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: 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: Tom Diehl (in 2008)
Plaintiff: Doctor, Did my client incur these medical bills as a result of her motor vehicle accident?
In just about any personal injury action, a primary goal for Plaintiff’s counsel is to introduce medical bills and medical records pertaining to the underlying cause. There is a certain procedure that should be followed to ensure this admissibility (and to reduce attorney stress) so that the example above does not occur.
In order for medical bills to be admissible, the charges must be: (1) reasonable and necessary; and (2) proximately caused by the motor vehicle accident. The first element (reasonableness) can usually be established simply by providing opposing counsel with a copy of the bill five days prior to trial.
“In an action for damages arising from personal injury, a written bill . . . itemized by date, type of service rendered, and charge, shall . . . be prima facie evidence of the reasonableness of any charges and fees . . . provided such bill . . . delivered to attorney of record for each adverse party not less than five days before trial.” O.R.C. §2312.421
Just establishing that the charge was reasonable, however, does not make the bill automatically admissible. After all, charges incurred for treating a cold are not admissible in a claim for injuries from a motor vehicle accident. Proof must be provided that the charges were necessitated as a direct and proximate result of the accident. Typically, this will require expert medical testimony. See e.g. Lasley v. Nguyen (2007), 172 Ohio App.3d 741 (holding that plaintiff claiming neck injury from motor vehicle accident was not qualified to render opinion as to the cause of her medical injuries and that medical testimony was required.)
To be admissible, a medical opinion on causation must be stated to a reasonable degree of medical probability. Stenson v. England (1994), 69 Ohio. St.3d 451. Thus, the following example establishes the introduction of medical bills
Plaintiff: Doctor, let me hand you a copy of the emergency room bill, which I supplied to opposing counsel two weeks ago. Do you have an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical probability as to whether these charges were necessitated as a direct and proximate result of the car crash?
Plaintiff: What is that opinion?
Doctor: The charges were necessitated because of the car crash.
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.
By: Marty Hubbell
Ryan Widmer’s third trial for the murder of his wife, Sarah, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, in the Warren County Common Pleas Court in Lebanon, Ohio. Judge Bronson is again presiding.
The first trial ended in a conviction that was overturned due to juror misconduct. The jury in the second trial was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, which resulted in a mistrial.
I am often asked my opinion on this case. I’ve spoken to folks on both sides; each is passionate one way or the other. I am not. I have paid close attention to this case, but I have not seen all of the evidence or heard all of the witnesses. From those I have spoken to in the legal community, most believe reasonable doubt exists.
So why has the overwhelming majority of jurors believed that Ryan Widmer is guilty of murdering his wife? I do have an opinion on that: I just don’t think he’s likeable.
Before the second trial, jurors were brought in to determine if they could serve for an extended period of time. I happened to be at the courthouse, for other cases. In front of Judge Bronson’s courtroom, I saw Ryan Widmer laughing and joking around with a friend. This went on for awhile, in full view of the potential jurors.
I also sat in on portions of the first two trials. I observed Ryan Widmer’s behavior, demeanor, and reaction to witness testimony. He left me with the impression that he was a bit snarky.
So what does this have to do with the Widmer case? Like it or not, defendants are on trial the minute they pull into the court parking lot. It was clear the possible jurors recognized Ryan Widmer. They knew they were there to potentially serve as jurors in a case, where he is accused of killing his wife. In other words, they were there to address a serious matter; he was there goofing around.
I have no idea what this third jury will do. But it would certainly behoove Ryan Widmer to act more appropriately.