Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio

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The Supreme Court dismissed Save Your Courthouse Committee's action seeking a writ of prohibition against the city of Medina and its director of finance (collectively, the municipal respondents) and denied the mandamus claim on the merits, holding that the committee could not show that article II, section 1g of the Ohio Constitution imposes a duty to allow ten days to gather additional signatures in support of a municipal initiative petition. The committee prepared an initiative petition that would allow city electors to vote on a courthouse project. The petition did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. When a committee member asked the board of elections to afford the committee ten additional days to gather signatures, the board denied the request. The committee then filed its complaint for writs of prohibition and mandamus. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) because the city did not exercise quasi-judicial authority, prohibition was not available to block the ordinance; and (2) the committee failed to show that the board had a duty to allow ten extra days to gather additional signatures for the municipal initiative petition. View "State ex rel. Save Your Courthouse Committee v. City of Medina" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court granting declaratory judgment ordering the planning commission of the city of Broadview Heights to issue a certificate of approval to Gloria Wesolowski, holding that the thirty-day time limit set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 711.09(C) applies to a city planning commission and prevailed over the municipal subdivision regulation at issue in this case. After the commission denied Wesolowski's application seeking to subdivide property Wesolowski filed an administrative appeal alleging that the commission failed to comply with section 711.09(C), which requires that the commission either approve or deny a subdivision application within thirty days after its submission. The trial court agreed and granted partial summary judgment in Wesolowski's favor. The commission appealed, arguing that section 711.09(C) does not apply to cities because the city's regulations, adopted pursuant to its home-rule powers, prevail over section 711.09(C). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the time limit set forth in section 711.09(C) applies to both cities and villages; and (2) a home-rule municipality's adoption of subdivision regulations is an exercise of its police powers, and therefore, section 711.09(C) prevails over any conflicting municipal subdivision regulation. View "Wesolowski v. Broadview Heights Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting Thomas Beyer's request for a writ of mandamus and ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its decision denying Beyer's request for an award under Ohio Rev. Code 4123.57 for the permanent partial loss of sight in his right eye, holding that a physician, not the commission, must determine the degree of a claimant's impairment. In denying Beyer's request, the Commission found that the record did not contain sufficient medical evidence to substantiate it because Beyer did not present medical evidence of the percentage of vision lost. The court of appeals ordered the commission to vacate its decision and grant Beyer the requested award, finding that Beyer had provided the commission with sufficient evidence for the commission to determine the percentage of vision lost. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) claims involving medical determinations may be established only by submitting appropriate medical evidence; and (2) Beyer's evidence fell short because he did not present evidence of a physician's determination of the degree of his impairment. View "State ex rel. Beyer v. Autoneum North America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals denying Appellant's request for a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its order that terminated Appellant's permanent-total-disability (PTD) compensation and finding that Appellant had committed fraud while receiving PTD compensation, holding that the Commission abused its discretion in terminating Appellant's PTD compensation as of March 26, 2009. In denying Appellant's request, the court of appeals concluded that there was some evidence to support the Commission's finding that Appellant was engaged in sustained remunerative employment through activities he was performing at a raceway while receiving PTD compensation. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that even if the activities he was engaged in could be construed as work, he was not working as of the effective date of the Commission's termination of his benefits. The Supreme Court agreed and remanded for an appropriate date of termination of Appellant's PTD compensation. In all other respects, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals. View "State ex rel. Seibert v. Richard Cyr, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court declaring that the Village of Bratenahl did not violate Ohio's Open Meetings Act, Ohio Rev. Code 121.22, by conducting public business by secret ballot, holding that the use of secret ballots in a public meeting violates the Open Meetings Act. The Bratenahl Village Council voted by secret ballot to elect a president pro tempore. Plaintiffs brought this suit seeking a declaratory judgment that Bratenahl violated the Open Meetings Act. The trial court awarded summary judgment to Bratenahl. