000). 3 x $15,000 = $45,000. Plaintiff is entitled to three times economic loss or Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000), whichever is greater. EXAMPLE NO. 2: Plaintiff is injured in a non-catastrophic loss and incurs medical bills of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) and wage loss of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000), for a total loss of One Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($125,000). If a jury awards pain and suffering of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000), that portion of the jury verdict will be reduced to Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000), because of the cap. It seems odd that the Ohio legislature would protect drunk and reckless drivers at the expense of truly injured persons. Although the Ohio Legislature limits the recovery available to a plaintiff seriously injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, it has made certain that producers of corn, wheat and soybeans injured by someone speaking badly of their products are fully compensated. Ohio Rev. Code §2307.81 subjects anyone who falsely disparages an Ohio agricultural or aquacultural food product, to “in addition to any award of punitive damages, damages in an amount up to three times the amount of compensatory damages.” Thus, the Ohio Legislature has chosen to place a cap on the damages a drunk driver will pay, while it subjects those that may dare to disparage a soybean to treble damages. http://www.thomasjdiehl.com
By Marty Hubbell
What’s next in the Ryan Widmer case? Expect the defense to file a motion for a new trial in the next few days. This motion must be filed within 14 days of the verdict that was rendered on February 15, 2011.
This motion is critical for Widmer’s case, and is separate from the appeal of his actual murder conviction. His appeal would be to the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown, Ohio; the motion for a new trial would be heard by Judge Bronson in the Warren County Common Pleas Court. The appeal will not be filed until the upcoming motion is resolved in the trial court.
Why is this motion for a new trial important? The 12th District Court of Appeals is probably the most conservative appellate court in the State of Ohio; less criminal convictions are overturned in this court than in any other appellate district. If he cannot persuade Judge Bronson to grant him a new trial, it is likely that the next significant hearing for Ryan Widmer will occur in about 14.5 years, at his first parole hearing.
The defense attorneys are scrambling to find any and all evidence they can to support the motion. From the press releases thus far, it appears that they are going to try to argue some form of juror misconduct.
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
Click the link above to hear Gabe and Meghan discuss the Widmer verdict, their reactions to the jury’s decision and chances for an appeal.
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.