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Open Meetings Act does not permit a governmental body to take official action by secret ballot and that maintaining secret ballot slips as public records does not cure a section 121.22 violation. View "State ex rel. Bratenahl v. Bratenahl" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the Industrial Commission did not abuse its discretion when it found that Alfredo Pacheco was medically able to perform light-duty work offered by his employer, Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) but reversed the conclusion that Alcoa did not make the light-duty job offer in good faith, holding that the court of appeals should not have determined whether the job was offered in good faith. Pacheco sustained an injury while working for Alcoa and received temporary total disability (TTD) compensation for approximately one year. Thereafter, Alcoa offered Pacheco light-duty employment. Pacheco accepted the offer and worked in the light-duty position for three weeks. Pacheco then submitted a renewed request for TTD compensation, which Alcoa denied. The Commission denied the request for TTD compensation based on a finding that the light-duty job was within Pacheco's medical restrictions. The court of appeals concluded that the evidence supported the Commission's finding but also concluded that the job offered by Alcoa was not offered in good faith. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that where the Commission did not address the question of whether the light-duty job offer was made in good faith, the court of appeals should not have made that determination. View "State ex rel. Pacheco v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its order denying the request of Joshua Pilarczyk for permanent total disability (PTD) compensation, holding that the court of appeals erred in relying on the report of Dr. Kenneth Gruenfeld in making its decision. Dr. Gruenfeld undertook an independent psychological evaluation of Pilarczyk at the request of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and then issued a report stating that Pilarczyk was likely able to perform sustained remunerative employment despite his psychological disability. The Commission denied Pilarczyk's request for PTD compensation based in part on Dr. Gruenfeld's report. The court of appeals concluded that the Commission abused its discretion by denying PTD compensation based on Dr. Gruenfeld's report and issued a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to vacate its order denying PTD compensation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Dr. Gruenfeld's report was equivocal and ambiguous, and therefore, it did not constitute "some evidence" in support of the Commission's determination that Pilarczyk could engage in sustained remunerative employment. View "State ex rel. Pilarczyk v. Geauga County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the Ohio Power Siting Board approving the application of 6011 Greenwich Windpark, LLC to add three new wind-turbine models to the list of turbines suitable for Greenwich Windpark's proposed wind farm in Huron County, holding that the Board's approval of Greenwich Windpark's application did not require an amendment of its certificate. On appeal, Appellant argued that, in approving the proposed changes, the Board acted unlawfully and unreasonably by refusing to subject Greenwich Windpark's application to the enhanced minimum turbine-setback requirements applicable to any certificate "amendment" under the current versions of Ohio Rev. Code 4906.20 and 4906.201. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board adopted a reasonable and practical approach for determining when an amendment is necessary for purposes of the statutes and that, under the circumstances, the Board's decision was not unlawful or unreasonable. View "In re Application of 6011 Greenwich Windpark, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that modified and approved an electric-security plan (ESP) for the FirstEnergy Companies, holding that the Commission erred in modifying the ESP to add a distribution modernization rider (DMR) that was not part of the original application. The Commission concluded that the DMR, which allowed the FirstEnergy Companies to collect between $168 to $204 million in extra revenue per year, was valid under Ohio Rev. Code 4928.143(B)(2)(h) because the revenue it generated would purportedly serve as an incentive for the companies to modernize their distribution systems. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission's order as it related to the DMR and remanded with instructions to remove the DMR for the companies' ESP, holding that the DMR did not qualify as a proper incentive under section 4928.143(B)(2)(h) and that the conditions placed on the recovery of DMR revenue were not sufficient to protect ratepayers. View "In re Application of Ohio Edison Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Appellee's motion to dismiss Appellant's appeal from the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) that denied Appellant's claim for property-tax exemption for several parcels of land it owned, holding that Appellant timely perfected its appeal. As support for its motion to dismiss, Appellee argued that because Appellant did not initiate service by certified mail within the thirty-day period prescribed by Ohio Rev. Code 5717.04 for filing its notice of appeal, the Supreme Court must dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court rejected Appellee's argument, holding that section 5717.04 does not state a timeline for the certified-mail service of the notice of appeal on the appellees, and it is not disputed that the notice of appeal was properly served on Appellee by certified mail. View "The City of Upper Arlington v. McClain" on Justia Law